AndSoWeWent // Budapest: The Short Version

Young boy holding the Budapest travel card

Here is a super quick guide of places to explore when in Budapest. For the longer version click HERE

Eat:



Hot chocolate from New York cafe, Langos from a street vendor and Risotto from Budapest Makery
There is no shortage of good eats across the city and for all budgets

Market BDPST – burgers, tacos, beer. Affordable and fresh fast food

Lángos - a deep-fried dough with sour cream and cheese: totally delicious, rather plentiful and a bargain of €5

Budapest Makery* – Think of Hello Fresh Live and you’ve got yourself a couple of hours of fun and fab food!

SuWu coffee – Speciality coffees and a great selection of cakes and treats (also open late as an added bonus)

Cirkusz – If you love a good brunch and coffee spot this is the place. The price point is spot on


Hummus Bar – exactly what it says on the tin. Budget friendly, fresh and plentiful 

Sleep:

a small apartment with a double bed, sofa bed and small kitchenette
Our accommodation in central Budapest

Budapest Holidays Harmony Apartments are slap bang in the centre of the city, we had a 3 person apartment (1 double bed, a double sofa bed bathroom and small kitchen) for 3 nights and cost £150

See:




Buda Castle, the Fisherman’s Bastion and the stunning church of St. Matthias

Jewish Quarter – bars, food, street art galore.

Walking Tours – Free and different routes around the city every day of the week


Thermal Baths – Pack your costume and head to one of the many baths in the city. 

Repeat:

Budapest Info** – Travel cards available for 24,48,72 hours and let you use all public transport (with the exception of the airport shuttle). Also gains you access to a large number of attractions including the thermal baths.

Fisherman’s Bastion and the church of St. Matthias - Go back in the evening for a completely different experience (a lot quieter and the views are just stunning)


Young boy holding the Budapest travel card


Budapest is a fabulous and vibrant city to explore as a family (or leave the kids at home and check out all the Ruin Bars!)


*We were gifted our meal at Budapest Makery with no requisite for a review.

**Budapest Info gifted us 72hours travel in the city in exchange for our honest review. Your Budapest card not only gets you travel but entrance into the thermal baths and many museums around the city and we wouldn’t hesitate to purchase one on our return visit.






AndSoWeSaw // Rudolph at MAC


Dashing from a Softplay birthday party on a Saturday evening the boy does a Speedy costume change into his PJs and we crash into MAC with minutes to spare before Rudolph begins.

Walking into a Theatre filled with children (and adults) in their PJs makes it feel quite magical, and with our complimentary red noses we were seated and waiting for the show to begin.

Mom and Son with red noses ready to watch Rudolph
Rocking our Red Noses
We join the story in the Starry Safari Park where an alien lands with a bump in the night. This isn’t your usual Xmas affair. 

Although we quickly realise that this isn’t an alien. It is a rather lost Rudolph.

A rather lost Rudolph who doesn’t know who she is. Yes. SHE; we all know that it’s the females that lead the sleigh (the poor males lose their antlers in the winter!)

Through the guidance of Baggy (Snowy Owl and narrator of sorts), Rudolph explores the safari park trying to fit in with the other animals and finding it hard when they say she is different to them.

Rudolph is sitting with Baggy as she realises she has made it home to the North Pole
(L-R Tea Poldervaart, Hannah Bristow, Lakesha Cammock) Credit Robert Day
There are funny and tender moments throughout and everyone was drawn into the tale. And here is where I leave it, as I don’t want to spoil the ending.


Pins and Needles have bought us another Christmas show to remember and to feel all the festive joy, you’ve got until December 31st (Click HERE to grab your tickets)

MAC kindly invited us along to watch the show in exchange for our review. As ever opinions our ours (and we both loved it!)

AndSoWeSaw// Sleepyhead at MAC

Sunday mornings were made for hanging out at MAC and seeing what babies get up to when it’s bedtime.



It is no secret that I adore Little Angel Theatre Company (they made me cry with last years production 'Me') and so I was expecting great things. As ever, I was not disappointed (and neither was they boy)

Suitable for ages 2-5 (and not forgetting the grownups too) we settled down to watch Dad and Baby as they get ready for bed.

As us grownups know, it is not often that bedtime is smooth sailing and the next 40 minutes we see Baby have the most wonderful time causing mischief and having all the fun.

When a studio full of kids are belly laughing away at the silliness of Baby and a Rabbit with a suspicious French accent, you know everyone has been brought into the magic of the moment. I won’t tell you too much more as I want you to experience the delightful silliness for yourselves.

Sleepyhead runs until Sunday 2nd December so grab your tickets quickly HERE


MAC kindly invited us along to watch the show in exchange for our review. As ever opinions our ours (and we loved it!)

