29-6-16 cheetahs at paradise park

Paradise Park – A day out with the family in Hertfordshire

A Perfect Family Day out

Last weekend on father’s day hubby was recovering from a hangover after a stag do so the boys and I escaped early to leave him to vegetate on the sofa in peace whilst we headed out to Paradise park. I call that the perfect father’s day pressie. We have been to Paradise Park a few times but I know there are lots of bits that we have never seen or experienced before so the trip this time was to try a bit of everything.

Paradise Park Animals

First stop was a walk around the animals, this is something I have done time and time again and never tire of. As it 29-6-16 meerkats at paradise parkwas early lots of the animals were out and about or eating. My top 3 animals were 3) The snow leopards, 2) the white lions and 1) The otters were just too cute. The boys loved 3) the cheetahs eating chunks of meat, 2) the monkeys for amusement and 1) the meerkats.

29-6-16 lions at paradise park 29-6-16 otters at paradise park

29-6-16 cheetahs at paradise park

Bird Display

After a 20-minute stop at the snake helter-skelter and the bouncy castles we went to watch the bird display. 10 minutes early meant a perfect place to eat our packed lunch I had brought with us. The bird show was brilliant. We got to see the cutest parrots, a huge owl swooping right above our heads and a crazy golden hawk from the Falklands who sneaks into tents to steal food and can open a picnic basket.

29-6-16 cute parrot at paradise park29-6-16 falklands hawk at paradise park

Crazy Golf

Next was crazy golf which normally costs as extra £1.50 per person. I didn’t even know this existed! The boys had a wonderful time. I didn’t keep score as I felt tired at that point so sat at every point I could;-) They wanted to repeat the 18 holes..please no.. onto the splash park.

Splash Lagoon

29-6-16 splash park at paradise parkThe splash lagoon is another thing we have never done before mainly because I normally forget the swimming shorts. I remembered this time so they were happy for 30 minutes. Jack did not want to get out ever.

Woodland Walk

Ice cream time for the boy and the woodland walk to keep me happy. There is a stunning woodland walk where the wolves, reindeers and dinosaurs live. Jack was most impressed with seeing kung-fu panda. We gave the reindeers some food. There is a beautiful pond with an RSPB bird lookout. We saw a few ducks and moorhens. Can’t beat a bit of nature.29-6-16 woodland walk at paradise park

We walked through the outdoor play section, and spent another 30 minutes doing the assault course, bouncy castle slide, swings, pirate ship, fire engine and train..which took us to 3pm for the reptile encounter.

Reptile Encounter

29-6-16 snake at paradise parkThis was the highlight of the day for Josh, who was desperate to get near a snake. He certainly did, the head/hair in the picture is Josh. This is a python. There were too many people to touch the snake, too stressful. I would feel the same snakey.

 

The day was complete and we headed over to the discovery centre to say thank you and good bye to the lovely team and headed home.

A brilliant day thoroughly enjoyed by everyone. Particularly hubby who got to watch formula 1, golf and football in peace.

Go on over to their website to book tickets for summer holiday amusement. There are often money saving deals out there and vouchers so be sure to check out vouchercode sites and hotukdeals etc for a great deal.

This post is written in collaboration with Paradise Park and we received the tickets and VIP bands free of charge.

gallstones

Gallstones – Now I need my Gallbladder removed.

What Has Caused my Gallstones?

This week after 3 years of symptoms, tests, operations booked, operations cancelled, A&E visits and a lot more pain, my doctor has told me my gallstones mean I need to have my gallbladder removed. I tried to argue it, I asked did my C-section cause it, did my pregnancies cause it?

Um no gallstones are common is women, who are getting older who are over-weight (FFF female, forty, fat). Oh my word. I am not even 40, but yep definitely female and yep I have been overweight my entire life. A sudden sense of impending age and me not looking after my health hits me hard.

The Pain & Diagnosis

Around 3 years ago I ended up in A&E. I had the worst stomach cramps, equivalent to 8cm dilated labour pains but constant. At least contractions come and go. And just to let you know I have a VERY low pain threshold.

Eventually the pain stopped after about 6 hours and off I toddled to maybe 5 different consultations, scans, tests to investigate the problem. I was working at EE then, and I had private health care so everything was done very quickly. Eventually the doctors worked out I had small gallstones and this was the cause of the pain.

I was booked in for the gall bladder removal April 2014. The date they gave me clashed with a big holiday and I had 25-6-16 gallstonesbiologyjust got a new job at work. The operation was 6 weeks off work and holiday cancellation, so I postponed it.

And you know what the pain stopped. Through the whole of 2014 and 2015 I was fine. In 2015 I left EE, lost 2 ½ stone of weight and then the pain started again with a vengeance.

An Attack

A memorable attack was on holiday in Las Vegas this year in April. I had a raging hangover on day 2 of the holiday and all I needed was caffeine and food. I had a breakfast burrito with eggs and strong coffee with cream. This made me feel very full but better.

