Be A part of the Worlds Biggest Coffee Morning


Drinking coffee

If you read my blog regularly you will know I am passionate about supporting and raising fund for charities that really deserve it, especially as many of these charities offer help to so many in different ways and often rely on donations to keep going. They do say charity starts at home and during this post recession time it can be hard to feel like your able to give much towards a fundraising campaign but this doesn't have to be the case. M&S have partnered with Macmillan for the 8th year in a row to support the Worlds Biggest Coffee morning and who doesn't enjoy a cup of coffee (or tea) and a slice of cake, the great thing is this time all the profits go to Macmillan. This way everyone can get involved, have fun and contribute towards Macmillan Cancer support, a charity that offers such an important service to those going through a difficult time.


There are plenty of coffee mornings happening this week all over the UK as part of the campaign including ones in-store at M&S who are hosting them nationwide and you can use this map to see which is your closest one. They are also donating 10% of sales from their Macmillan baking mixes, limited edition range of Macmillan homeware items and 5p from every host drink and slice of cake sold in their cafes during the month of September. These extra donations have enabled M&S to raise and extra £10 million for the charity over the past 7yrs. 

coffee and cake

Having had two close friends fighting cancer over the past two years I know how important it is to do our bit and make a difference wether big or small as it all really helps and the more people who join in the better. There is still time or organise and host your own coffee morning but if not why not do check out the M&S map to find one happening near you, grab a few friends and head over for a coffee, chat and bite of some lovely cake and remember it's all for a good cause and I cannot think of a better way to spend a Friday 

I am working with M&S to encourage people to take part in Macmillan Worlds Biggest Coffee Morning 
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Your Childs Vision & Ways to keep their Eyes Healthy


nerdy glasses
My eldest having fun with my glasses.

When we think back to school we think new shoes, lunch boxes, books and getting those basics sorted and covered but there is one other thing we should be prioritising as well and that is a regular eye test especially for children over the ages of 5.

It's so easy to forget or just not list it highly on our to do list but one really should especially as having good vision has a huge positive impact on a Childs learning and development. It's also interesting that up to 90% of parents do take their children for regular immunisations yet we seem to not feel the same when it comes to eye health according to research done by laser eye surgery specialists Optegra.

I have to hold my hand up to this too, despite the fact both John and I wear classes we were slow on the uptake when it came to getting our eldest sons eyes checked and thinking about it now there really wasn't a good reason for this as it's hardly takes anytime and the test is simple, quick and free and while the majority won't have any issues, parents will feel reassured either way after a trip to the Optometrists.

cool family

There are a few signs that your child is struggling with their vision and the best thing to do is simply pop down to your local Optometrist and make an appointment - here are a few

1. Your child is sitting very close to the TV
2. Your child is struggling with school work or reading
3. Is complaining of being unable to see the whiteboard in school properly
4. Is squinting, straining or eyes not moving together
5. Has fallen behind at school

Once you have visited your local eye specialist and you know the score there are also three key ways to ensure excellent eye health.

1. Food is Life

The food we eat is so important, especially for growing children and our eyes also depend on certain vitamins and nutrients to work as efficiently as possible. Eating the rainbow as they say so important and you should get everyone in the family to aim to get their 5 a day with foods such as melon, carrots, tomatoes, blueberries, eggs and wholegrain are all packed with eye-friendly nutrients.

2. The great outdoors

Kids love being outdoors and not only is it fun but has a positive impact on so much of our lives from fitness and health to our mood and research has also show that time spend outdoors is beneficial in helping prevent myopia or short-sightedness in children. Try and aim for a little bit of outdoor time as a family each day as it's something you will all benefit from.

natural childhood

3. Make a visual stimulating environment

Did you know the your eyes continue to develop from birth right up until the age of eight meaning that visual development and stimulation within the home and outdoors is really important. If you have a baby or toddler there is a reason why high contrast toys and mirrors are the perfect choice for little ones as it gives their eyes something to try and focus on. For older children find a few games that involves hand-eye coordination such as building blocks, lego, reading, puzzles and also kicking or throwing a ball.

It really is so easy to make sure you take the steps for your children to have optimal visual health and there is no excuse to have an eye test as they are free for anyone under the age of 16 and you also get an optical voucher should your child need classes. An annual eye test is certainly something you should put down alongside getting new shoes for school and it really doesn't cost you a thing.

