Friday, 30 August 2013

Chessington World of Adventures.

This is our BIG day out. For years my family have all gone to Chessington as a group, starting back when I was about 11 or 12. For various reasons it has happened more infrequently the last few years. This year we went again. It is Stephanie's first time there. She loved it, Dylan had a fantastic day. In fact everybody did. The youngest member of our group was just 8 weeks old, the oldest well let's just say in his 50's- I may get into trouble if I say anymore!!

We started the day with a MacDonald's breakfast, a very rare treat in our house! We then met up with various aunts/uncles/cousins/sisters/nieces/nephews. There were 17 of us in total.
Entrance to Chessington (and all the Merlin group theme parks) is extortionate! £43 each for me and Dylan, £35 for Stephanie. Way out of my budget at a total of £121.00. That's before anything else. However I had enough points on my nectar card to take advantage of their double up offer earlier in the month to get 2x £40 entrance vouchers for the day. Bringing down the cost of entrance for me and Dylan to £3.00 each. I also had a half price voucher from a packet of Kit Kats which I used to get Stephanie in for £17.50. So entrance fee for the three of us brought down to a much more reasonable £23.50. That's more like it!

Stephanie on the bubbleworks with my uncle, she absolutely loved this ride and soaked us all by putting her hand in the fountains the whole way round.
This I Dylan, Stephanie, me and my cousin on the Dragon falls ride. Stephanie did not like this one, it made her cry-whoops!
She went for much gentler rides after this.
We ate in one f the restaurants in the park. They used to have a fried chicken place here, which was reasonably priced so we were heading there. They have changed it to a chicken place- a kind of like Nando's but not as nice! For the three of us to eat it came to £26.00.
We went on lots of rides, taking it in turns to wait with those not big enough to go on some of them. Or taking turns in taking on those that wanted to go on but needed an adult in the instance of my heavily pregnant sister and littlest nephew. I got to spend lots of time with him yesterday as he wasn't confident to o on with many of the other adults on the rides, as he doesn't see them as often and he is super shy.
WE ended the day by a quick mooch in the gift shop, each of us chose a pen total cost £8.00. we also got some doughnuts- £3.00.
Total cost for the day £54.50, well under the original entrance fees of £121.00. I will be saving my nectar points again to fund us having this fantastic day out again next summer.

Thursday, 29 August 2013


My niece has been asking my sister for weeks to buy fish 'with heads on' for their dinner. My sister is a little squeamish about this and uncertain how to fillet a fish so while they were visiting we went to the supermarket to buy some fish. We came back with  some trouts for ours dinner that day and I bought a whole salmon as they are currently on offer. I helped the girls to take off the heads of the mackerel and the tails. Then showed them how to fillet them before we cooked them for our dinner. Once the fish were cooking the girls asked if they could look at the bones and heads we had removed. They spent time looking at these, studying the eyes and discovering that if they poked the eyes black liquid came out- gross!
While they were doing this I was showing Dylan how to fillet and portion up the salmon ready for us to freeze in portion sized pieces for future dinners. Once we had removed the head the girls asked if they could study this too. That is how these pictures came about originally posted here ;

lots of learning came out of this, the children discovered that the fish have bones, that they have a back bone which is different to ours, they have 2 eyes like us, except they are on different sides of their heads. So what many people have called 'gross' our children have learnt a lot.

Bodiam Castle.

My niece had one request while they were staying at my house; to go to a castle. We decided to take her to one of our favourite castles- Bodiam.
 As it is a National trust property it is free for me and my two as we have membership. I also do not have to pay in the car park (normally £2.)
I took in my nieces on my membership card as well, my nephew is free as he is under 5.

We had a lovely time exploring the castle and talking to people in their period costumes/ roles and learning more about castle life.

looking down from the top of the castle, at my heavily pregnant sister, who for some reason didn't want to climb up the steps! LOL
She is the black/grey dot in the centre of the picture.

 Watching the family of ducks.
Learning about the life of a baker in the castle, and discovering that they had no potatoes or tomatoes back then- let alone no chocolate!!

Learning how to sword fight.
Before learning archery

and how to use cross bows.

Brass rubbing a picture of one of Ann Boleyn, Stephanie is still fascinated by anything to do with Henry VIII.
Total cost for today, archery £3.00, crossbows £1 brass rubbing £3.50= £7.50.

Wednesday, 28 August 2013

Mote Park.

