Thursday, 10 August 2017

Why We Love Egypt

13 years ago my (then) boyfriend and I were strolling along a promenade overlooking the beautiful Red Sea, when he plopped himself down on one knee and using my full Sunday name, asked me to marry him! Obviously I said yes and the rest is history.

That was our first holiday to Egypt, a country we fell in love with instantly, the hotel was beautiful the tour guides were awesome, passionate, proud and knowledgeable. We crammed so much into that week but we both knew we needed to go back!

Egypt is an easy place to love, it's steeped in history, the climate is amazing all year round so you really can jet off anytime.

When planning our wedding we knew that we would return to Egypt for our honeymoon and we found an amazing multi centre  trip with Hayes and Jarvis taking in the sights of Cairo, Luxor and then having a relaxed week in Sham el Sheikh. Our honeymoon was everything it should have been, we say breathtakingly sights, made friends, learned so much and were spoiled rotten everywher.

We've returned twice since, both times with children in tow and we've always found the hotels amazing, the service industry is treated like a vocation in Egypt unlike the UK and employees go out of their way to provide you with an unforgettable holiday, children are fussed over and there is so much to see and do, and more history than I could ever learn about in a million visits!

Plus cocktails in a swim up pool sway the balance !
We were sad to hear on our last trip that TUI were not running trips to the Pyramids. So we talked about how in our next visit we would take the kids to Cairo so they could see the things we did on our honeymoon.

Another area we have heard brilliant things about is Hurghada but sadly we've never managed to visit, after our last holiday in 2014 we decided that for our next visit we would definitely plan a Hurghada Holiday

Now is a great time to travel to Hurghada, its on the FCO safe to travel list and you can pick up some great bargains in some beautiful hotels, plus there's loads to do, we've already planned a trip to sand city so we can see the amazing  sculptures there.

and a day shopping in the old town to find some gorgeous leather goods.

It's even possible to get a low cost internal flight to Cairo so we can show the kids the pyramids and we would love to stay in the Hyatt there (to re live our honeymoon) of course a trip to The Hard Rock Cafe is now a family tradition and then.

We could fly back to Hurghada to chill out and teach the kids to snorkell and hopefully now they are all old enough to be trusted on a boat we can finally go on a dolphin spotting tour to see dolphins in their natural environment

I love planning new trips, and reliving past holiday faves!  Have you been to Hurghada before ? I'd love to hear your must see recommendations.

I have been compensated for this post

Friday, 4 August 2017

Muddy Fingers Teapot Making Workshop at The Customs House

Just recently I discovered that The Customs House Gallery in South Shields run a range of workshops and classes. There are drawing and craft classes to suit all tastes. With workshops like Fascinator making , Creative fabric accessories and Make Your Own Teapot.

I genuinely thought all my dreams had come true when I read that last workshop title! I mean its no secret that I'm a big fan of tea, and tea sets so this seemed like the perfect treat for my 40th Birthday , I know I know I look so young pahahhaha.

Roping in a pal we booked our tickets and as giddy as teenagers we tootled off to be creative (and left the monkeys with Daddy)

The workshop was run by Marv (Marvelous Marv) one half of the partnership who own Muddy Fingers Pottery. He did a quick demo of how the teapot was to be made and I'll be honest he made it look so easy.... then he informed us that teapots are actually the hardest things you can make!

All of our materials and tools had been set out and we quickly set to work following our instructions, there were masses of stamps, cutters, rollers and pattern makers to choose from and I think most of my time was spent planning a theme, my partner in pottery however wasted no time in choosing a zombie/skull theme for her.

With my late mother in laws tea set, inherited last year,  firmly in my mind I decided to make a pot to match and went for delicate florals.

Now then I have a confession, I decided to take my swanky new (to me) camera along and took some great snaps but didn't check to see if I had the cable to remove the pictures to my pc so I'm afraid that for now you have only a few mobile snaps. Although truthfully I was so consumed by the workshop I forgot to take many pictures.

Marv was an amazing workshop leader, positive, encouraging and helpful all the way through and I loved hearing about the work Muddy Fingers Pottery do, they've just returned from the craft village at Glastonbury and they also make crockery by hand for hotels around the world! They really are very diverse. They are a friendly bunch too, when I'd tagged then on facebook telling my pals I had booked onto the course for my birthday Muddy Fingrers had liked my status and I thought nothing more of it until I arrived at the workshop and they had provided cake to help me celebrate!!

At the end of the workshop the teapots were carefully taken back to the Hebburn pottery where they will be fired and glazed and fired again (I think) and they will be returned to us in a few weeks

I can't wait to show you the finished product.

If you'd like to know more about Muddy Fingers or book a workshop to make your own masterpiece you can check them out on Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and their website.

