Now don’t get me wrong, flowers and chocolate are a lovely sentiment, but a real treat for mum this Mother’s Day would be something that isn’t perishable and instead she can use it time and time again. Here’s my list of top 10 gift suggestions for Mother’s Day that are both beautiful and practical as well as something she can keep long-term.
1) For the mum who loves to travel, ………
…….. this suitcase from River Island is a win! Wether it’s a long weekend away or frequent flying, this suitcase is perfect. It is strong, durable and beautiful too and it is available in this white design or black as well as beige. It has 4 multi-directional wheels making it easy to push or pull as it glides alongside you and as well as the extendable pull handle, it also has a grab handle at the top for easier lifting. The suitcase even has a handy front pocket too.
……… the Donna May London lay-flat makeup bag is a total game-changer to help her with her morning routine. By quickly and easily loosening the drawstring, the makeup bag opens up into a flat, full-circle exposing all makeup in one go. This means no more rummaging for the right item and the makeup bag acts as a protective surface for the dressing table too. These makeup bags are currently available in 14 different styles and sizes.
…….. the Bombaby jewellery case is a particularly great gift idea as it is a gorgeous, but practical way to store jewellery and / or hair accessories, wether that is at home or whilst travelling. Bombaby is perfect for those with bold, vibrant and fun styles and this jewellery case is no different with its bright, tiger print and blue tassel zip pull. It also has bright pink striped lining and an internal elasticated pocket too. This jewellery case has been handmade in Jaipur and my favourite detail is the handle at the top, giving it a multi-purpose as a day bag or even a snack bag too!
…….. the Cricut Joy machine is an essential! Wether it’s for creating last-minute costumes for school or personalising end-of-school gifts for teachers, this little machine is a huge help, but also gives the crafty mum the right tool for getting stuck in to a new project too. This machine can cut a variety of materials within minutes, according to mum’s own designs.
……… what’s more fun than a new biscuit-shaped handbag?! This Jammie Dodger style bag from Yoshi makes any outfit instantly more fun and is a perfect way for mum to show off her more playful side. This is a crossover style bag with an adjustable strap and a zipped inner pocket too. It is part of the biscuit collection which includes bourbon biscuit and custard cream style bags too, making Yoshi a great place to shop for a thoughtful gift to match mum’s personality.
…….. this backpack from Fable England is a beautiful daily essential. It has a delicate toile print that features elegant floral bouquets, trailing vines and is dotted with dragonflies, bees and butterflies in a classic palette of tonal blues. The backpack is large enough to double up as a changing bag for the day, making it practical too. It has a zipped front pocket as well as 2 inner pockets. It has a vintage charm to it with the faux buckle detail at the front.
7) For the mum who enjoys long, summer days out, ………
……… a good quality picnic blanket big enough for the whole family is a perfect gift. This Tartan Blanket Co recycled wool picnic blanket is beautiful and luxurious and will definitely withstand the test of time and many family adventures because of its amazing quality and water resistant feature. It is a super soft and comfortable picnic blanket and you can add personalisation to Tartan Blanket Co picnic blankets through embroidery to make it extra special.
……… you can’t go wrong with an Oodie! These soft, fluffy and wearable blankets are the ultimate necessity for mums who love to spend evenings at home with a box set or a movie. Oodies are available in lots of fun designs and they even have some matching mini ones too for the kids! I think the new Wonder Woman design is especially nice for Mother’s Day.
…….. Fable England have a stunning range of hair accessories. They have scrunchies, oversized bows, headbands and clips in a variety of beautiful and delicate designs. Each hair accessory has a whimsical and vintage charm and adds the perfect touch of elegance to an outfit, wether worn for day or night.
……. the Sodastream Art is a great gift idea. This new machine will allow mum to craft her own handmade sparkly water-based drinks from the convenience of being at home. It’s so quick and easy to do: simply fill the included bottle with tap water, pop it into the machine and then pull down the lever as many times as required for the preferred fizz (e.g. 3 times for standard fizz or 5 times for strong fizz). The bottle can then be taken along on days out or emptied into a glass to enjoy at home. 1 soda steam can save up to thousands of single use plastic bottles, making it a perfect gift for eco-conscious mums too.