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How to Keep your home safe while travelling


kids luggage

The days of simply locking your front door and heading to the airport or on a road trip or even just a weekend away are long gone. With more and more people on social media, showcasing holiday snaps, it's easy for the general public to know when your away and that can of course cause some issues when it comes to home security. Most burglaries occur when people aren’t home and is many cases are away for a few days, but that doesn’t make you feel any less victimized. It doesn’t make recovery any less emotional or frustrating. It doesn’t make you feel any more secure at night when you lay down to sleep.

1. Being careful on social media and websites

You have to be mindful about information sharing on social media. If your accounts are public they are open to anyone readying them including thieves who are now scouring social media trying to find personal information that can be used for their own benefit. You also have to be very careful about sharing your whereabouts. If someone finds out you’re going on vacation or won’t be at home your house will become a target. Of course we want to share spectacular places we are travelling too but perhaps use a bit of buffering or time delay so post a day or two after you arrive and not straight away. Also there is no harm in mentioning you have a friend/family member house sitting, these are just basic ways to put off anyone who thinks your house is standing vacant.

Today, more people are moving towards whole home security because of this and it is certainly a wise idea of re-evulate how safe your home is while your not there. These comprehensive systems that provide protection online and offline are the future of home security. Here are three reasons why whole home security is becoming the norm:

Nice France
Share memories but just be mindful 

Alarm Systems Can Do More Than Shriek

At one point home alarm systems had one primary purpose – scare off intruders. They’d blast a shrieking alarm that was loud enough to wake up the entire neighbourhood. But if the intruder planned to move fast or knew how to disable the noise, that’s where the alarm’s benefits end. Also unless you know your neighbours many may not react to this until it becomes a nuisance and by that point, the crime has already taken place.

There are additional tools you can use to complement your alarm systems. Companies like Verisure Smart Alarms offer security cameras, video doorbells, and photodetectors which can offer an extra level of protection. These can help law enforcement identify suspects, as well as prove to insurers that certain items were stolen from your home. However, if you want the most reliable, comprehensive security possible a monitored alarm system is a must. With this type of system, your alarm alerts a team of security specialists at a monitoring hub. They can then connect to the system to try to correspond with the owner while simultaneously alerting the local authorities. This means no matter where you are they will get in touch, let you know your alarm has gone off and give you options on how you want to proceed.

You may think that having a security team on-call monitoring the activity at your home would be too expensive to afford on a monthly basis. However, security companies like ADT or Alarm Relay are making this type of service affordable for more people.


Protecting Personal Information

Security isn’t complete these days without having systems in place to protect your personal information. While when we travel many of us take our laptops with us but if not you need to have these secured somewhere safe and the same goes with any other Digital devices that contain personal information. Also while you are on the road make sure both your laptop and phone have strong passwords and you can also install Laptop and Phone tracking software.

Mail Protection

Some identity thieves still use an old school method for gaining personal information – the mail. It's a good idea if you do travel to not have a mailbox outside your front door that can be accessed or broken into and rather the slip opening in your front door. Also opt to go paperless for as many things as possible meaning less personal information is sent via the post.

Keep home safe

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Radisson Blu Edwardian Hampshire Review


Leicester Square

On our recent trip to London's West End as part of Kids Week we stayed at the beautiful Radisson Blu Edwardian Hampshire Hotel in Leicester Square, even though I briefly mentioned it in my post about our weekend I wanted to do a separate review as this place really warrants that. 

We love visiting London as a family but the one thing I have learned is if you have planned an action-packed day then staying somewhere which is well located is key in reducing the stress that comes with carting kids from one side of a city to another. Also having somewhere comfortable, welcoming and family-friendly to rest your head at the end of a busy day makes for a happy family in the morning and luckily The Radisson Blu Hampshire is all these things. Located on Leicester Square and only a stones throw away from all the theatres of the West End, the National Portrait Gallery and Trafalgar Square plus plenty of places to eat you really have everything you need.

Family travel London

luxury London hotel

We arrived early as the West End show we had tickets for was on around midday, our room wasn't ready yet but the reception staff could not have been more helpful and immediately whisked away our bags into storage and helped with directions to the Theatre. Once we returned our room was not only ready but we had been upgraded to a Junior Suite which was perfect for our little family of four with two small single beds and a super luxurious king. Bottled water and fresh fruit was waiting on our arrival and after having a little recharge in our room we headed back out but you could easily spend a few hours just relaxing here or popping down to the stylish city bar downstairs.