You should also definitely check out the amazing work of The Customs House and The Customs House Gallery

Wednesday, 26 July 2017

Puppy Surprise

We were recently asked to review Puppy Surprise from Flair
My termite loves cats and dogs so I thought this would be a lovely 'surprise for her.Puppy Surprise is aimed at ages3 to 6 years.With an rrp of £27.99 they aren't an everyday purchase but would make a great birthday gift.

So what's the idea then...
Surprise, Surprise! Puppy Surprise features a soft and huggable mummy dog with a surprise number of puppies in her litter. Will there be three, four, or even five? Children can keep their puppies safe in the Mummy dog's pouch. Each pet comes with a sparkly dog collar and has brushable hair and tail. 

Series 8  of Puppy surprise has just launched The newest range includes four new puppies called Eliza, Lexi, Chloe and Stacey. (below)


We received 3 pink puppies with our doggy  (Cali) and they have been named carrot, broccoli and pinky! One of the puppies makes cute (for a child anyway) puppy whimpers and all of the puppies can be stored in Cali's pouch, which gives the effect to any adult watching that Cali is having a C-section several times an hour!!!

Termite as predicted loved the toy and I guess that's what matters the most. I found the whole thing a little strange an underwhelming but I am an adult and therefore its not aimed at me right? Termite plays happily hiding the puppies and making up puppy stories so it has triggered her imagination and role play skills. The dog is of nice quality too.

You can find out more and purchase from Flair website

WWe were sent this toy in exchange for a review. All opinions are our own

Saturday, 15 July 2017

5 Reasons The North East is THE Best Place to live + Amazon Fire 7 Giveaway

1- The Mix 

Coast, Country, City?  We've got it all, and you don't need to go far to escape wherever you are get a change of scene and renew your spirit
Image may contain: sky, cloud and outdoor
Courtesy of Here Come The Hoopers
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courtesy My Boys Club

 The north east is the best of everything, coast, countryside and city living on your doorstep! I love that it is a small city with great transport links to get to everywhere. I am forever recommending us as more than just a party city Helen from Nellys Cupcakes

2 The Beautiful Coast

With a coastline stretching from the top of Northumberland to the edge of Cumbria you will be spoiled for choice. Our beaches have won national awards and have been mentioned by almost everyone I spoke to when researching this list ...

I love living in the North East because you have access to a fantastic unspoilt coastline, Newcastle is a vibrant and compact city and we are spoilt for choice when it comes to restaurants and places to take the kids plus we have places like Kielder and Hadrian's Wall on our doorstep - people travel across the world to come and have a peek and we are so lucky to have gems like this on our doorstep. Oh and the people are canny too - the NE has a real sense of community I think (Sam from North East Family Fun )

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Tynemouth Priory from South Shields Beach
Katie Jane Online

3 Community Spirit 

I've lived in the North East all my life and there is nowt like local folk to pull together in times of need, when my Dad (a miner) was on strike for months and months I remember neighbours bringing us food and helping us out, just recently during the awful Manchester Terrorist Attack a local family were stuck down there, safe in their hotel but terrified, a local taxi driver drove the hundreds of miles in the wee small hours to bring them home, and charged nothing! We may be made fun of for our aversion to coats and love of beer (a total stereo type by the way) but we' share our chips, or a cab anyway and always have a friendly hello. A friendlier bunch you will not find anywhere

'The history and the people are fantastic in the North East. I've travelled around the world and there's something magnetic about our region. The castles, stunning countryside and tales of places like Hadrian's Wall make it one of a kind.' 

4 It's Cheap

No seriously that's a good thing, you'll find our cost of living lower than your prices down South and lets talk houses!  With some of the cheapest house prices in the country and North East Exclusive mortgages on offer, you will get more for your money and a better deal all round. For example this 4 bed detached in essex will set you back a cool £1.8m or you can move 'Up North' and get this 4 bed detached for a snip at £330,000 yes folks less than a 5th of the price and just as nice!

It's reasonably priced so we can afford a house whereas if we lived in most other parts of the country we couldn't. I love how accessible it is to beaches, countryside, city - everything is on the doorstep. Our particular area (Blaydon) has lots of great schools too so it's good to have so many options. I think it really is the best place to bring up kids. 
Caroline from Sprog on The Tyne

5 Whats On Offer 
More like whats not on offer!Want the history of England  in a live show? Ok lets do Kynren. 80s, 90s and 00's pop stars providing free open air summer concerts? You got it. Top class food and drinks? Take your pick.
We have shopping galore, history a plenty, visitor attractions and art gallery's that will leave you feeling uplifted, so much scenery and beautiful architecture that we've had more Hollywood blockbusters being filmed here than I can recount but lets name drop Harry Potter, Transformers and Avengers just off the top of my head! We have more to do than days in the year and I defy anyone to be bored in our fair North East

I moved away 15 years ago, way before kids.
Its only now I realise how much there is for kids (despite having been a kid there myself!)
I see what people are doing and there seems much more to do than round here. I'm in Berkshire 

Plus the prices up there are fab!
 (Lorna on Facebook )

I live in an awesome part of the wold and I'd recommend it to anyone as would most anyone I know as you can see from the comments. To celebrate our awesome North East Newcatle Building Society have very kindly donated a brilliant Amazon 7 as a competition prize, simply fill in the raflecopter and we will chose an winner from the correct entries

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Friday, 7 July 2017

MOKURU The Next Big Fidget Toy

Stop the bis, move over fidget spinners MOKURU is the next big fidget toy. Well actually its pleasantly compact but you are all gonna love it!

