5 sweet & simple things to do this summer


summer bliss

Summertime in the UK is a glorious season (when the rain lets up that is) of sun, garden parties, Pimms and outdoor adventures. I love when these warmer months roll around and I can break out my go-to summer outfits and enjoy spending time in the fresh air with the kids. There’s quite a few things on my to-do-list this summer, easy days out and new places to visit and as always we have a bucket list of things we try to achieve each year. If you need a little inspiration – or just want to get the kids out of the house – here are five small things to bring you and your family some enjoyment this summer.

Hendrewennol Fruit farm

Pick your own fruit

One simple joy in life is being able to harvest your own fruit and veg, whether it be in your own allotment or garden, or at one of the many farms around the country. We have a small vegetable patch in our garden but this past year we have taken a break, mainly because my 2yr finds pulling everything we plant out as a game we are going to focus on next year while we get out of this tricky toddler faze. So instead we have been enjoying Hendrewennol Fruit Farm in the Vale of Glamorgan, it's a fantastic place and their Raspberries and Strawberries are so juicy and the kids love the hay bales to climb on.

maze fun

Navigate a Maze

During the summer across the UK corn mazes pop up and it's something my kids love! Of course there are bigger all year round ones such as Longleat and Hampton Court which provide a whole day out of fun and excitement capturing the simple pleasure of a challenge and curiosity. The great thing about Mazes is they are fun for all ages and I think I enjoy trying to find the centre as much as the kids do.

Visit the Forbidden Forest

If you have any Harry Potter enthusiasts in your family, visiting Warner Bros Studios in London is a must. New to 2017, you can even duck past the Whomping Willow and head straight into the Forbidden Forest while there. You’ll run into many magical creatures, including Hippogriffs and Acromantulas, so I hope you’re not afraid of spiders! The Game Keeper and Care of Magical Creature’s professor Hagrid also has his costume on display

Build a den

This is a great activity for both sunny and rainy days as you can do it inside or out. We love to head up to the forest and make dens, this keeps both boys entertained for a while as we'll as being outdoors and in the fresh air, we always take a few baked treats with us to eat under the den. Building a den is also one of the 50 things to do before you are 11 3/4's, a fun challenge set by the National Trust to encourage children to get their hands dirty and connect with nature 

homemade ice lolly

Make your own Ice Lollies

I know we all like to enjoy an ice-cream or ice-lolly practically any time of the year but the are exceptionally wonderful and sweet on a hot summers day and a great way to cool down as well. The thing about ice-lollies is they are so easy to make with the kids making it the most perfect edible craft this summer. Check out this super easy vitamin C packed ice lolly that also sneaks some healthy carrot into the mix.

Do you have any fun summer plans or other small things that bring you joy this time of year? Let me know in the comments below.

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Country Kids
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Exploring Basingstoke with Made in Basingstoke Festival



Exploring Basingstoke

We love nothing more than exploring somewhere new, close or far we always have a blast so when Made in Basingstoke got in touch to ask if we would like to come and see all that Basingstoke has to offer during their month long cultural festival we couldn't wait. We didn't know much about Basingstoke, a large market town in Hampshire, so we did a little bit of pre-trip research and were excited to here that Jane Austen was born only 7 miles away and of course is iconic to the area as well as their industrial Victorian past. The Made in Basingstoke festival has a different theme each week - Create, Taste, Discover and Make and each offering an array of activities for both adults and children.


Basingstoke town

We arrived into Basingstoke around lunchtime and luckily the carpark was 30 second walk from the peaceful Glebe Gardens which is a lovely green oasis right in the heart of the town and it meant the boys could stretch their legs and run around for half after our car trip. Right next to the gardens is the impressive St Michaels Church which makes up some of the older and original buildings in Basingstoke.

Basingstoke town

craft table
Craft table in the Willis Museum 

Basingstoke town is not too big so we decided to walk around for a while to get our bearings. You quickly realise it's split into two, the historical centre and the more modern part meaning you get the best of both worlds. The Top of the Town is the historical heart and is where you will find The Willis Museum, market and the Haymarket Theatre.

This is where we spent most of the afternoon, exploring the Willis Museum which is small but perfectly formed and offers a real insight into the history of Basingstoke as well as some fun exhibits and craft room for kids which my eldest loved. There is also a traditional tea room on the ground floor which I have heard serves up a wonderful afternoon tea. This is also where we found the first of the Sitting With Jane Artist benches, part of the 24 individual designed artist bench trail in honour of Jane Austen.