AndSoWeSaw// Pinocchio

What better way to kick off the festive season than heading to The Old Rep on a Saturday afternoon to watch this year’s seasonal offering of Pinocchio.


My date for the afternoon (the kid) and I took our seats and from the second the house lights dimmed and the stage lit up, my son was whisked away on a journey of the little boy who just wanted to be good. 

My memory of this particular tale is based around the Disney classic; the story of the Toy Maker who desperately wanted a son, and so created a puppet that came to life. Along Pinnochio's journey, familiar faces appeared alongside the Blue Fairy (in place of a cricket) offered up plenty of moral guidance and entertainment along the way.

The story is filled with musical numbers and light-hearted moments with both the young and older laughing away. If you want to watch something a little different from the usual panto affair, this show gets a Two Thumbs Up from the 4-year-old! And as an additional FYI (and possible spoiler alert) the kids favourite part was... 

'When the puppet got their skin' 

A familiar tale with a musical spin on it’s telling, Pinnochio is a great way to get into the season of Good Will. Along with a fab production and leading roles the supporting cast is made up with local students from Birmingham Ormiston Academy having their opportunity to tread the boards in their own fair city.

Pinocchio is on at The Old Rep until December 30th (with a relaxed performance on December 15th)

We were invited along to the press launch in exchange for our honest review. As ever our opinions (mine and the 4-year-olds) are our own.

AndSoWeWent // Budapest: The Long Version

We finally did it!

After having a small person in our lives for 4 years, it was about time we went on our first overseas trip. We settled on Budapest as it was affordable and we are not really beach people!

Before we even hit the skies we made sure we had the tech to take with us. Going abroad I was worried about rinsing my data allowance for all the 'Gram, but we didn't need to worry as Three mobile* set us up with All you Can Eat data and a very wonderful iPhone X to take on our adventures.

With a flight time of just over 2 hours away via Ryanair (after an hours delay on the tarmac!) we arrived in Budapest and ready for some family adventures! So much happened on our trip that I want to split our review into 2. This is the long version! 


Day 1

A well-deserved beer at BDST Market - Shot on iPhone X
Our boy exploring the Pop-Up park in central Budapest - Shot on iPhone X

Arriving into Budapest late in the afternoon we jump into our pre-booked airport transfer (€25) and head straight into the centre of the city. We booked a studio Apartment with Budapest Holidays Harmony Apartments and after a swift check-in and tour of our accommodation, we headed out to find food.

We quickly discovered that the city is easy to navigate and we settled on eating at Market BDPST; the boys wanted burgers (and I wanted a beer!). It was a great little spot to grab some food (burgers or Tacos are on the menu here) and for 3 burgers, fries and drinks we spent €17.


Once our bellies were satisfied and the sun was setting we continued with our walk around and came across a pop-up park, which the boy took great pleasure in exploring and climbing.


The end of our first few hours were upon us and so we began to head back. We grabbed some coffees and babycinos and popped into the Aldi next to our Apartment. I fell a little bit in love with Aldi. It is like they had a continental love child with Lidl and merged everything you love about each into one store!

Back at the apartment we logged into the free wifi and watched Netflix while the kid passed out after a very long days travel.

Day 2

Budapest Card is the key to the city - Shot on iPhone X

Breakfast was Aldi’s finest cereals and juice in order to save a few pennies. Once we were fed and clothed our first port of call was to head to Budapest Info to collect out Budapest Card**.

These cards get you travel across the city and entrance into a large number of attractions (including the thermal baths). You can purchase them for a number of days and we were very fortunate to be gifted 72 hours of travel.


Armed with our lovely travel passes we jumped onto the tram and headed down to the Danube. A walk across the Széchenyi Chain Bridge and into the Buda side of the city today was about exploring Castles and Churches. To reach them at top of a rather large hill (or mini mountain) you have a few options


Boy surviving on giant cheesy wotsits - Shot in iPhone X
Walk (free – but a lot of steps!)

Funicular, Bus or Oversized golf buggy (chargeable)

Our Budapest Card gave us the option of either the bus or golf buggy and 3 guesses which mode of transport the 4-year-old chose (what we didn’t realise was that the golf buggy went on the main roads)! Once we had reached the top, we spent the day just walking around exploring Buda Castle, the Fisherman’s Bastion and the stunning church of St. Matthias.

There was also a Frida Khalo exhibition on, but alas the child had zero interest in joining a rather long queue. Although we did witness the Horse Guard walking the grounds and also the Changing of the Guard which was quite different to our own.


As the sun was setting you see how beautiful the Pest side of the city is and we planned to return the following day in the evening.