We headed out that morning to a very exciting helicopter trip over the Grand Canyon. We flew to the skyline walkway and gave myself a panic attack walking over a glass bottomed bridge 1000 ft. over the Grand Canyon.

25-6-16 gallstoneattackWe arrive back at the heliport at lunchtime and the pain started. Crippling cramps. I downed a litre of water, no effect. I walked around, I rubbed and rubbed the pain. No effect. I took paracetamol, Nexium, no effect. I went to the juice bar in our hotel and showed them my stomach, now distended to 6-month pregnant look. They advised ginger and beetroot. No effect. All I could do was moan, cry and lie in bed in Las Vegas of all places. A little pain filled sleep helped.

Dinner that night was one the nicest steak restaurants in the world. I felt slightly better 7 hours later, the long walk from Aria to Palazzo helped. But I couldn’t drink and I couldn’t eat much. My $70 steak ended up being eaten by hubby.

Pain Management

So when back in the UK I went back to the doctors and told him I couldn’t cope. I had had 3 attacks in the space of 1 month. Blood tests were done to check it wasn’t something more sinister, all was fine…taking us up to the appointment on Thursday. Gall bladder to be removed.

Since then everything I eat is causing pain from porridge made with semi-skimmed milk to a gluten free fruit & nut bars to red wine to fruit smoothies. This is not good so this morning I have a meeting with my yoga guru and nutritionist friend Helena to help me out.

I will be waiting at least 3-months for this operation (no more private health-care now I am self-employed) so I have to know what to eat without causing me pain. I’ll let you know how I get on.

22-6-16 RSPB garden - BB Good food Live

Don’t Panic its all going to be Okay #EUref #EUrefresult

Here is my quick don’t panic top 10 tips for dealing with the result of the EU referendum.

Top 10 Tips for dealing with the Panic

  1. Stop reading social media, particularly Facebook & Twitter.
  2. Think positive thoughts.
  3. Try to avoid TV/newspapers that focus on the news. All will have a strong view on whether its feast or famine.
  4. I am currently watching Maria Forleo TV, a life coach guru. Also listening to Scott Mills on Radio 1 for the music. They played Sugarhill gang not long ago (heart)
  5. Write a grateful list.
  6. Create a Goal board, pictures of what you are aiming for in the future. Print them out and pin to a board.
  7.  15-6-16 Grateful List

7. Write a short and achievable to-do list and have some focus today

8. Focus on this beautiful sunny day ahead, the nature surrounding you and the birds tweeting.

9. Hug your children. There may be tough economical times ahead but it will get better with time, positivity ad determination. Like any distraction in life.

10. Everything is Firguroutable. Love this from Maria Forleo.

 

Everything Is Figureoutable: My Oprah SuperSoul Session

22-6-16 large rucksack front view -aldi camping

Camping Special Buy Offers at Aldi. Inc tents & rucksacks

The Joy of Camping

The last time I went camping was when I was a child. In 1988 I have a vivid memory of walking around the campsite singing ‘Hand on my heart’ by Kylie. Then in 1993 I did Duke of Edinburgh Bronze Award which involved a lot of getting lost in Cornish fields, volunteering in a local old peoples home and camping (in the rain).

So 20ish years later I appear to be going camping again. We as a family are off to a festival at the end of July which requires us to camp on the Saturday night with children. I’m not so sure I am happy about the camping aspect, maybe we will have the car close by as a last resort!

We have nothing suitable for camping, no tents, sleeping bags, torches, cooking things, anything. So imagine my joy when Aldi kindly sent me a box full of goodies to test with the children. The boys were beyond excited to rip the box open and investigate everything. I also took the box of goodies to a barbeque last week for my camping expert friend Matt to investigate the products.

Inflatable sofa £19.99

The 7 children present at barbeque went mad for the sofa. They invented a lot of jumping, running, climbing games. see the short YouTube clip. To be honest it kept them happy for at least 1 hour, therefore its brilliant value for money. And its comfy. We set it up in our living room last night for the England footy as we had 8 people requiring seats. It went down a storm.

22-6-16 inflatable sofa - aldi camping 22-6-16 inflatable sofa game -aldi camping 22-6-16 inflatable sofa and made.com sofa - aldi camping

Giant hiking rucksack £19.99

22-6-16 large rucksack front view -aldi camping 22-6-16 large rucksack back view -aldi campingMatt was very excited about this product. His children do Beavers/Rainbows/Scouts all those adventure type activities. Soz my boys just do a lot of football, and cricket in the summer;-). He said the 70 litre bag was perfect for the children to take on their camping trips and Duke of Edinburgh award trips. We got Josh to try it on, who is 6 and it fitted him okay, maybe be a tad big;-)

The pads are really comfy, it’s got hundreds of useful pockets and features including a cool rain cover. Most importantly to me it’s a nice colour. We also thought it would be great to take travelling/to a festival.