Sitting with Jane

Jan Austen

After we explored the museum and went hunting for more benches we made our way over to the Premier Inn, located just above the Top of the Town and the perfect location for exploring Basingstoke as everything was an easy walk away. This Premier Inn is one of the newer ones and I have to say it's a great choice especially for those with children as the rooms are spotless and spacious, the staff very friendly and welcoming and you have all the modern conveniences you need with quick check in, temperature control and fast wifi. 

Premier Inn

Pizza Express

Once we checked in and had half an hour to relax we headed out again down to Festival Place for supper at Pizza Express. There is a really nice atmosphere at Festival Place with children running in and out of the fountains, colourful flowers in bloom, playing in mini sand beach, plenty of places to eat, indoors and out and the perfect family friendly spot for an evening out. 

Festival Place Basingstoke

Festival Place Basingstoke

After our busy day we were all pretty hungry and even though I am not a huge pizza lover my kids are and that's the great thing about Pizza Express is they have something for everyone, my mother went for a delicious vegan pizza while I opted for the superfood salad and the kids wolfed down their fresh veg starter and margaritas and we topped it off with some ice-cream before walking but up through the town to the hotel.

Pizza Express


Pizza Express

After breakfast we made our way to The Malls to check out the Create stands and Art and Craft market as part of the Made in Basingstoke festival and it was really interesting seeing all the different local artists, designers and crafters showcasing their work. They also had a couple of workshops going on as well as opportunities to make and create your own pieces of art. My eldest had a go at the   Mitoso Make and Take Card craft with stamping up products showing him how to punch, die cut and stamp his own homemade card. I also made sure to stop by the Eco Workshop and see part of their Decoupage demonstration. 

Make and Create


Both of my kids love vintage transport vehicles such as Fire Engines, steam rollers, trains, cars etc so we knew we had to spend a few hours at Milestone Museum of living history which was also having a special Time Travellers exhibition with dinosaurs so we knew straight away this would be a hit. The admission is quite pricey but worth it as we were immediately impressed with the scale of the place. I am going to do a separate post about this attraction as is such a fantastic place for families to spend a couple of hours and is also the perfect all weather options that allows exploration and children to run a little bit of steam off. 



Inside the Milestone museum is also the Museum of Penny Arcades which we loved, you get 10 original pennies per pound and can put them into vintage puppet shows, fortune tellers and strange games such as test your strength and grand national. There is also a 1940's sweetshop, a post office and the chance to dress up like a Victoria as well as an outdoor dinosaur maze. Before leaving we made sure to stop into the Memory Lane Cafe with it's original 1950's juke box for a scone and coffee before hitting the road back to Cardiff after a fun and exciting weekend exploring Basingstoke. The Made in Basingstoke festival runs until the 13th of August so if you looking to do something a little different this summer holidays why not check it out.

Memory lane cafe

Milestone Museum

Thanks so much for Made in Basingstoke for inviting us

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Capturing Your Childs Wild Side With Forrest & Fox


Forrest & Fox

I really enjoyed featuring and showcasing local talent and small businesses and as some may know that I studied photography at University so its certainly something I am passionate about and I always get very excited when I come across creative projects that are inspiring and unique, especially from home grown independent businesses. I actually stumbled across Forrest & Fox on Facebook when it somehow came up in my feed showcasing their amazing portraits and new "The Wild Ones" event so when they got in touch it let me know more about this it seemed perfect as they are based in Swansea which is just over a half an hour drive from me.

I have to be honest, we have never taken the kids for a photoshoot for the simple reason is I really don't like the white background, cheesy smiles and harsh flash. It can be hard to find photographers who think out of the box and really aim to capture the uniqueness of each child not just a conveyor belt of similar photos, which is why I am really taken with this new approach to studio photography.

forrest & fox

This exciting and bright start up company have put together a really fun and immersive photography experience to help capture the wild in all children which they built on from the success of their Fairy Photoshoot experience.