We jumped on the bus back down to the bottom of Buda and walked down to the Liberty Bridge. As we were walking across, we noticed a large gathering of people who were all holding torches. We decided to hang around for a bit and see what was happening. The following day was a national holiday which marked the Hungarian Revolution and so there was a parade through the city. There was music, torches and a real sense of celebration and remembrance, and it was a wonderful thing to have witnessed.

Food for the day consisted of a lunchtime snack of Lángos which is a deep-fried dough with sour cream and cheese: totally delicious, rather plentiful and a bargain of €5 along with the worlds largest bag of Hungarian Wotsits.
For our evening meal, we stumbled across a lovely restaurant run by a group of friends (and we didn’t note the name and it doesn’t exist on Google!). We dined on Goulash, Paprika Chicken with butter noodles and Strudel for the princely sum of €10 each. Proper home-made comfort food and just want was needed after a day of walking and exploring.

DAY 3:

A slow start and after breakfast, we fell into the SuWu coffee. The one thing we hadn’t yet found was a decent coffee shop and this was a winner for us. With a V60, hot chocolates and babychinos all round we were fuelled to continue our exploring. We headed down to the Jewish Quarter to roam the streets some more. What we didn’t expect to stumble upon was a beautiful city park where the kids could roam free and even the dogs had their own park.

The kid ran free for nearly an hour and then it was time to head to Budapest Makery*** for a lunchtime experience. Budapest Makery is a restaurant like no other. In fact; I’d call it an experience rather than a restaurant.

As you enter the space you notice all the tables are set up like mini kitchens. You take your seat, given a tablet and then you scroll through the menu. Think of Hello Fresh: Live and that’s essentially what we had. It was so much fun (although don’t ask my fella to confirm this as he is still traumatised by all the cooking!)
You select your meal and then they bring out a tray with your ingredients chopped and ready to cook (some raw some par-cooked to save time) then you fire up the tablet and follow each step to cook your meal.

Every table was full and the vibe as fantastic, everyone enjoying the hilarity of people not following instructions and helping each other out along the way.

Our bellies full we headed over to the New York Palace for a sweet treat as a reward for our cooking. This is listed as a Must See when in the city so I assumed we would be wowed. Everyone I spoke to had raved about the cakes and hot chocolates. They were ok. At €8 a drink and €12 for a slice of cake we decided to have a drink only and seek pudding later on.

There is no mistaking the beauty of the hotel, but it felt like we were just on a conveyor belt of tourists and the price did not reflect the experience or service. Personal advice: pop your head in to see the architecture and then go and grab a cake down in the Jewish quarter.

Back to the apartment for an afternoon nap, because on our last night we wanted to go back up to the Castle to experience it by night.

It was the highlight of our trip. Head back up after about 7pm and you get to experience the beauty of Budapest by night. It felt like it was just us up there (and after about 9pm it really only the hardcore Instagrammers up there!)

We decided we were all hungry again (and cold!) and as we walked further away from the main strip we found a little hotel that was still serving food (late night dining is widely available on the Pest side of the city, but a little harder to find up in the castle hills). The Balthazar Boutique Hotel was a great little find, a family run boutique hotel with a simple menu that met all of our needs. This was our most expensive meal of the trip (coming in at £70), but still not unreasonable for the food we ate and the service we received.

Full again and ready to head back we walked down the steps of the Fishermans Bastion. There was a solo violinist playing and we were the only ones around to listen to him. Right there and then a memory was made and our evening ended on a perfect note (no pun intended!)
A 15-minute bus ride and back to the apartment and straight into bed for a well-deserved night’s sleep.

Day 4

Hometime

We didn’t need to head to the airport until 6pm and so we had a final few hours to roam.

After dropping our luggage off at the main office, we headed off for breakfast. We had been recommended to visit Cirkusz and this time the recommendation paid off. Great coffee, great breakfast options and excellent value for money (no pictures, we were too busy eating!).

At the boy's request, we jumped onto the tram and off to another tourist hotspot the Great Market Hall. More beautiful architecture, but just too busy to enjoy the stalls and surroundings.

Another tram ride and back over to Buda this time to walk around the lower half and in a search for coffee we found the most delightful children's bookshop called Pagony . We spent an hour and a half in here! A café with coffee and cakes to keep us happy and a shop where the boy could explore and us not worry about anything being broken!

I am forever grateful that we don’t speak Hungarian as I would have spent all of our money in here. We did grab a couple of card games and also some notebooks for the boy, because you always need stationary in your life.

And that was pretty much our time done. Instead of paying €25 for an airport transfer we decided to jump on the bus. This is not included in the Budapest Card, but it cost us €7 for the three of us and took 45 mins.