Smaller Multi-Functional Rucksack £8.99

I really like this and have been using it for days out with the kids and the school run when I have lots to carry. Its22-6-16 small rucksack -Aldi camping blue and pink, again pretty colours, important for me;-). It has got lots of handy pockets and a rain cover which came in very handy to wrap up soaking wet swimming costumes on Sunday after the splash park. It’s got a great front pocket for your keys and phone and lip gloss.

Ultra-Comfort Sleeping bag £17.99

These appear to have changed in the past 20 years. This one is warm, cosy and huge. You could easily sleep 2 people in it. They would need to be cuddling, but you could. My boys have been using it as a relaxation tool in the evenings whilst watching TV.

22-6-16 sleeping bag - aldi camping

22-6-16 small rucksack and lights - aldi campingLighting

We have a very trendy monkey head lamp £2.99, lantern £2.99 and tent clip on lights £9.99. Matt says these are all very useful and will give out lots of light. Jack our 3-year-old who loves monkeys was very excited about the head lamp.

Tent

So we are still missing the all-important tent, there are a few available at Aldi. There is a 5-man tent for £79.99. This sounds like an incredible bargain. Just a little Amazon search tells me that they can range from £100 upwards. They also have a smaller pop up tent for £19.99.

22-6-16 5man tent -aldi camping gear

If you are a bit unsure about camping, like us, don’t spend a fortune on the gear. Head to Aldi and get great value for money. And who knows maybe you will like it and go camping for 6 weeks every year. Apparently you do feel very free and at one with nature. Not sure that will be the experience at the festival. We’ll see!!

I was given all of the mentioned products free of charge by Aldi, except the tent. All model are my children, or my friends children. Thank you to Gem, Matt, William & Olivia Faver and Helen, Andy, Thomas and Isabelle Hayes.

22-6-16 Colourful garden - BBC Good food Live

My day at BBC Good Food Show Summer & Gardeners’ World Live

BBC Good Food Show!!

Last week started out stressful and then ended in such a brilliant way. I was invited by the organisers of BBC Good Food Live to come visit the event to see what I thought. I have been to my fair share of events, Ideal Home Exhibition, Baby & Toddler show, Stylist live and London Fashion Week but this was certainly the biggest and the best I have ever been to. Hubby and I are huge foodies and I adore flowers, just check out my Instagram feed @mrsmummypennyuk. So this was the most perfect event for me to spend hours wondering and chatting to the producers and the guys who run the event.

So off I drove to Birmingham straight after the school run to the NEC. First stop was the green room to meet the team and have a chat about the event. Heart attack time, this was the actual same green room as all the celebrities. I walked in, was welcomed by the lovely staff and given coffee. Yum, yes please, I had only got 4 hours sleep the previous night following an event in London!

I looked around and there was Mary Berry, Paul Hollywood and Paul Rankin. OMG.

22-6-16 Mary Berry - BBC Good food Live 22-6-16 Paul Hollywood - BBC Good food Live

My main job of the day was to explore. Check out as much of the BBC Good Food Live show and the Gardeners World show as possible. There was a lot of ground to cover. I needed to get my bearings and plan my route.

Exploring the Event

I grabbed a program and off I went. Most of the indoor stands offered samples of their amazing products, drinks and food. You can try anything from beef jerky to artisan gin to cheese. There was a lot of cheese. Any stands that particularly caught my eye I had a chat to the business owners. I was on the lookout for innovative products that were great tasting/great value and useful.

I will feature my favourite products in a post to be published later this week. But I fell in love with coconut oil, New Zealand pinot noir and the RSPB to name a few.22-6-16 RSPB garden selfie - BBC Good food Live

I headed back to the green room as soon as I had too many bags to carry. Lunch was followed with a rest and a bit of time to digest what I had seen. I also had a great chat to Mary and Paul. Yep, we are on first name terms. They were both very lovely and very normal people, Mary and I discussed the busy life as a mum of 3 boys, childcare, twitter and her chocolate marble cake. With Paul we talked about savoury snacks and how I can still eat bread even though I might be intolerant to gluten. I met Paul Hollywood’s mum as we got front seat spots at the 3:30 cooking show. We were talking about pride in your children, and how she feels seeing her son on the stage at the top of his game. It made me a bit emotional.

The BBC Good Food Live Stage

Mary and Paul on stage demonstrated no-knead bread and stuffed chicken thighs. Yum Yum. I will be making both recipes. The camera man was a very funny man who took 22-6-16 Stage selfie - BBC Good food Livea particular liking to the stars, stroking shoulders and drawing on their cookbooks!

After the show I went for more of an explore to the outdoor areas and the gardener’s world bit. My photos best describe the event. The show gardens and flower tent were AMAZING. They took my breath away. The smells and sights were stunning. Some of the flowers arrangements actually made me a bit tearful, maybe this was because I was getting tired and my 4 hours sleep from the previous night was catching up with me;-)

 

22-6-16 Tropical Garden - BBC Good food Live 22-6-16 Stunning Alliums - BBC Good food Live

22-6-16 Rhino - BBC Good food Live22-6-16 Colourful garden - BBC Good food Live

22-6-16 grow your veg - BBC Good food Live 22-6-16 Dahlia - BBC Good food Live22-6-16 Wyevale show garden - BBC Good food Live

Gardeners World Live

We don’t do gardens in our house, we have astro-turfed the garden so the boys can play football and we have no flowers as footballs will kill them. I did plant a few daffodils and crocus bulbs at the front of our house early this year;-) I chatted to a few gardeners who told me I had done the best thing for our lifestyle…and they would do the same! I also met a gardener whose cousin is one of Dylan’s coaches at Cambridge United. It’s a small world!