The Wild Ones event is all about capturing the individuality of each child and creating photos that have a high-end movie like quality that are timeless and beautiful. This approach for both boys and girls is something that is pretty unique in children photography. The sets are also fun and allow the child to really get involved with props and costumes and the photographers work to get the most organic and expressive images.

natural photography

What I really like about their work it's suitable for both boys and girls and being the mother of two boisterous boys I know they would love dressing up, painting their face, acting like wildlife rangers, Bear Grylls or children of the forest and getting really involved. My eldest can be shy at times but I know he would quickly get into the swing of things and the photographers aim to make it as fun of an experience as possible. 

Forrest & Fox are bringing this new style of child studio photography not only to Wales but also Bristols this summer. The Wild Ones will be in Swansea on the 28th-30 July, Newport on the 11th-13th August and Bristol on the 26th-28th. You can see their work and book a place at www.forrestandfox.co.uk

wild child

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10 Ways To Stay Stylish On A Road Trip


stylish mama

Going on a road trip can be an exciting and unforgettable experience. You can make it a fashionable and stylish one as well. By choosing the right clothes, shoes and accessories you can maximize the fun of your road trip. Read this article to know if you’re carrying the most essential items for a stylish and comfortable road trip.

1. The Essential Tee

This is one of the basics of a road trip wardrobe. Since a layered look is recommended, a basic essential t-shirt should form the inner part of your outfit. Since these are made from pure cotton, they’ll keep your body warm and you can choose a fit according to your body type. The best thing about these is that they are your first line of defence against any damage or staining. All you need to do then is to add another layer such as a loose cotton shirt over it to hide the damage.

2. Beat the Weather

There are times where you can look for stylish and practical. If you’re going to travel to areas where the weather is unpredictable, never leave unprepared. It’s always wise to carry a raincoat or poncho with you, preferably one with an attached hood. There are lots of trendy looking raincoats out there, so you don’t actually need to pack your daddy’s wellingtons in your bag. While you’re at it, don’t forget to pack in a fashionable umbrella. It always pays to be weather-wise so that you don’t remain at the mercy of the elements.

waterproof jacket


3. Layered Clothes

This is especially useful if you’re going on a cross-country road trip where you’ll encounter different types of climates and weather conditions. Layered clothing is a hassle-free way of adjusting your clothes according to the weather, right inside your car. You can simply pull up a jacket if the weather gets chilly. And off comes the top shirt when the sun gets too hot. You’ll have to carry a few basic with you such as a loose blouse, a tank top, a jacket and long sleeves.

4. Leggings

If you plan on partaking in a lot of physical activity on the road trip, such as helping with changing a tire to filling gas or even washing the car, then a basic pair of black leggings is essential. These are comfortable and allow you to walk or run freely. Try to carry one in a darker shade such as navy blue or black because they will hide stains better than lighter colours. Once home, you can drop them in an AJ Madison washer and relax.

feel free

5. Handbags

Your travel bags won’t be the ideal place to put your makeup and other essentials on a road trip. What you need is a large handbag where you can keep all your accessories that you’ll need along the way. A handbag makes things such as sunglasses, cellphones, water bottles, tissues and wallets accessible so that you don’t have to dig into the travel bag all the time. Select one in a colour and material that is comfortable yet that will hide any unintentional damage.

6. Scarves and Hats

These are essential to avoid skin damage or even heatstroke. The good news is that there are so many fashionable designs out there, that you don’t have to worry about looking like a frumpy babysitter on your road trip. Carry some printed scarves and floppy hats to keep the harsh rays of the sun away from your face. They are also a great way to protect your hair against the wind. Pack a large-sized scarf that you can use as a body wrap when the wind gets chilly. 

stylish travel

7. Shorts

While we’re going casual, let’s also pack in some loose shorts. The point is to keep the body well-ventilated, which means that one goes for loose-fitting clothes that allow the air to pass through. Loose-fitting clothes also give your body freedom of movement, which you will need loads of on your road trip. For women, a loose skirt or dungarees is a good option too, especially if you’re going to be seated for several hours at end. They’ll keep you relaxed and comfortable compared to a tight skirt or pants. If you’re worried that you’ll soil your skirts on a dirt track, for instance, carry an extra pair or true. You can wash them in an AJ Madison machine when you get back home.

8. Pick the Right Shoes

Flats and pumps are the best footwear options for a road trip. You’ll probably be doing a lot of walking and physical work. It is important to keep your feet well-aired so that they do not get heated up. One must also ensure that the feet are protected from injury. Canvas flats are recommended because they’re both comfortable and allow a good deal of physical activity without getting damaged. Wearing flats or pumps doesn’t require much effort either—just slip your feet in and you’re good to go, literally!