A word to the wise. Budapest departures lounge is grim for food choices. I would recommend you take snacks and purchase your water from Duty Free (€1) rather than the kiosks (€3!)
We didn’t really plan out our adventure so we have so much more to explore when we return next. Which we certainly will.

Concerned about data usage? During our 4 days, I used 3GB of data. This included using maps to navigate the city, updating IG throughout the day, alongside the usual email and other Social checking. Budapest falls into the All You Can Eat data zone with Three and so there were no additional charges for using our phone overseas. I'd recommend grabbing a SIM if your network doesn't cover you abroad.

For our 4 days in the city, we spent £300 for food, drink and a little bit of shopping for 2 adults and 1 child. Our flights and apartment cost £345 which I thought was a steal.


*Three mobile loaned us an iPhone X for our trip which included 10GB of All You Can Eat data.
**Budapest Info gifted us 72hours travel in the city in exchange for our honest review. Your Budapest card not only gets you travel, but entrance into the thermal baths and many museums around the city and we wouldn’t hesitate to purchase one on our return visit.

***We were gifted our meal at Budapest Makery with no requisite for a review.

Family Photos // Tesco Photo Review

I love photos.
I love going into peoples homes and seeing walls of pictures. 
You get to see the past and present and all those adventures people have been on.

So when Tesco Photo offered the chance to have a canvas printed I jumped at the opportunity (and if you haven’t guessed already they have kindly gifted us a canvas print in exchange for this review) 

The irony is at the moment we have no photos on the walls; or shelves for that matter. We are about to begin a massive renovation which has been ten years in the waiting.

2 years ago my partner captured one of my favourites images. Our boy stood on his Grumpa’s paddleboard in Devon. 

In this image is one of my favourite memories. A very last minute and late night trip to the beach. My dad had one home after a full day out and said the surf was perfect and so the FunBus (my dads VW Caravelle) was packed up with haste and to Westward Ho! we went.


Photo of our son stood on his Grumpa's Paddleboard at Westward Ho! 

In the 2 years since we just never got round to printing it, that picture has been living in my mind and my phone ever since it was taken. it’s always just seemed like a lot of bother (and we are always the eternal procrastinators!)

So back to Tesco Photo. They offer a next day Collect in Store service for no additional charge (which is always a bonus in my eyes). You head to the website and select your product; choosing from picture books, canvas' or even a cushion cover. Then you upload your image and check that everything looks good before you head to pay. As with other photo printing companies, it’s easy to navigate and you have plenty of opportunity to make sure you are happy with your final version before you confirm and pay.

12 hours later and I received the text to say our canvas was ready to collect….we dashed over (because we are too impatient) and collect our print. The quality of the finish is great (even down to the folding of the canvas at the back) and the boy is over the moon he has a giant picture of him at the beach. 

For now, the canvas remains under bubble wrap (once we snapped this quick picture of course) as we demolish the house, but I can assure you it will be the first picture we hang once all the chaos is over. 


Tesco Photo kindly gifted us the canvas for an honest review of their site. As ever all words and opinions are all mine

AndSoWeSaw// Mischief And Mystery In Moomin Valley

I love the Moomins
The kid loves the Moomins

So last Saturday we headed to MAC to watch Mischief and Mystery in Moomin Valley (produced by Get Lost & Found)

Getting Lost in Moomin Valley 
We headed upstairs to one of the performance spaces and whilst we were waiting the boy spotted Snufkin hiding behind some cases.

‘Why is he hiding?’
‘I think he’s waiting for all of us to go in a sit down’
‘Oh’

As we went into the room we were greeted by Stuff & Nonsense; our storytellers for the performance. The children were encouraged to sit on the floor so they could get closer to the magic. I too had to sit on the floor as the boy decided that he wanted some company (I was so happy to get the old pins and needles in my toes for the next 40 minutes or perhaps not!)

The show started without anyone even realising. The children were asked if they had bought their imaginations as it was very important, which led into a very important discussion around what ‘magic’ sounded like.

Stuff & Nonsense helped to tell the tale of the changing of the seasons and how Moomintroll feels when his best friend Snufkin goes away for the winter.

With appearances from Little My (ever the pessimist) and Thingummy and Bob causing mischief along the way the story is told through a mix of 2d and 3d puppetry along with the children using their imaginations as each season changed.



The thing that I love about children’s performances is the interaction of them. Instead of being told to sit and be quiet, they are encouraged to get involved and share their ideas.

Mischief and Mystery in Moomin Valley continues to tour until the end of the year, so do check it out if they come your way.

With Moomins returning to our screens next year I cannot wait to sit and watch it as a family.


MAC kindly offered us tickets to the performance to review the show. As ever our views are entirely our own. 