We came home from my sister's house on the Wednesday, her and my niece caught a lift on our car and came to stay with us. The Thursday was spent visiting various family members. Then Friday we went swimming in the morning then met my brother, sister, her partner and 2 children at More Park for a picnic and afternoon of fun. We walked around the park for a little letting the children chase and run around. Then decided to go on a boat ride.
Here we all are just off out onto the lake. My sister decided that at 37 weeks pregnant she would be safer watching us, my brother waited with her.
We had great fun, Dylan and Billy steered 'the swan' and managed to crash us into the weeping willow at the side! LOL
Then we took our shoes off and paddled our feet in the lake, very refreshing it was a warm day.
We finished the day off by having an ice cream before heading home.
Total spend £4 for the boat (it was £12 split between the 3 families) ice cream and drinks £8.50. total £12.50 for the day. (swimming is free as our council have under 11's swim free and Dylan and I get swimming included in our gym memberships.

Tuesday, 27 August 2013


While we were at my sister's house I asked for us to have a trip to Blackpool. This is one of the items on my Bucket list. So I am very pleased we got to do it.

The Blackpool Tower, we didn't go up as we were trying to have a budget day, it would have cost a lot for us all to go up. Maybe next time.

The tide was in when we arrived so we spent some time eating our picnic and letting the children play on the big stones.
 Once the tide went out we had a paddle and a dig on the sand.
Then we ended up in the arcade as we couldn't find any toilets. My two were pleased as I gave them 50p each and they made it last until we left. We spent over an hour in there, they have learnt which games are worth playing.

Then we went back down onto the beach and the smaller children all had a donkey ride. Stephanie loved tehm and now wants a job as a donkey ride person!

Then it was time for an ice cream before home. Well the children had ice creams, us adults had hot chocolate.
We got the train to Blackpool using our family rail card, costing  a total of £18 for me and my 2. We spent £4.00 on ice creams, £2.50 on my hot chocolate. When we arrived I realised we had forgotten our buckets and spades so spent £6 buying more, and £2 on rocks for their cousins who didn't come with us. So a total of £32.50 for our day. Oh no, I forgot the donkey ride- £35.00. Still a bargain day and another item off the bucket list :-)

Monday, 26 August 2013


We went to stay at my sisters for a few days last week, then she came to stay at mine. We have been super busy having lots of days out. I'm going to do some catch up posts to show what we have been up to. This is the first one, I may make the others scheduled posts as we are off to the New forest tomorrow for 5 nights. So they should appear while we are away, then when I am back I will post about what we do there.

On the Friday evening we arrived at my sister's house. On the Saturday both of my sisters were working (they work together in a beauty salon). So I had my niece and nephew for the day. We went to visit my Dad.

The children spent most of their time outside while my Dad and I had a good catch up.
Having a little rest as they started to get sleepy.
On the Sunday we had a big family day to the beach, I went with my two, My sister Ang and her husband and daughter came, my sister Kath, her husband and 2 of her children came, my niece who lives with my Dad came, My brother Rick and his girlfriend and her 2 children came, my brother Matt and his girlfriend, my Dad and Stepmum and her brother and 2 children came. So quite a few of us. We had a picnic and lots of fun!
This is the only picture I took as I forgot to charge my battery!
There were lots more taken by others but I don't have them.
We went to my favourite beach by my sisters house- West Kirby. The tide goes out very far there and there are some little Islands you can walk to if you want. We spent the day splashing, digging, spinning and chasing. It was great!


Friday, 23 August 2013

Enjoying the summer

Sorry we are AWOL at the moment, we went to stay with family last week, this week they are with us and we have been in and out. I don't like to spend too much time on the computer with guests. I will leave you with a few pictures of what we have been up to tide you over until Monday when I should manage a proper post :-)

Friday, 16 August 2013

Knole country house

Yesterday was my last daytime to myself; Dylan was due home after dinner. So I decided to take the time to go to a country house. The children enjoy walking and playing in the grounds of these  places, but they don't like to stop for long enough for me to read and admire the fabrics and furnishings which I really enjoy when we visit. So I went alone so that I could enjoy these at my leisure.

I chose to go to the Knole Country house as it is a place we used to go as a family when I was young, we never went in the house but used to picnic in the grounds. We used to call it 'the deer park' as there are so many deer there. It also has the added bonus of being a National trust property so I was able to enjoy it for free as part of my membership. My membership saved me £14- £4 to park and £10 to walk around the house.

It is such an impressive house.

The deer ornaments.

Currently there is a lot of restoration being done to fix the roof.

There was lots of the decoration like those on top of the gate throughout the house.

Absolutely beautiful grounds surround the house.

you can see the difference in the seasons when you look back at our visit earlier in the year.
When I got home I spent some time pottering in the garden;
I have had to empty this patch of garden, I was growing peas here, but the neighbours cat has decided it makes a great litter tray and now nothing will grow. I have removed all the compost and will have a little rethink about how to use this space and deter the cat!