"This handheld wooden toy was originally designed to test an individual’s balance and focus - now this simple design is testing the dexterity of fast fingered flippers everywhere. Crafted out of beech wood into an eye catching cool design, players can flip tip and spin one MOKURU or more.
Small enough to fit in a pocket or a purse, MOKURU is the go anywhere toy for all ages, a new game for kids to play in the playground, and for big kids to play in the bar, at a desk, or  to be played against others in competition. Players can refine their techniques until they become a MOKURU master. Fidget spinners are so over. MOKURU is the new black or, as the Japanese say,  Genbu. Also available in green (Matcha), orange, (Kirin) white (Byakko), red (Suzaku), blue (Seiryu)  and yellow (Inazuma)!"

This is how it should look ....

This is how we look trying to master the basic steps

Come back to our YouTube soon to see us when we become MOKURU Masters Though

We love how frustratingly brilliantly addictive this is and we've giggled, sighed, cheered and booed so much while we've all been trying to master even the most basic flip. Its so much fun, so portable and transportable its great for holidays or days out and I guarantee grown ups and children will love it equally!

I love that its simply designed and has no parts to break or lose unlike our figet spinners which lasted less than a day!

Id love to know what you think, will you be trying MOKURU? have you tried it already?

Monday, 26 June 2017

Slimming World Quick and Easy Creamy Pasta

This Slimming world quick and easy creamy pasta recipe is so easy to makeand is super tasty PLUS its almost syn free, has plenty of speed foods and is really filling

Ingredients (serves 4)

  • 1 tub tomato and herb Quark
  • 500g pasta
  • 1 Pepper de-seeded and chopped
  • 1 onion chopped
  • 10 cherry tomatoes chopped
  • 1/2 tin or 140g frozen sweetcorn 
  • 1 chicken stock cube
  • 1 dessert spoon of grated parmesan
  • Chilli Powder
  • Garlic Powder
  • Salt and pepper

  • Bring a pan of water to the boil and add the stock cube, pasta, pepper and onion and simmer for 10 minutes

  • Take out 2 serving spoons of the pasta water and keep to one side

  • Add a teaspoon of garlic powder and a half teaspoon of chilli powder to the reserved pasta water and stir well

  • Add the sweetcorn and tomatoes to the simmering pasta and cook for a further 5 minutes, then drain well

  • Remove the pan from heat and retrn the drained pasta and veg to the pan
  • Pour in the reserved pasta water and mix in the tub of quark and one dessert spoon of parmesan cheese
  • Season with salt and pepper
  • Stir well
  • Serve

Let me know when you try this yourself, I'd love to hear what you think.

Thursday, 22 June 2017

Happy 7th Birthday Golden Child

Oh my Golden Boy happy happy birthday, last year I wrote about how the years are going too quickly (as I do every year) and I feel like I wrote it only yesterday.

What a fun packed year we have had with so many activities and days out, holidays and adventures

You have remained the funny cheeky chap who wins hearts wherever we go and my boy you melt my heart whenever I look at you. You make me giggle with your perfect comic timing and your funny funny facial expressions, you can always make me feel good with one of your all encompassing hugs and I love how much you adore your sisters and Daddy

We've had a bumpy school year and there have been many tears from both of us and I know school can seem imposing but your bravery and strength have carried you through. 

 I still know that you could rule the world so long as you knew Daddy or I were right behind you, soon you won't need us giving you that security you will know you are capable of anything and then the world will be your lobster. For now I'm happy to hug you tighter and hold your hand whenever you need it, and I shall do that forever and for as long as you let me.

You are my crazy dude, my handsome kind, generous and empathatic boy always wanting to make people feel good and always with a strong sense of what is right and just, one day you will be changing this world for good (and to us of course you already do) fighting for what is right, or perhaps your love of problem solving, lego build and logic will set you down an engineers path like Daddy but whatever you do this world is better for having you in it. We love you more than all the grains of sand on the beach and all the salt in the sea

Don't ever change your gentle ways my little Golden Child

Thursday, 1 June 2017

Education Quizzes

Don't worry it's not another SATS rant, I'm actually talking positively today about Education Quizzes, but not in the formal sense.