AndSoWe // Summer Holiday Week 2 Round Up


Hello week 2 and another mixed bag.

With no plans of time away I sent a desperate email to HR to ask how much annual leave I had remaining.
Success! 5 hidden days I had somehow forgotten about. So whilst we survive the next 3 weeks, I am hopeful the last week before school will be one to remember.

Anyway, let’s look at the success rates of week 2

Monday: Same as last week (and the same as next!) Boy gets to spend some quality time with his dad as it’s a set day off from work. This week they watched films and ate all the spaghetti hoops!
Success rate: 8/10

Tuesday: I had an all staff meeting at work, with no set time for it to finish. Frantic checking of phones and crossed fingers. Hoping that I could dash back home so the fella wouldn’t be late for work.
Made it with 2 mins to spare!
As it was payday the boy and I decided to head out for tea and we dined on delicious pasta and the garlic bread of dreams!
Success rating: 8/10






Wednesday: Stuck on the M6. Late for child handover. Not bad for the first time in 10 days (I had assumed this would have already happened at least twice by now!)
The afternoon was a trip to one of our local libraries to get involved in Heathlands Festival. 3 of the neighbouring libraries have come together to put on 4 weeks of free activities for all ages. It was such a lovely afternoon getting messy and seeking out new books
Boy made a Gargoyle (called Clocky) and got to create a story. Clocky can stop time. He stops the hands moving as he does not like the ticking sound (a little bit dark for me, I do love his imagination though)

Success rate: 7/10 (would have been higher if I wasn’t late!)

Thursday: Handover a success and the boy and I stayed at home watching Inside Out (again) and was also introduced to The Nightmare Before Christmas (yes he’s 4 and yes he loved it!)
Success rate: 8/10

Friday: With the ability to complete my admin tasks during any time slot (all hail #flexappeal), I got up super early to get them done so I could spend more of the day with the boy. We headed into town for a long overdue trip on the tram. We had our first visit to Saints Kitchen where he ate a slice of toast and jam that was bigger than his head (and I had a delicious coffee!)
A flying visit to see Dippy (4th time now), and time spent in the children’s activity room where he quickly made friends with another boy (Johan you were an absolute delight and a gent) and they happily played together for 20mins while me (and Johan’s grandma) got to sit and chill
Burgers for tea
Cake before home
Success rate: 10/10

Saturday: Swimming lessons completed, we all headed into town for some birthday shopping for the sister in law. Successful shopping was celebrated with coffee and brunch at Waylands Yard.
Took the boy down to Eastside to play in the water fountains where he was living his best life until he wanted to join in with some older kids playing football. It was his first ever experience of being told ‘no’ by other kids and it absolutely broke his heart (head here to read more about it)
Sucess rate: 4/10 (we were doing so well until the park)






Sunday: Family admin day. Oven cleaning trips to the tip and sweaty naps in the car. All rounded off with Beauty and the Beast and leftover Chilli.
Success rate: 7/10 (no kid cares about cleaning the oven)
The start of week 3 sees the boy heading off to WaterWorld, so the rest of the week will just be downhill from Tuesday, so I’d just expect updates about the kid moaning

Good Luck for week 3
May the odds be forever in your favour!


Instagram // When Influencers fall short

When Influencers Fall Short - Head in the Basket

I joined Instagram because I wanted somewhere to document our chaos.
Really quickly I found myself in an echo chamber. Following squares, because they were ‘famous’.
I was bored
Same old photos
Different names
And everyone had the same bloody rug

Oh what a lovely bandwagon

In real life I had started to widen my circle, learning more about my city and stepping outside of my comfortable bubble.
Changing up my squares to reflect my life, following people who speak to me, who are passionate for change (across the board)

I don’t shout about it on my Instagram, because quite frankly it doesn’t mean anything.
I see the changes in my real life
However, more recently there seems to be a growing trend for people to declare:

‘I’m inclusive’
‘I’ve struggled’
‘I’m just like you’

Everyone has their story.
Some stories are hard to read.
Some perspectives are hard to understand.
And some completely miss the mark.

Numerous people have posted numerous things declaring all of the above and rather than being drowned in a sea of admiration they have managed to alienate their followers with a single hashtag.
What is even more frustrating and disheartening to see is that when people are challenged on their perspective, rather than open up the forum to debate, discuss and learn they go into shut down mode.

Ignore
Block
Delete

If you hit delete then it never happened. You haven’t offended people and you can just carry on as before.
Occasionally you may see a fleeting story with a half-baked apology, but mostly it just disappears into the Instagram trenches.
What baffles me, as much as the original post, is that grown ass (mostly) women are behaving in a manner that is incomprehensible in the comments section.