Entertainment for the Whole Family

There is so much stuff to keep the children amused. There were giant astroturf animals, there were donkeys and chickens. There was a big children’s tent full of fun activities including sushi making and cake decorating. Josh the creative one would be in heaven. Kids can learn how to grow their own vegetables. There is also a crèche and childcare if you wanted some child free time to wonder around by yourself (and maybe try a sneaky gin or glass of wine;-)).

22-6-16 My freebies - BBC Good food LiveI can absolutely say this is one of the best live shows I have ever been too, in terms of freebies, celebrities, activities for me, friendliness of people on stands, family fun, learning about exciting new products. And the great news is that there is not long until the next show in November. A Christmas themed one. You need to go!!

I would love to bring my boys to the November show, and would also like to bring a bus load of friends. Jane would love the gardeners bit (I mean the actual gardeners!), Neil would love the wine. Lucy would love the freebies. Niknik would love all the pet products and kiddies activities. Emma & Sarah would adore the baking fun. Debs would love to be 5 metres away from Paul Hollywood;-) There is something for everyone.

Come back to www.mrsmummypenny.co.uk on Sunday for another post showcasing the brands and products I fell in love with including Coppernose Beef Jerky, Vita Coco, Good full stop bars, the olive shop products and RSPB.

A different story about Father’s Day

Father’s Day reflection

I have been reflecting a lot over the past few weeks about my dad. A few weeks back it was 20 years to the day since he had died. I remembered when we were on route to Bristol…I popped a comment on Facebook about having a drink for him and I got an amazing response from nearly 4000 of you guys (heart).

My dad died when I was 19. Mum had died 3 years earlier when I was 16…read this post for that story. I proceeded to spend my late teenage years going off the rails some would say. I drank a lot, went out a lot, had sex with a few people I shouldn’t have. I had sex with a couple of right people too (MT rest in peace and GB you were definitely a right one).

Underneath this behaviour was some sense. My dad was old school at home as mum had done everything for him. So I had to step in and run the house, shopping, washing, ironing, dusting. This could explain why I resent all these jobs now??!! This went on a while until Eve came along, a close friend of my mum & dads. She and my dad got together, and she started running the house. That made me happy. I was a bit shocked when they got married 2 years after mum died, I’ll save that story for my book.

So the sense refers to me always knowing I was clever. Teachers at school were brilliant and really encouraged my education and drove me to perform well in my A-levels to get to university. So despite the Thurs/Fri/Sat night drink binging I still studied and did okay in my A-levels. Off I toddled to Brunel in West London to study Mathematics, some of the best years of my life.

University

First year of university I continued off the rails…but I actually sought counselling, mainly because my friend Julie told me I was a bitch and ordered me to get help (thanks Julie). I still screwed up my first year in terms of study, however in May 1999, 1 week before my final first year exams I got the phone call about my dad.

It is really strange because I had spent a lot of the past three years almost predicting that my dad was going to die. I kept imagining life with no parents, if one parent could die, so could the other. It is a proven phenomenon that when one partner dies the other often follows (normally when older 70’s/80’s) but my dad had got remarried so surely he would be fine. I still think to this day that I wished my dad dead because I thought about it so much.

So May 1999 I got the phone call from my sister to say that dad had died in the night from a heart attack. He had been out during the evening at some British Legion function, drunk no doubt, so at least happy in his last night. And whilst getting ready for bed, keeled over and just died. My step-mum was there when it happened which was a) good that he didn’t just lie there dying but b) how awful for her to be in that situation, I cannot imagine it.

I was in London and my family were in Penzance, Cornwall. So they drove up to get me. I had a long wait that day. It was the week before exams so not many people were about, none of my close friends. I remember Craig, one of the lads we hung around with just hugging me as he heard me screaming down the phone at 8:30 am in the morning outside his flat. My boyfriend at the time Gareth was about and we literally spent the day waiting, just lying on his bed, in the cell like rooms of P-block flats our student accommodation, waiting. The day your dad dies is a strange day, all I can remember is feeling numb. But an overriding feeling of ‘I knew this was going to happen’.

My sister arrived to take me back to Penzance at about 4pm that afternoon. I remember nothing of the journey home, the following day or the day after that. I remember no conversations with friends, family, random people. But you know what, the exams I was just about to fail at the end of my first year, I was given a condoned pass and didn’t have to retake anything. Dad you maybe saved my degree by dying…..