I then sat and did some knitting. I have managed to finish the school shrug for Stephanie, although now the weather seems to be turning decidedly autumnal so she may not get much use out of it!


Thursday, 15 August 2013

aims old and new!

At the end of last year I set myself some aims which I wanted to achieve through this year. 

I haven't looked back at the list for a while so thought I would revisit today and see how I am getting on. next to each aim I have added in red where I am at with the aims today.

 The aims set were

  • to finish decorating/ making our home our own Finished! well the painting side. I just have a curtain to hang at the front door and some pictures to put up and then it is done. Those are things I just need to do and stop putting off. By the end of this month I WILL do them!
  • to save for the future I did begin to do this, but then I needed to buy a new car, this has been readjusted to be to pay off the finance on the car!
  • to enjoy more family fitness We are more active than we were although always improvements available on this
  • frugal- I want to make what we have go further We are achieving this, I have only been shopping when we truly need something and where possible I have sourced items to be as low cost as possible, buying reduced/in the sales etc. I have also been selling things we no longer used to make more money for new things/experiences.
  • to fix things- I have lots of things around the house that need mending/ altering that I haven't got around to doing. I have fixed all that needed fixing in the house, and have up cycled quite a few things. I will continue with this aim as and when required.
  • to finish things, I have several craft projects started 2013 is the year to finish things I have finished all projects except my cross stitch project, I find this one hard to get into but I will do it.

  • These aims have become as I hoped that they would, part of everyday life, I look to see what I can fix, or if there is another way to do things before shopping to buy new. I have recently decorated the bathroom and my bedroom using just the paint I had in the shed, I made curtains using material from the stash, I am using yarn from the stash to knit Stephanie and me cardigans. I have a home full of things, things that with a little thought and imagination can be made into the things which we need. I am pleased with the aims for the year and how they are going, they are beginning to become the norm around here.

    I keep seeing inspiring posts and lists about life aims/bucket list etc. I have decided I am going to make one there are lots of things I would like to do. If I make a list I might be inspired into achieving them, it will also serve as a reminder to me about what I can and have achieved. I am going to start a new page for the list to belong on here

    Wednesday, 14 August 2013


    I had this old chair in my allotment shed, I used it for rests when working down there, but as we have given the allotment up now I decided to make use of it at home.
    This is it half way through sanding. It has a red back and arms and blue seat. I sanded it off and gave it 2 coats of white gloss which I had leftover from giving my kitchen unit a makeover.

    And now I have a lovely white chair to sit in my white bedroom. It needs a cushion or a throw with a splash of blue and it will be perfect.
    I have also worked through my mending pile I know have 2 dresses and a skirt for me and a dress for Stephanie which have been sat for a couple of weeks waiting to be sorted out.
    This was all done yesterday, today I have been out with my in-laws for the day. We had a lovely day and I only took one picture the whole day
    The animals were all behind bars which were impossible to get decent pictures around so I gave up and just enjoyed myself instead. The best thing is I now have a years ticket to the zoo for me and Dylan. The tickets automatically upgrade to a years ticket if you buy them on the gate. A big bonus is Dylan's dad paid for his ticket so I only paid for me, £23.00. When we go back in a couple of weeks I will need to get a ticket for Stephanie but bargain, and we will use them several times in the next year- to make sure we get our moneys worth! LOL

    Tuesday, 13 August 2013

    Sewing day

    Well more of a sewing morning, yesterday.
    I decided I wanted to make a fabric basket with some material left over from the curtains and cushions I made for my new bedroom. I had a quick search online to see how others had done theirs, and decided I didn't have the materials they used so made up my own pattern with what I did have.

    I measured my material to make the sides I decided my long sides would be 35cm the short 25cm but  made the sides in one continuous strip. I needed something to make the sides stiff. I found some of the iron on stuff (that's the technical name! LOL)I used to make the curtains stiff wehre I put the eyelet rings. Perfect. so I ironed it on;

    This is what I had to use.

    I needed to do 2 strips as it wasn't wide enough.
    I then cut a piece out to be the bottom and ironed 'stiff stuff' onto that as well. I sewed the bottom to the sides, then joined the seam of the sides. and hey presto I have a box/basket


    on the shelf.
    It was really simple to make, despite the naff instructions. I will make some more, I am disappointed that I have no m ore of this material left. I also need to find the name for 'stiff stuff' as I need to buy some more, and I am not brave enough to google my name for it!
    Whilst I was sewing I made some cushion covers out of some material from the stash. These are destined to go in my reading corner at school. I just need to source some cushions to stuff them with;
    Another simple, 5 minute sew.

    Once they were done I went off and spent the day with various family members. Which was lots of fun involving hugging a tiny baby, tormenting my niece and nephew, and LOTS of laughs.