Judgey, one might say.

We talk about the sisterhood.
How It takes a village.
But.
People can be pretty damn nasty at times.
And if your opinion doesn’t fit?

Ignore
Block
Delete

There is absolutely a space to discuss and learn, but when someone types hurtful comments
Well.
It hurts.
If your child wrote something hurtful, what would you say?

Jeez, you don’t even need to be a parent to know being cruel is not ok.
Talk, listen, be educated. Have open and frank conversations
Challenge an opinion, but be respectful

We are living in one very messy and confused society right now and we could all do with opening our eyes and ears a little wider.

AndSoWeWatch // Top 5 Netflix Faves

Oh Netflix I love you so


I am most excellent at binge watching so I thought I’d share some of my latest views in case you are ever stuck and need to waste away your evenings and weekends. I’m going to stick with 5 for now, otherwise, I may just end up listing the whole catalogue (such is my binge habit!)

Oh Look It's my Netflix Log In Screen! 


I started watching this after I had finished consuming ALL OF THE GILMORE GIRLS and was feeling a little lost. This is an over the top telenovela about Jane, her family and how they cope with some very far-fetched plot lines. This show pokes fun at itself and you can’t help but fall in love with Rogelio De La Vega who is everything you want in a character.  

My latest consumed product and should be mandatory viewing for any parent. You will identify with at least one character and may also feel a little empathy for your ever-suffering partner. An Australian show following the stresses of parenthood and how a bunch of strangers are thrown together at a new mums group.

Period pieces are not my bag. However, this is sublime. I have learnt more about the British monarchy watching this show than I ever did at school. And Matt Smith is perfection as Prince Philip.

Where do we really go when we die?
Ted Danson, is everything you would ever want from a character. No other reason needed. I refuse to give anything away about this show, you just need to watch it

Orange is the New Black
I have just finished season 6 and as ever am left wanting more. Following the inmates of Litchfield Penitentiary, we get to see the ever shifting dynamics as the characters navigate life on the inside. Each character is rich in story and a personal favourite of mine is Lori Petty's role as Lolly (you only have to wait until the end of season 2 for her to appear).

What are your favourites? 
I think I may have to put together a top 5 part 2! 

AndSoWeWore// Fashion Round Up

This year has seen me finally get into my groove when it comes to feeling comfortable in my choice of clothes.

I have worn:

Paperbag trousers
Jumpsuits
Dungarees
Sandals
And heaven forbid…..leggings!

If you know me in real life, I have a problem with wearing leggings as an actual clothing item for the bottom half. Even more so if your top does not cover your bottom.
I digress

As someone who is classed as plus sized, I have finally discovered (mostly through the joys of Instagram) that I can wear whatever makes me happy.

So with that in mind, I thought I’d share some of my finds.

Fast Fashion is easy to get sucked into and so I am making far more considered purchases these days. Striving to buy smarter and my wardrobe is a mixture of budget and investment pieces and all are only purchased when older clothes have been passed on to a new owner.  

Pink Clove
Pink Clove
Monki


Monki – The cut of dreams along with fabulous sales to boot. This brand has helped me embrace my love of colour again.

PinkClove – A brand new to me*; budget-friendly and focusing in plus size clothing, I had high expectations on the cuts and was not disappointed.  For the first time in a long time I have been able to wear a wrap dress that covers my top half with no need for extra safety pins or vest tops to save some modesty.

Asos – With their Klarna payment options I have been able to pick some items that I wouldn’t have tried in the past which led me back to the joys of wide legged trousers

People – To be able to know the people behind the business that make your clothes is epic. Christian makes clothes that fit and flatter for every shape and size. And Allison is a tour de force in all things Style (the capital S is deliberate). Even better, 99% of all the designs come with those all-important pockets! Their pieces are investments and are staples in my wardrobe 

Never a fashion blogger I shall be, but I am always happy to share new finds and things that make me happy in my skin.

What are your go-to brands?

Any independents I need to check out?



*PinkClove were very generous and gifted me the featured pieces in exchange for an honest review. If I didn't like them, I would have sent them back!  

AndSoWe// How to Survive the Summer Holidays

There are so many posts around how to plan for the summer, I thought I’d try and put together a weekly update of how we are surviving. Like many families the summer holidays are tough. We don’t have family close by, and it has taken us 12 months to get out of the pit of Nursey Debt and so we are trying our best to wing it.