Reflection

So back to current day. I reflect on the past a lot with my friend Becky. We got talking about security last time we met2-5-16 red dahlia and why security (safe job, house, money) is so important to me. Of course it struck me like a lightning bolt. Again another story for the book, but my step-mum inherited all my parent’s money. And she sold the house. My house that I had lived in for 18 years with the red dahlias in the garden and my cooler than cool attic bedroom. My ultimate security was gone at the age of 19. Not my parents dying but my base and money. So not only at the age of 19 was I an orphan but I was also homeless and penniless. An interesting theory to develop is that one.

Losing your parent is one of the most awful things ever. I know there are things that are worse….I really do. But losing your parent, your security, your guidance, your role model is truly unbearable. For me as a teenager it was the worst thing in the world. There you go I have said. I was literally the only person I knew in this situation…and it was so unfair. So unfair. But life’s not fair.

Moving on and Healing

But time does heal and how you deal with the toughest times shapes you as a person. 20 years on and May/June are tough months. I have the death anniversary of both mum and dad to deal with, plus father’s day and mums birthday. It hurts me so much to think about things they are missing in person, but not in spirit. My dad would be simply bursting with pride watching Dylan and Josh play football. And the introduction of cricket this summer, would probably make Dylan 100% perfect to him.

I am a strong willed, competitive, assertive girl who is caring, loyal and genuine. I am this way because of my up-bringing by an equally strong woman my mum and also the pain of my parents dying at such a young age. The ultimate sad experiences as a young person can turn you into the most incredible adult. So whatever you are going through you can turn it into a positive. I’ve done pretty well……

19-6-16 My Dad- Fathers DayFrederick Newman Beattie – died 27th.May 1996 aged 63yrs. Enlisted into SCLI.in February 1964. Previously served as a Royal Marine from 1951 till 1963. Had been awarded RN.GSM with clasps for Suez and the Middle East. Was posted after training at the LI Depot Shrewsbury to 1 SCLI in Berlin, by the end of 1964 he had been promoted to Cpl, saw service in Norway and Aden, he was awarded the GSM with clasp for Aden and in 1969 the LSGC Medal. He was at one stage a Recruiting NCO at the Redruth Office. He retired from the Army in 1974 as a C/Sgt.

Positive Mindset – How Rejection can be a good thing

15-6-16 Huge lilies - rejection post

Being rejected from something GOOD is actually being redirected to something BETTER

Last Thursday was one of those days. I was up at 5:30 am and got shed loads of work done before the kids got up. I have been on a mission this past few weeks to really get Mrs Mummypenny going and reach some targets, so I was emailing brands with pitches and saying hi to contacts I have made that might be able to provide me with some paid work. Rejection was not on my mind.

MMP IS going really well and I have 100% certainly that it will become a successful business but I have a worry that the money it earns is still not enough to replace my earnings from full-time work at EE. So a few weeks ago I was contacted by a friend to say there was a part-time job going as a digital marketing procurement manager at her company. Local massive company whom I have worked for before, a long time ago.

The job was perfectly suited to my skills, I know A LOT about digital marketing (google, social, display, analytics) and I am great at negotiating. After initial rejection in the application process, due to me have an accountancy qualification rather than a procurement qualification, they changed their mind and invited me in for an interview.

The Interview

The interview was good. I got on really well with the manager and job share person. It was more of a chat to be honest and it flowed really well. I got across all the points I wanted to, ask lots of clever questions, laughed about the Tesco share price (I own some shares and have lost money). We also discussed MMP and my aims with it and how it could be a conflict of interest in terms of energy, time and desire. I assured them it would not and I would reconsider some of the existing brand relationships if they were to offer me the job. There was no way I would experience rejection.

I walked out 95% certain I had got the job. This might sound over confident but when I have a gut feeling it is normally right. So I then proceeded to spend 9 days stressing about what I would do if I got the job. MMP is busy, its way more than the 20 hours per week I suggested it took me. To run it properly and grow it, its easily a 40 hour a week job. Just yesterday I worked for 8 hours around pickups, drop offs, trips to Boots for hair dye.

I told a few people, and their views were mixed. Around half said don’t do it, my energy will be split and I would not have enough time to run MMP. The other half, the more risk averse, said take the job, its guaranteed money, but just work your hours and appreciate the pay check at the end of each month.

I was torn and I hadn’t even been offered the job. I was starting to stress about summer holidays, starting a new job just before July is not sensible, as it would have cost me a fortune in childcare. I started to stress about all the events I get invited to during the day that I wouldn’t be able to go to. My Aldi work was at risk because there was a conflict of interest with the company. But then I thought about the extra £2k or so I would be earning each month from this job. And the fact that the skills in the job were so transferable to MMP.

15-6-16 Iris purple - rejection post

The Rejection

Anyways there really is no point in stressing over something you have no control over and no idea which way a decision is going to be made and yesterday I got a call from HR, to say I had been unsuccessful in my application. I was perfect for the job and the interview had gone really well, see I was right, but it was a no because of the conflict of interest between what I write about on MMP and the company.