9. Shades

A few hours into your road trip is enough to make you realize that there is such a thing as too much sun. The best way to avoid getting baked in your car is to pack a cool pair of sunglasses to rest your eyes. Especially if you haven’t had a good sleep for several hours and don’t want to be seen with a tired looking face, a pair of large-framed, dark sunglasses is the best way to hide it from others. Keep one in your bag at all times.

10. Hair Tied Up

Keeping your hair looking classy and stylish on a road trip is no easy task. When you’re on a road trip, you want to pull down the car window and feel the air blowing against your face. It can seem that it’s impossible to keep the wind and dust out of your hair. The best way to be practical and look stylish is to wear your hair nicely tied up in a bun. Don’t try to be too meticulous about it; in fact, the messier it is the cooler you’ll look.

road trip

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The Gratitude List


simple pleasures

Around every 2 months or so I like to look back and reflect on the little adventures and things we have got up too, when life can feel chaotic this can be a great way to get some clarity as gratitude should be something we aim to practice daily - but with anything it does take practice. I'm not going to beat around the bush, the past 6 weeks have been somewhat up and down for a variety of reasons - technical issues, John hurting his back, adjusting to being a mum to a school age child and the playground politics, new friendships and emotions that come with that and seeing my son grow and learn so much over this year. I also lost a dear friend to cancer, she was only 32 and its times like these that the little things that make you smile and laugh each day really do count.

1. We recently spent a weekend exploring Basingstoke as part of the Made in Basingstoke Festival. We were excited to find out that Jane Austen was born 7 miles from Basingstoke and as part of the festival they had these beautifully artist painted benches dotted around the town as part of an art trail

2. A couple of weeks ago we enjoyed a really relaxing walk through the Newport Wetlands and part the lighthouse looking out across the bay. Simple pleasures are what I love most

3. Dyffryn Gardens is one of our favourite local National Trust properties, I take the children there a few times a month although I recently managed the rare thing that is spending an hour or two there by myself, meaning I could slow down and appreciate all the beautiful flowers coming into bloom.

4. Siblings, there are moments when they are best friends, it doesn't happen all the time but their friendship is certainly starting to bloom, especially on outdoor adventures.

5. I have been trying work on a capsule wardrobe as part of my minimalist challenge and sort out what I really do and do not wear. I will always love the Breton and black jean combo, this look always makes me feel good.

6. We spent a glorious few days away from wifi and social media to enjoy each others company and reconnect with nature at our recent Glamping trip in the Wye Valley at Mad Dogs & Vintage Vans

7. Is there anything better than picking fruit fresh from the source and enjoying big juicy strawberries and raspberries, it's something we do each year and absolutely love it. If your looking for a nice PYO in Wales do check out Hendrewennol

8. I've been trying to find more time to enjoy the things I used to do more of - crafting, creating and DIY was one of those things I find have dropped by the wayside late. So I really enjoyed heading to our local garden centre with my eldest and picking up a few small plants and putting together a little indoor garden - such a lovely craft on a rainy day. I share this on the Days Out With Kids blog if your looking to make your own one

9. My youngest is a born adventurer, he loves nothing more than getting really dirty and stuck in and is not fazed by anything. He loved our glamping breaks much, especially wheelbarrow rides from his brother.

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Glamping at Mad Dogs & Vintage Vans Part 2




If you are a regular reader to my blog you may have come across part one of our glamping trip and you will know that we had an amazing time on our recent getaway. Mad Dogs and Vintage Vans has so much to offer all ages and with such an exquisite location in the heart of the Wye Valley I just couldn't do the place justice in one post. The first instalment mainly covered the accommodation so in this second part I wanted to share what we got up to on the site, the facilities and exploring the local area.

Camping Deli


Firstly the site is small but perfectly formed and even with all the caravans rented out it wouldn't feel crowded. All except one (Elsie) is off-grid and doesn't have electric so at night you surround yourself with the beautiful flicker of tea lights and fairy lights, with torches being provided should you fancy a night time walk. This doesn't however mean you cannot charge your phone, near the small parking area is a wall plug just for that, along with a honesty fridge for basic supplies and local produce as well as wood bundles for the fires.

camping kitchen

natural childhood

When it comes to keeping clean the toilet and showers are located in the sheltered wooded area and keeping to their low impact ethos the showers are solar powered (and nice and warm). They have a normal toilet but also a composting toilet which is great for those who want to embrace the off-grid lifestyle which we did.