We are only able to do this with the most understanding of employers and a 4.5year old who goes with the flow (most days)

So here we go. 
Week 1…

Monday: Easy win: spent the day in the car driving back from Devon
Success rate 10/10

Tuesday: I leave at the arse crack of dawn to get in a days work so I I can tap in at 1pm when the fella has to go to work I can take over childcare duties.
Handover a success, kid requests a trip to town so we dine on 99p baguettes and cash in the coffee loyalty cards. Minor meltdown on where to grab babychinos, but all forgiven after spending an hour in TK Maxx looking at ALL the Tupperware
Success rate 9/10

 


Wednesday: Arse crack of dawn again, handover success, afternoon at home doing fun-filled life admin things
Success rate 8/10
Fun rate 2/10

Thursday: See Tues/ Weds handover. An afternoon spent seeing school friend and fixing the world while kids pick blackberries in the garden
Success rate 9/10

Friday: Another successful handover. Afternoon at home painting and just shooting the breeze. Then early evening we headed to our favourite establishment for food galore in the shape of Bretzels, Bratwurst and Spaetzle
Success rate 10/10



Saturday: NOPE. The first day as a full family unit since Monday and we all got on each other's nerves. I shouted. I went for a 2-hour nap and then I went out for a coffee whilst they watched Star Wars
Success rate 3/10








Sunday: Coffees, shopping and birthday parties galore. The boy even gave away his balloon to another kid when their balloon went pop
Heart Melted
Success rate 10/10

We crash into week 2 with no solid plans for the week so wish us luck!
How do you surviving?
Any advice/ tips will be greatly received!

Bargain Hunters// Latest Deals

Way back when, when CheekiMummy was alive and kicking I had the absolute pleasure of meeting Tom from Latest Deals just as it was launching to the Great British Public (head here for a cheesy flashback of our Facebook Live).

Fast forward 2 years and Latest Deals is the go-to website for absolute bargains across the internet.

From mega price glitches to secret codes, Latest Deals is the place to head to if you love a bargain (I know I certainly do)

The 2 biggest deals I managed to snap up were super price glitches. The first one was a mega Burt's Bees bargain; I spent the grand total of £5 to receive over £55 of Burt’s Bees products along with an Amazon beauty box filled with samples of top named products. Now never the beauty blogger I will be, but you can’t turn your nose up at a deal like that. Plus, there were so many products not only was I able to treat myself, I was able to gift out the rest to friends and family (hooray for bonus birthday presents!)

My 2nd win was pretty impressive: an Oculus VR headset. Retailing at £100 and we got our hands on one for free. And all thanks for having the notifications turned on for Facebook. If we had been just 5 minutes later the glitch would have been repaired and we would have missed out.

The key to snapping up the deals is to follow the Facebook page. Mega glitches go quickly so you have to be on the ball, and it saves you trawling the web to find your own.

Tom and the team pride themselves that all the deals are found by people that use the site. There are no tie-ins to big brands, just the best deals out there so that we can save ourselves as much time and money as possible. Users of the site are actively encouraged to get involved and share their finds amongst the community. What is even better is that you are rewarded via their points system (points are earnt as people click through and purchase any offer that you post). And what do points make?

Amazon Vouchers! To go and spend on even more deals

From VR headsets to Beauty Subscription Boxes, Latest Deals is a personal favourite to mooch around and find some absolute steals.
What has been your best online find?

Oh, and if anyone has a mega price glitch for a new vacuum then send it my way. I’ve got Amazon vouchers waiting to be spent! 

AndSoWeWent// GERONIMOFEST 2018

When I first told the other half that we were going to spend a weekend at a children’s festival I thought he might leave us!

.
Who on earth would want to do such a thing?
Anyway he had a few months to come around to the idea and before you knew it, we were in the car and heading off to GeronimoFest set within the glorious Arley Hall in Cheshire
Over the years I have been to many a festival and was prepared for a 3-mile walk to the campsite from the car, muddy fields, terrible toilets and a diet of soggy chips for the next 3 days
Well, I couldn’t have been more wrong if I tried.

Over the 3 days, we did so much so I’m going to split things down to make it all a little more digestible.

The Camping
An executive decision was made early on that we were going to splash out for the Glamping. After looking at the number of options on offer we went with The Canvas Co*. Not only were we able to arrive and find our Bell Tent pitched; we had inflatable beds, clean sheets and as a bonus offer for booking with them we received 2 free passes to Bathing Under The Sky (more on that later).
After spending too many years in tents that were too small, we had plenty of space in the tent and also we were able to sneak in a phone charge or 2, so we could carry on taking all the pictures.
With a designated BBQ area, hot showers and the cleanest portaloos I ever have seen; the whole campsite had such a chilled vibe and seeing children of all ages running around and enjoying the space it really was a sight to see.
There was the option of paying to charge your phones if needed, a mini supermarket for those forgotten items (loo roll and biscuits!) along with the most lovely people from The Farmers Wife serving all the food you could need from breakfast till supper time: all locally sourced produce along with a kids menu so you weren’t wasting money on larger portions of food that wouldn’t be eaten.  
The biggest unexpected bonus of camping was the face that Dorset Cereals had set up a breakfast tent. And so for the 3 mornings, we were all treated to #BreakfastOnTheSlow with all the cereal, yoghurt, preserves and juice you would ever need. Along with Yoga for the kids and grown-ups, live acoustic sessions and the daily papers. It really was a most wonderful way to start off the day.