Radisson Blu Hampshire

Radisson Blue Hampshire

The one thing we all love doing is trying out different hotel breakfasts and my eldest especially enjoyed this, he is not a particularly adventurous eater at home but at a hotel he will give pretty much anything a try such as the Chia seed pot and fresh fruit smoothie shots. The breakfast dining area is lovely and light filled and very stylish, with staff being attentive but not intrusive in anyway and on hand to help you with anything you need. John ordered the Mexican eggs with Avocado and I had the most delicious French toast while my youngest loved the freshly baked pastries.

Leicester Square Kitchen

If your looking for an oasis in the busy capital city than I highly recommend the Radisson Blu Hampshire whether you are with kids or not as this would also make for a great child-free break as they also offer in-room spa treatments as well as a gym, luxury bar and lounge and The Leicester Square Kitchen for those who are keen foodies. Do check our our vlog from our family fun weekend on the West End.

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Give up Clothes for Good



This year for me has been a lot about personal development, learning that great things can happen from small ideas and one person really can make a difference and if we work together that impact can be even greater. With so much going on in the world its felt in many ways a bit of a negative time but I have been very focused on bringing positivity into my life through positive actions that can help others. Having grown up in South Africa I am fully aware of how lucky I am to be healthy and able to provide for my children, for many this is a huge struggle, not only in South Africa but worldwide.

I still work on my minimalist challenge and even though I am not as far as I was hoping I would be at this point it's something that is changing the way I think about things and putting gratitude at the forefront of my daily life through simple pleasures, family and wellbeing. Minimalizing my life has also been a slower process than expected because I didn't simply just want to get rid of things I wanted to do it in a sustainable way by recycling, upcycling, finding a new home for the things I no longer need and hopefully also raising some money for charity and giving back to organizations that really need help.

So I'm really excited to be collaborating with TK Maxx and Cancer Research UK Kids & Teens who are encouraging people between 1st Sept - 30th September to give up any unwanted good quality clothes, accessories or homeware items and drop them off instore as part of one of the UK's longest running clothes collections. This fundraising partnership has raised £30.3m since 2004. £26.3 million of this total directly funds research into cancers affecting children and young people, with a further £4 million supporting general cancer research. September is also Childhood Cancer Awareness Month and being a mother myself I feel it's really important to support charities like this because they rely so heavily on donations.

Even though I have already done quite a big clear out of my wardrobe I still managed to find a few pieces I simply don't wear anymore and remember what no longer works for you could be perfect for someone else. Also we all know kids shoot up and quickly out-grow their clothes and they quickly pile up so not only would these go to a fantastic cause but also free up some space in their wardrobes too, so a win win all round.

The whole process was really easy, I simply bagged up some clothes I didn't need, headed into Cardiff and dropped them off at the city centre store and was immediately hit with that feel good factor. So now that I have donated I nominate Alison from Not Another Mummy Blog, Claire Evans from the Diary of Evans-Crittens, Gill from Baby on Board and Rachel from The Little Pip, as well as anyone who is reading this blog, share the love and get involved. 

Donated items are sold in Cancer Research UK shops and all money raised goes directly towards helping beat children’s cancers sooner so let’s pull together and make a real difference this September.

So I'm really excited to be collaborating with TKMaxx and Cancer Research Kids & Teens who are encouraging people between 1st Sept - 30th September to give up any unwanted good quality clothes and homewares in one of the UK's longest running clothes collections. This fundraising partnership has raised £30m since 2004. September is also Childhood Cancer Awareness Month and being a mother myself I feel it's really important to support charities like this because they rely so heavily on donations.

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Exploring The Old Station, Tintern, Wye Valley


Welsh wandering

We love the Wye Valley and feel very lucky to live close enough to enjoy day trips to this beautiful part of Wales with quaint towns and plenty of countryside to explore. During the summer we wanted to keep our family days out as simple as possible and get outdoors at every opportunity. As my youngest is obsessed with trains we came across The Old Station in Tintern and after a little research we thought it fit the bill for fun train inspired day out.

Old Station Tintern

Old Station Tintern

The drive there through the winding roads from Chepstow is really spectacular especially as you pass the impressive Tintern Abbey (highly recommend you visit this Cadw site) along the river Wye which eventually leads you to the Old Victorian Station. We didn't really know what to expect and if there would be enough to do to full up a whole day, we had checked in advance that the narrow gauge train was running which we knew would be a hit with both of the boys. This train is run by volunteers and you can find out the days they are running on the Old Station Facebook page.

Old Station Tintern

Old Station Tintern

There is plenty of parking spaces and despite a small charge to park the site is free, you can also camp here overnight in a small camping area at around £5 per night which is amazing value given the location. There are two old train carriages, one is a small shop which stocks treats and train related toys and the other an information point offering history on the area and the station. The original signal box has been converted into a small art gallery with local artists displaying work and the large green lawn is perfect for picnics and kids to run up and down. 