The wooded area was also an instant favourite with the kids and you can see why, there are logs to climb and dens to build, in fact they use this area during the school term for a forest local school. There is a fire pit with enough space for a group to sit around and cook a stew or roast marshmallows, as well as a rope swing which my boys spent a lot of time on. This area is pretty sheltered and even though we had fantastic weather during our stay I imagine in light rain kids could still run around here completely unaffected. There is also a large communal mess tent which is perfect for wet weather or communal eating. Inside the mess tent is a long dinning table which was beautifully decorated with flowers, as well as a big comfy sofa and a box full of toys and board games, as well as a large gas camping stove.

blonde boy

forest school

Mad Dogs and Vintage Vans is also all about disconnecting from the stresses of daily life and reconnecting with loved ones, family, friends and nature and there is all you need on this site to do that. If you want to get active there is a tennis court waiting to be played, you can also hire bikes or bring your own and a few meters down the road is a dirt track through a farm down to the River Wye. For those ladies who rather indulge in a bit of pampering and relaxation Mad Dogs also offer a service called Pamp and Glam which is just amazing! You can wake up to birdsong and walk over to the lotus tent for a Swedish Massage, Hot Stone massage or one of the many other treatments offered, I did this and it was a truly wonderful and relaxing way to start the day.

Pamp and Glamp

Mad Dogs is also a great base for exploring the local area and less than 10mins down the road is Ross-On-Wye, the nearest market town and such a picturesque town at that. We spent a couple of hours here one afternoon wondering around all the independent shops and you will also find plenty of cafes and traditional country pubs as well as a pretty market square and plenty of walks, which we did a long the River Wye spotting swans, fish and wildlife. Another day trip was spent running around The Kymin in Monmouth, a National Trusts property which offers up some fantastic views across Monmouthshire for the 18th century Roundhouse.

Market town


National Trust

We had a fantastic break away at Mad Dogs, we completely embraced the lack of wifi and mobile internet and in fact we prefer short breaks like this because there is no distractions except those you find in nature. This place saviours all those wonderful simple pleasures and is a great spot to disconnect, relax and recharge and we highly recommend it.

Country Kids

Thanks to Mad Dogs for inviting us to review this unique glamping experience 
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Feel cool in Cashmere



autumn style

Cashmere is one of the most recognisably classic material the fashion world has to offer. It’s never  really goes out of fashion: velvet comes and goes, lamé has made a recent and surprising comeback, but at any period and during in any trend, cashmere is a reliable hallmark of quality and comfort used by the best designers to create luxurious and aspirational clothing and accessories, whether that’s soft, warm scarves or hardwearing but still luxuriously comfortable pullovers.

Finding a good piece of cashmere can be challenge though. The fact it is a classic fabric and an indicator of quality when it comes to clothes means that some labels use it badly in order to grant their designs cache. I know we are currently in summer but that also means is a good time to get in there early with warmer jumpers and scarfs for the winter. 

dog print

Here are some tips to help identify a good piece of cashmere, that could make the difference between snapping up a unique piece for your wardrobe and missing out a defining part of your new outfit.

Look at the Label

Look into the designer behind the piece: If they offer lots of other cashmere clothing, it could be a good sign that they know how to make the most of it as a fabric. If they don’t, this could indicate they aren’t very experienced with it and may not be offering the best cashmere clothes. 

heart jumper

As an example, let’s look at Chinti and Parker’s cashmere jogging pants. If you just saw this item, you might question if it was a good idea: you might not be expecting this style of clothing to be made in cashmere. Looking at the rest of Chinti and Parker’s site, though, you’d find a carefully chosen Athleisure line, and a dedicated cashmere shop, which indicates they have a lot of experience designing with cashmere in different styles and a strong leisure wear sense as well, making this a great buy.

Touch It

If you’re shopping offline, make the most of it. Make sure you’re touching an item before you make a decision: good cashmere should be soft, indicating it’s not been undermilled. If you buy undermilled cashmere, you’re not getting it at its best. If it’s as soft as cashmere should be, give a gentle stretch. It should spring back into shape easily, showing it’s not been overmilled either and is a truly high quality cashmere piece.

cashmere jumper

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