Tents, Transport and Breakfast Fun

The Food
After being spoilt with options in the camping fields, it was refreshing to see a number of food options available in the main areas. Long gone are the terrible grey burgers and here to stay are freshly cooked pizzas, fresh fruit smoothies, gin cocktails and vegan nacho bowls.
Whilst there was enough to choose from, it would have been nice to see some children’s portions on offer in the main event space. I appreciate vendors have to make money, but perhaps parents would be more inclined to purchase food that wouldn’t be wasted.
I also think some serious money could have been made would perhaps have been a speciality coffee kiosk. At other events, I have seen the guy with the proper coffee machine have a far bigger queue than the beer tent, and as everyone knows I am always in need an of decent, well made fancy coffee.
Moving on…

The Entertainment
Included in the price of camping for 3 days, all campers were given unlimited access to the fun fair. And on Friday night the main festival site was open to just those few of us that had dared the earlier rain to set up for the next 2 days of mayhem.
For 2 hours we just wandered around, got our bearings and went on as many rides as possible. This was the first time the boy has really been to the fun fair and it was quickly apparent he is a bit of a thrill seeker, with the Big Wheel, Bumpy Cars (he has renamed them!) and the Helta Skelter a firm favourite.
Saturday and Sunday bring the main acts with Cook and Line, Justin Fletcher, Mr Bloom and Andy and the Odd Socks being the main draws over the weekend, with Ben Cajee as the compare for Saturday and Alex Winters on the Sunday. An absolute personal highlight was being called out by Ben when he was on stage for managing to tweet him when the field had very little 4G signal!
Our family favourite was Cook and Line……they had all the audience engaged, were genuinely funny and looked like they were having fun too. The biggest crowd (of course) was for Justin, but unlucky for us, there was a bit of aggravation between some of the grownups which dulled the mood a little for some; everyone is asked to sit down so that all the children can see no matter where you are, and some people took umbrage that their darlings were not deemed to be more important as every other child there.
Personally, not a fan of Justin, and after about 10 minutes, the kid decided he wasn’t interested either and so we headed off to find other things to try out.
One of our memory making moments for us was watching the live music around 8pm on Saturday evening and the boy just got lost in the sounds. He found his groove and was dancing and jiving and running around along with a few other kids who were all partying way past any usual bedtime routine.
Along with the funfair, camping and the artists were an array of activities for a wide range of ages. Including:
Archery
Rock Climbing
Military Assault Course
Tumble Tots
Pauline Quirk Stage Academy
Animal shows
Big Fish Little Fish Family Rave
Circus performances (there were 2 Big Tops to choose from)
Woodland Tribe (where children were actively encouraged to pick up a saw and hammer and help to build a variety of things in the forest)
Storytelling sessions
Medieval games

And so so much more


We were there for 3 days and still didn’t do everything there was on offer but the highlight for us as grown-ups was Bathing Under The Sky
Never did I think in the middle of a festival that myself and the other half would have the chance to drop the kid off at the children’s Creche tent and head off for 2 hours of bliss

Side note; the kid still hasn’t forgiven us for leaving him even though he had fun and made a friend!.

So off we went and sat in traditional wood-burning saunas at a toasty 36 degrees (I had a constant battle with the hosts to not make any hotter!), chatted with other parents about the joys of rabid children and kids clubs (there were 6 to a tub, and we all had one common ground of conversation), got to  jump/ wince into the ‘cool’ pool, melt even more in the sauna and all topped off with a refreshing cold shower.

It was perfection

We deliberately booked our slot for Sunday evening, knowing that we would probably all need a break (the child included) and it was the perfect way to start winding down.



This post is already long enough and I think you get the idea that we thoroughly enjoyed our experience. We were beyond lucky with the weather (we were on thunder watch for 24 hours, but it never arrived) and the fella even said he’d consider doing it again. So for me, that counts as a success.

The question now is, where to next?




*The Canvas Co kindly offered us a 20% discount on our Bell Tent in exchange for an honest review

*Our weekend passes to GeronimoFest were gifted to us in exchange for a donation to their chosen charity which is Marie Curie; a charity close to our hearts as they looked after my mother when she was in Palliative Care