The old station building is now a bustling cafe, with memorabilia hanging on the walls and offers up traditional afternoon tea, freshly baked scones and locally sourced ice-cream. On the day we were there they had live music and it was really nice being able to sit outside eating good food listening to the band while the kids playing in the wooden train and play park. The play are has plenty for young and older kids including a popular zip wire and small obstacle course.

Countryside walk

Wy Valley

Just beyond the kids playground is a 1 mile trail that is suitable for all ages and has iron sculptures to spot along the way. Around half way you come out along the River Wye where we spotting people fishing and offers some wonderful views across the countryside. There are also plenty of cycle routes near here and even the 1 mile trail was cycle friendly with my eldest putting that to the test on his bike. 


Tintern Wales

If your looking to get away from the city for the day or just fancy exploring somewhere new than the Old Station is a great choice and offers plenty of open spaces for children to run around without any distractions, just enjoying the simple pleasures in life. I can also vouch for the homemade scones in the cafe which are delicious (as is their vegan dark chocolate covered flapjacks). We spent the best part of a day her, riding the narrow gauge train twice, listening to good music and taking the calming surroundings and this is certainly somewhere we are sure to go back to in the future.

father and son

Wye Valley Wales

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How to Stay Connected While travelling


Looking across London

We travel a fairly regularly, usually on city breaks or to self catering staycations or further afield with at least one or two glamping trips thrown in each summer. What I have learnt is no matter wether it's a luxury hotel or a yurt in the middle of nowhere you really cannot reply on wifi, reception or being able to efficiently charge your phone and laptop. There have been countless amount of times when I have not been able to access both free and paid for wifi at hotels (queue major frustration) or we have been on long train trips and the plug at the bottom of the seat doesn't work. The thing is especially when it comes to phones they are no longer just a phone it's a Map, GPS, our main source of communication as well as the ability to search, change or book accommodation while on the road so having a full battery and preferably some wifi is always key.

nomad lifestyle

We recently went to a festival, we had been to this same one two years ago and despite there being a charging points, during the three days there wasn't one free station no matter how long we waitied but this time we came prepared. I packed two small power banks which would give one full charge and then a bigger power bank that would give just over two full charges and these just gave us enough tech juice to keep both John and I up and running throughout the festival, which was a godsend really especially when we would get split up and it was such a large site and with two small children you want to be able to keep in touch.

When it comes to wifi if we are on a short city break that's usually fine, I always take my laptop with me but it's not the end of the world if I cannot get online for day or two, the problem comes in when your travelling for a longer time, work doesn't stop so the need to be able to keep up today in the evenings is a must and if this cannot happen due to unreliable connection it can cause a lot of stress. One option is investing in a mobile dongle to prevent this from happening while on our adventures although I wanted to explore more options. This has made me think a lot about the simple preparation we can take to help us stay connected (unless of course you are on a technology break holiday) in 5 easy steps.

mobile phone

1. Always pack your extra chargers and International adaptors

Yes this may seem really obvious but I know I've left my chargers at home before when I have packed in a rush and even though most hotels now have usb chargers in the room thats not always the case. Do your research before hand and make sure you have the right International adaptor if you are going overseas and when packing I have a section of my luggage specifically for tech accessories where I pack at least one phone charger, laptop charge and usb to mini USB port.

2. Carry a portable power bank.

I think it's a good idea to have a small power bank in your daily bag as these are very useful when you suddenly find your battery nearly flat. They do take a while to charge but they are extremely compact although usually don't do more than one charge but if your just out for a day trip these are perfect. You can also get iPhone charger cases which fit conveniently onto your phone and automatically power down with your phone is at full charge meaning you can go a whole day without worrying at all.

charging backpack

3. Consider investing in a Power Backpack

I recently came across these fantastic smart backpacks which hold a powerful charging base that can charge multiple devices at one time and is perfect for those heading off on a road trip, festival or camping where you are going to be away from a power point for a few days. The backpacks are also strong and spacious, water-proof and double up as luggage which is great for any adventure.