I tried to give my view, and argue that they were wrong with this rejection, but as I was saying it in my head I was thinking, “Don’t worry, the decision has been made for you. You don’t need this job anyway”. After a couple of minutes discussion my mind clicked and I just said “You have obviously made up your mind, so nothing I say can change it, it’s your loss, Goodbye”.

So after a bit of time raging and whatsapping my close buddies, I got over it. I did a shed load of very productive work including a brilliant post for Fathers Day, including Aldi products. I ticked off at least 7 things off my to-do list and played music very loud all day to annoy the evil next door neighbours. I love a bit of Swedish House Mafia on a sunny Thursday afternoon (surrounded by some bunnies, and it ain’t fucking Easter).

Moving forward with Belief, Confidence and Joy

At 4:30pm hubby and I cracked open a bottle of Prosecco and toasted to me making £1m within the next 5 years.

15-6-16 prosecco -rejection post

I have since written a grateful list. What do you think? Its such a great idea to do it.

15-6-16 Grateful List - Rejection post

The Good and the Bad – Amazon Prime

The Cost of TV/Music Streaming

TV and music streaming is big business as is Amazon Prime. Do have a Netflix/NowTV subscription, a Spotify subscription and regularly pay for postage and packaging when you buy online? If you say yes, then you are most likely paying a shed of money per year. Netflix premium is £7.49 per month (£82.39 per year)..including first month free. The music subscription service like Deezer or Spotify is going to cost you £92.88 for Spotify (3 months at 99p, and then 9.99 per month) or £109.89 for Deezer (first month free). And maybe you spend £30 per year on postage costs?

All that adds up to £205.27 (based on Netflix, Spotify & £30 P&P). Now to me that is a lot of money…you can save a lot getting Amazon Prime instead.

Amazon prime includes Amazon video, the old Lovefilm, so TV/Film streaming on your smart TV or on the go. It also includes Amazon music, latest releases and older music, playlists and radio stations. And you also get tons of Amazon products for free next day delivery, even same day in some areas.

Amazon Prime – The Good

  • It has got to be the cost at £79 for all of the above mentioned services..its way cheaper than paying for Netflix and Spotify separately.
  • I love the next day and free postage delivery options. I have always hated paying for postage..my entire life, so this is a good bonus for me.
  • You can use it to get 20% off your nappies…if you are loyal to Pampers get them here. Cheaper than Tesco/Asda etc. Although I would recommend you go to Aldi and get the Mamia nappies. MUCH cheaper and just as good, if not better.
  • The kids will be fine with Amazon film/TV. Its got all the greats, Paddington, Frozen, Lego Movie. Everything is awesome.
  • You get free cloud storage for your photos. Handy if like me, your dropbox has expired, and refuse to pay for cloud storage.
  • You get access to lightning deals 30 minutes before non prime folk.
  • You can borrow one kindle book per month from the kindle lending library for free.

Amazon Prime – The Bad

  • Amazon music is not the best. I have had Deezer (for free when I worked at EE) but I am not paying £110 per year for music streaming. Its missing lots of artists, but if I am desperate to listen to something..I’ll go to Youtube and Vevo or at last resort will buy the album. I did buy Prince’s Greatest Hits on the day he died for £8.99. However I am often surprised to see new artists on there with their albums like Coldplay or One Direction. I suppose its whatever the record companies allow/want to promote. I am not hugely fussed by having to have access to all the music in the world so it works for me.
  • You end up spending more at Amazon. And this is the commercial model behind Amazon Prime. They can afford to offer it all to you for £79 per year as you are more likely to switch your online spend to Amazon. Lets take a look at my spend over the past year, £260 on all sorts of things that I maybe would have bought from elsewhere. Christmas pressies, football gear for boys, Prince download, a SAD lamp for £100. I don’t think this is a bad thing as Amazon is generally cheaper than other retailers. The SAD lamp I bought was £20 more at other retailers so I am happy I am getting the best deal.
  • Amazon Film, it gets boring after a while, after you have watched the stuff you wanted to watch. But you know what, it is great for the kids. Sky Movies is of course better with more recent releases included..but costs an absolute fortune.
  • When your friends find out you have prime they ask you to buy stuff to save on the postage! I have bought a lot of things for the boys football club!

So there you go..the good and the bad will mostly apply to you if you have a family and are keen on getting a good deal, so if you are interested click here and sign up..first month is free..what have you got to lose. Sign up and give it a try and see if you like it.

 

MMPx

Fathers Day Ideas for Free or Great Value

My ‘clutter’ inbox is being bombarded with emails at the moment from every person and their dog promoting their gifts for Fathers day. Jawbone particularly annoyed me with the email subject ‘Your Dad’. I love my jawbone, I wear it every day but do not send me an email like that..I replied back saying ‘He is dead’ (he is dead, he died 20 years ago, it still affects me). Please brands think about your email campaigns and how it might upset people. Jawbone emails now go to my junk folder.