Peanut and The Golden Child get a lot of homework, a fair bit of which doesn't make sense to me! I know it's been a long time since I was in school but teaching  happens  very differently now so I'm often at a loss as to how to help them, especially Peanut with her key stage 2 work.
I  recently read about online education quizzes and had a bit of a light bulb moment.

The site has many sections each containing teacher written quizzes, we especially loved the KS2 education quizzes which really helped Peanut and I understand how to work through some of her trickier work by going through questions online together and getting answers straight away so we knew that we were on the right track

Education quizzes is a subscription scheme costing £9.99 per month with no obligation or minimum subscription length

Although the subscription cost of £9.99 may be prohibitive for some parents I like the fact that you can dip in and out when you need so if you want only one month you simply cancel your subscription and pick up later if you need to or you can have as long as you like on a rolling subscription , better still schools can sign up and subscribe for pupils  from only £2 per pupil per YEAR! I think this would be a great way to support parents and children out side of school.

Now you all know I'm against formal testing so while I see the benefit of this subscription in preparing for SATS that's not the biggest appeal for me. I'm more excited that I have a wealth of teacher created worksheets at my finger tips, so when we pack up for our family adventure and take time out of school I can test MYSELF to make sure I'm not doing a disservice to the kids' education while home educating. Alongside that there are Spanish quizzes which means I have a jump start on our family goal of learning Spanish on our adventure!

What do you think about this scheme? would it be something you could see benefit in? 

Monday, 22 May 2017

First-Time Buyer Information and Giveaway From Newcastle Building Society

I'm so happy to be able to be working with Newcastle Building Society and helping them spread the word about important fist time buyer information.

When i bought my first house, almost 19 years ago! I paid the princely sum of £19000! Looking back I can see how lucky I was in more ways than one. Not only did I only have to find 5% deposit but i somehow managed to find an awesome mortgage advisor who kept me calm during the ups and downs of house finding and buying.

Now I dont envy anyone of any age trying to get on the property ladder, my step daughter for instance is doing awesomely well in her own hairdressing business but as she works for herself many mortgage lenders are asking for extortionate deposits and up to 5 years of accounts so she is stuck paying pricey rental charges instead of investing in her own property.

Thankfully Newcastle Building Society are one of those company's who just get whats important in these situations.

Low deposits from 5%
Friendly helpful staff
Individual analysis for self employed applicants , requiring only 1 year of accounts or an SA302 form
Great linkable products like ISA's that give you cash back
Fabulous rates of interest
Really clear information

They are running two first time buyer events in the North East in June

1st June at Cobalt business park (lots of parking and really easy to get to)

and 15 June at Pleased to Meet You which is right in the city centre so really easy to hop off the metro after work.

There will be loads of information available and refreshents too (priorities right?) with lots of opportunity for you to pick the brains of the best advisors Newcastle Building society has to offer. Spaces are booking fast and are limited so to book your FREE space  asap email

Because they are geet canny, and they know what the important bits are when you first buy a house. Newcastle have put together this awesome giveaway including

A new house hamper, £50 Voucher for Next, for some nice new homeware accessories, £50 Voucher for Sainsburys for those import first meals (or some celebratory champers!) and a £50 for Wilkinsons for all the practical bits and pieces.

To be in with a chance of winning this awesome prize worth over £200 just enter via the raffle copter below and a winner will be randomly chosen from the correct entry on 16th June 
a Rafflecopter giveaway

T and Cs no coash alternative, winner must accept prize within 7 days or it will be re drawn, decision is final, open to UK residents only.

Monday, 17 April 2017

Kazoops New Episodes on Cbeebies

We are very excited about Kazoops returning to Cbeebies If you've seen Kazoops already you are probably singing the theme in your head, if not then here's a quick run down...

Monty Kazoops, the little boy with a vivid imagination and a loyal pet pig, is back with brand new animated adventures in Kazoops, transmitting daily on CBeebies from Monday 17th April. 

 Monty Kazoop is a spirited boy of six, whose best friend is a pig called Jimmy Jones. In each episode Monty confronts a preconception about the grown-up world and sets out to challenge it, embarking on a wild imaginary adventure with Jimmy that offers them a fresh perspective.
 In each episode Monty and Jimmy use their imaginations to find ways to look differently at the world around them.  For after all, who says the world works the way grown ups think it should? Things can always be different if you just imagine...

Kazoops returns to Cbeebies today at 4.20pm and we've had a sneak preview of the first episode which is all about the power of day dreaming! The kids loved watching this and all three of them (ages 8,6 and 3) enjoyed the episode and are looking forward to the rest of the series. I love the music that goes with the shows and I think this series may be even more colourful than the last!

Don't forget to tune in today and let us know what you think.