4. Rent a Mobile Dongle

If you know you are going to be travelling to a place where wifi will be unreliable and you really cannot go without than why not rent a mobile dongle. Of course you can buy one but this gives a more flexible option. Tep Wireless offer some great options for portable fast broadband which can be hired for any duration and used worldwide

5. Research where you are going.

If you want to save costs it's worth researching your destinations to see if your accommodation has reliable wifi and if not are their any cafes or coffeeshops nearby that would allow you to get online and keep up to date with emails, social media or any other pressing work, all while enjoying a good cup of jojo.

travelling advice

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Encouraging your kids to love swimming


Villa Pool

My eldest fell over in a shallow pool when he was about 2yrs old, I was right next to him at the time, he was splashing and laughing and then slipped, he was only under the water for a matter of seconds but that little incident scared him, after that he wasn't so keen to get back in the water. Since then our journey of getting him to love swimming has been a bit up and down but now with his 7th birthday fast approaching it's all changed, he much more confident and has mastered swimming under the water, jumping in and swimming unaided its made for a fun and splash filled summer.

Learning from the things that have and have not worked with our eldest we have approached the topic of swimming in a different way with our youngest who at 2.5 and absolutely loves it and together we now have two boys who are equally enthused about the water as I am and it's becoming a family activity we can all do together.

family holiday
My mother and my eldest on holiday in the South of France 

So I thought I would share my tips on encouraging your kids to love swimming.

1. Start early

My youngest has been doing toddler swimming lessons for the past few weeks and loves it, he is already starting to learn essential skills and can kick, lie on his back and hold onto the side. I know he will go from strength to strength and I wish we had done this with my eldest.

2. Invest in Lessons

I find personally when it comes to new things that children often respond better to someone they don't know. I am a very strong swimmer, having grown up in South Africa and done spring board diving to National level I felt I had the skills to get him started but it was harder than I thought. As parents we naturally want to protect our children when they are nervous but this can hold them back from taking the plunge and break through the barrier of being nervous around water. Investing in at least a couple of lessons to get them started is a very wise choice, group settings also often help as friendships are made and they often want to learn at the same pace as their friends.

swimming in the sea
Enjoying the sea on the Isles of Scilly

3. Head to the beach

Swimming and water confidence should be all about fun, sometimes public swimming pools can be daunting for children but the beach is usually always a hit. Having safe and supervised fun in and around water really helps to build confidence so a trip to the seaside and getting your toes wet is a great family day out that will help build a love for water with your kids. Check out my post on being beach ready with kids.

4. Get on the water

This summer we really embraced getting on the water as much as possible, whether that be on a peddle boat on Roath Lake, rowing around an river island at Rode Gardens or doing a canoe safari at Llanelli wetlands its a great way to gain confidence as well as respect for the water and learning a new skill.

Rowing boat

5. Embrace the British Summer with a Paddling Pool

Yes it's coming to the end of Summer but as we all know the British Weather is somewhat unpredictable and I wouldn't be surprised if we have another warm blast before Autumn sets in. As with most parents we embrace these warm moments to the fullest and that means hours in the garden and paddling pool time. Bring out some toys, water balloons and make it fun if you have a child who is nervous of water. Of course always supervise your kids around paddling pools.

British summer

6. Get involved.

Children will often lead from example, if your not keen to get into the pool they won't be either. Luckily both John and I love swimming but I have found myself recently in a real need of a decent swimming costume especially when it comes to taking my toddler to his lessons. I did a lot of swimming while I was pregnant but that meant my swimming costume became stretched and lets just say not very flattering at all and my bikini is not really suitable for swim classes. Its my birthday soon so I am going to invest in a new swimming costume that is practical but also stylish and I am loving these four at the moment.

Do you have any tips that have worked for you and your kids? Do share them

jumping off a jetty

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Getting school ready with Debenhams


 I seriously cannot believe how quick the summer holidays have flown by and school is starting next week! My son has shot up and of course nothing from last year fits him this year, plus on top of that he is changing schools, which we are all really excited about. His new school doesn't have a strict uniform as it's fairly small but they still ask all clothes be practical, durable and long wearing which Debenhams does really well. We stopped into our local store to check out their back to school range which has a fantastic price point as well as quality

When it comes to clothes my eldest simply won't wear anything that is not comfortable but he has been wearing this navy jumper for two days straight so I know that is a hit plus its tumble and machine washable and easy to iron making mornings less stressful. Their Uniform collection has been designed to make things as quick as possible, all the shirts are easy care and iron, plus the jackets are shower-proof and lightweight and the shoes are scuff-resistant which is perfect for active children.

Besides traditional uniform they of course have an amazing selection of kids clothes, luckily my eldest is allowed to wear jeans at school so we picked up a pair from their Blue Zoo label for one £10! Like most parents I really want school clothes to last as well as not spend a small fortune each year so with packs of shirts starting from £5 this is a great option to get them kitted out without breaking the bank. 

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