I digress but the commercialisation of Fathers Day and the like is becoming bigger and bigger every year with every company jumping on the band wagon and promoting every event from #fishnchipday (last week) to Halloween on steroids and Christmas, well I think we might be heading American style levels of promotion this year. Oh today is #nationalginday this is fine and completely acceptable. I will drink gin and I will tweet it too to encourage free gin my way;-) And to be honest I am fine with Halloween as its a great excuse for a party. #enoughMMP

My view is to celebrate these days but with something maybe homemade, or a gift that your dad really wants/needs. Do not spend the earth and get him a £100 Jawbone..actually you can do if you want but click on this link and get one off Amazon and save yourself a small fortune – £35.65 and available on Amazon Prime next day delivery;-)

Pinterest Ideas for Fathers Day

So my recommendation is to have a look at my Fathers Day Pinterest Board. Pinterest really is the perfect place for crafty gift ideas. Here are a few pictures of my favourite ideas, full credit to the people who have shared them. Josh chose a few as 9-6-16 Tool Box Fathers Daywell, he is the creative one after all.

Josh has decided to make this toolbox for hubby, a brilliant idea from diyready

And I really like these ideas..I can’t seem to find the owner of the ladder card to credit as its just a image on Pinterest (do not do that peeps make sure everything you post on Pinterest links back to your website!). The mug is from iheartartsncrafts, we all know sharpie pens do not come off stuff (bedroom wall) and the sweetie letter is from b-inspiredmama. I adore the sweetie letter and am definitely going to make it with the kids. Really is so simple.

9-6-16 Ladder card Fathers Day 9-6-16 Coloured cup fathers day9-6-16 Sweetie letter Fathers Day

Buying Gifts

So I don’t have a dad to spoil on fathers day, but if he was still around I would get him some wine gums and a few bottles of guiness/real ale. Hubby tends to get a few bottles of directors in for his dad, favourite tipple always goes down well. I think it’s a bit easier to please a man. For Vinny we have got this lot of goodies from Aldi. Shhhh dont tell him.

9-6-16 Aldi Goodies Fathers Day

From left to right you have:-

1) Electric shaver. £17.99. Hubby has been going on for ages about wanting to try an electric shaver. Perfect.

2) Phonebox bird feeder £4.99. I’m having this. I bought a bird feeder including seeds about 3 weeks ago. I love having the birds (and a squirrel) flock to the garden. We have had blue tits, great tits (lots of tits;-)), wood pigeons, blackbirds, magpies, robins. And a red kite family live near by and often circle above our house, not quite made it to the garden.

3) Gents Chronograph watch £14.99. Looks really nice and WAY more expensive than the price tag, just using the word chronograph sounds posh, who knows what it means? If Vinny doesn’t like it (very fussy man) then I’ll have it.

4) Desktop darts £6.99, the boys have already nabbed this and play it every day. I insist on playing it outside on the patio where they can do the least amount of damage as possible and have been told nowhere near the astro turf. Its not recommended at all for children so only let the kids play under supervision. We love the darts in this household.

5) Football socks £4.99. An essential gift for the man who loves football and wears socks.

Disclaimer – All Aldi gifts were given to me free of charge.

A Weekend Away with the Family to Bristol

Last weekend was bank holiday weekend and most of my friends were away in glamorous locations. EE bestie in Dubai, the Knebworth girls in Benidorm and another Knebworth friend in New York, I was feeling very holiday jealous. So not wanting to be a miserable jealous person we booked up a trip to Bristol.

It was a quick 28-hour visit in the end, we arrived at 11am on the Sunday and stayed until 3pm on the Monday, given it’s a 2- 2 1/2-hour drive there we did well to actually get there for 11am! SO what can you pack in to see in this time…a lot it turns out!

We have lots of people we know in Bristol, so we tried to combine our activities with others. My niece and nephew live there, who I grew up with so more like brother and sister. My sister was visiting from Penzance as well and we had some time booked in with my friend of 28 years, Becky.

Mummy blogger friend Amy @mrsandmrstplusthree lives in Bristol so I tapped her up for some advice. And basically we did pretty much everything she said!

6-6-16 Mshed Bristol Weekend Away

MShed

We arrived in the morning to a sunny day..yippee. We met my sister at Mshed, an interactive and very children friendly museum celebrating Bristol life and its people. The boys loved the big bus, the air raid shelter and in particular the huge map of Bristol on the floor. They spent a while trying to find the 2 football grounds! This is a great way to start your Bristol trip as it gives you lots of ideas of things to do in the city if you’ve not planned it and its free..hurrah.

It’s located right next to the harbour side and has a lovely café on the ground floor. We had a little snack and the boys had ice-creams as we were having a late roast dinner lunch later. After ice-creams we went on the steam train…located right outside Mshed. We took a trip down the river side to 6-6-15 Mshed Train Bristol Weekend Away - Copy 6-6-16 Train Ride MMP Selfie Bristol Weekend Away6-6-16 Train View Bristol Weekend Away

Vauxhall bridge (I think it was) and came back again. The boys loved it…it £3 each return and free if under 7. We had a stroll around the harbour side, the boys went in the fountains fully clothed and had a lot of fun in the sun.

6-6-16 @Bristol Water - Copy

Roast Dinner with Friends

We drove over to Brislington next, one of the Bristol suburbs 10-minute drive out of town, to check out Becky & Dave’s new house and her new baby bump. Becky has been a friend since we were 11 and is preggers with her first baby. Is it very exciting! I have been saving things for Becky if I get any baby related stuff for Mrs Mummypenny, so I walked in with a few gifts. An Aldi high chair, a nappy cake containing tons of essential baby goodies that I made for YouTube, lots of nappies and some pretty stationery (I won a huge bundle of stationery from moonpig!!).

We did a quick tour of the pretty Victorian terraced house with gorgeous high ceilings and then had dinner, roast pork with all the trimmings. I failed to take a photo. But it was such a feast. Very yummy, the boys all approved. Vinny had seconds.

After dinner we went out for a walk to the nearest park. Lovely as it gave us a chance to have a proper catch up. Becky has been through everything with me, she knew my mum and dad really well and spent a lot of time at our house. She was there at both funerals, there for the tears, drunkenness, dark times and happy times. She even did the father of the bride speech at my wedding. And I have been there for her parent’s deaths, bridesmaid for wedding, a divorce, a huge career change and many happy times. We have definitely been there for each other despite always living nowhere near each other. She knows me inside out and always asks the right questions to guide me on my path with a bit more clarity and confidence.

Bristol Hotel Time

We got to the hotel, Novotel in Victoria Street at 7pmish. Not too much time for kids to bounce around in a hotel room. So I do a sneaky thing with hotel rooms, I have 3 children, but I hate the 2 room rule. Besides they are still small at 8,6 and 3. So I always book saying I have 2 children and we take a blow up bed or put all 3 in a bed together. I booked the room through Topcashback where I got 10% cashback through hotels.com on the room rate of £79…so it cost £71 after cashback. Cashback rules especially with travel bookings, click here to sign up for an account and get a free £10 Boots gift card!

So I forgot the blow-up bed! We ended up Dylan and I sharing the fold out bed, was actually comfy. Vinny, Josh and Jack the smaller ones shared the big bed…not helped by Jack lying width ways most of the night.

Now everything about this hotel is great..except the temperature. Quite a biggie. The room was too hot, and the air conditioning was too noisy. So we slept in a room too warm, which meant a very uncomfortable sleep. I complained when we checked out but was told I should have requested a fan. Hmmm not really the answer I was looking for. I doubt we’ll stay there again. Parking at hotel for 24 hours and breakfast cost an extra £26.

SS Great Britain & Boat Trip

Monday morning we enjoyed the tasty buffet breakfast, the boys definitely ate their fair share!6-6-16 Breakfast at hotel - Copy The we out early. We walked to the SS Great Britain for a fascinating walk around the big boat. I love a bit of history and my kids like boats. A great combination and Brunel built it, I went to Brunel university. A family ticket cost £37..quite pricey for a boat I thought. It had better be a good tour. It was a really great tour. You start on the deck and work your way down through the accommodation, kitchen, dining room, engine room. Its really well done particularly to keep the children amused. The last bit is a trip down into the dry dock to see the outside of the ship from underneath. We all really enjoyed it, particularly Josh the climber.

6-6-16 SS Great Britain Deck 6-6-16 SS Great Britain from river 6-6-16 Josh anchor

6-6-16 Anchor Dry Dock - Copy 6-6-16 Josh Dry Dock 6-6-16 Josh hanging on propeller

We walked out at the perfect time to go on a quick boat tour up the river around the harbour for 45 minutes before lunch. This cost is £18 for a family ticket.

6-6-16 View from boat ride 6-6-16 Josh boat6-6-16 Boat ride selfie

Lunch I won’t dwell on. We met my niece, nephew and his girlfriend for lunch. It was nice, but they would not cater for the children. Apparently children are normally ‘happy with chips and bread’. Well not mine. A child’s portion of steak and chips was ordered; we were charged full price £18 for it. The food came out in dribs and drabs. Waitress was extremely rude.

After a chat with the manager the full cost of steak was removed. I hate a bad experience like this, but it’s important to complain if you are not happy. The lunch still cost us £75, I do not recommend The Olive Shed.

After lunch we got a Mr Whippy for the kids and walked back to the hotel to collect the car. A long drive home with everyone very tired and sleeping most of the way!

Total cost of weekend, including food was £330. Not really a money saving weekend, but the boys had lots of fun and learnt stuff and we got to catch up with lots of people. It would have been much better value for money without bad service lunch;-)

Hotel £71

Parking and Breakfast £30

Petrol £30

Tesco snacks for room £15

Lunch Sunday Mshed £20

Ice-creams £6

Lunch Monday Olive Branch £75

SS Great Britain & gift shop purchase £45

Boat Trip £18

Train Ride £12

Wine for Becky & Dave £8