Inside you will find some of the best and newest toys and products on the market, perfect for your Christmas shopping this year. You will be sure to find something suitable for the whole family, with gift suggestions suitable for babies, toddlers, young children, mum, dad and even a section of ideas for a whole family gift!
We hope you will find it helpful and it will give you lots of inspiration for your Christmas shopping over the next month!
Please find all links for the items featured underneath the guide x
Back in January I made a New Year’s Resolution to “make more sustainable choices” and throughout the year there have been many simple ways that I have managed to stick to this commitment. I am keen to share these easy changes with you so that you can consider making these more eco-friendly choices too.
Here are 5 easy ways you can live more sustainably:
Opt for plastic free alternatives
Buy vintage furniture instead of new
Choose slow fashion brands instead of fast fashion
Rehome, fix or upcycle old clothes
Switch to reusable products; face wipes, wet wipes, period pants
1) Opt for plastic free alternatives
Fortunately, the knowledge of the impact of plastic waste on our planet has become more widespread over recent years and many people are looking for alternative options and ditching the single use plastic. I have recently learned that another place we can all make a more eco friendly choice is with our oral hygiene products. DenTek for example has a new eco range of interdental brushes that are made from Birch Wood. This is a sustainable material that creates less waste and uses less energy in the manufacturing process – it’s even more eco friendly than the most common alternative material bamboo! Birch trees are climate-positive as they work to reduce additional carbon dioxide from the atmosphere so DenTek have also made a commitment to plant more new trees than they use. As well as this, DenTek’s Eco Cross Flosser, Triple Clean and Triple Clean floss pick products are manufactured from a bio-resin made from sugar cane. Making the switch to use this renewable material compared to plastic creation reduces carbon emissions by up to 80% – crazy! To care for your teeth and the planet at the same time, buy DenTek products from Boots, Amazon, Lloyds Pharmacy, Sainsbury’s, Waitrose, Ocado, Superdrug, Weldricks Pharmacy and through the DenTek website.
2) Buy vintage furniture instead of new
As well as being more sustainable for obvious reasons, buying secondhand furniture is more fun and a great way to give your home a more unique style. I personally love to think of the history and stories behind vintage and preloved furniture. When shopping for your vintage furniture, look locally such as in dedicated furniture charity shops or local auction houses in order to keep mileage down too.
3) Choose slow fashion brands instead of fast fashion
Now’s the time to ditch fast fashion brands that produce cheap and poor quality clothing that will only last for one season. Instead invest in slow fashion brands such as Frugi and Lindex where clothing is designed to not follow trends and instead they are stylish for many years, but will also last for longer – this is especially important for children’s clothing. Kids can grow so fast (too fast if you ask their parents!), so choosing clever clothing that grows with them is much more sustainable. Look out for adjustable waistbands, roll-up and down cuffs, adjustable straps, 2 sets of poppers or buttons etc. and always opt for GOTS certified organic cotton instead of alternative materials.
4) Rehome, fix or upcycle old clothes
Did you know…. An estimated €140 million worth of clothing ends up in landfills each year with less than 1% being recycled into new products. That means that 99% of all textile production goes to waste! These startling facts mean that it’s more important than ever to do our bit to extend the life of our clothing wether that is by re-homing them, upcycling them in to something else or mending them when they are broken. I personally love using repair patches to mend clothing, especially that of my children, as they are quick and easy to use and cute too. Frugi’s new repair patches are cleverly made from post-consumer recycled plastic bottles and they have a cotton backing, meaning that you can remove them and re-use them again and again as children outgrow their mended clothes.
5) Switch to reusable products; face wipes, wet wipes, period pants etc
Making small switches to reusable products can be an easy habit to get in to. There are now many sustainable brands offering products such as reusable face wipes and wet wipes. Some fashion brands have also introduced new lines of period pants. Lindex is one of these – their new “Female Engineering” range includes a variety of period pants in different styles, sizes and colours and promises you up to 10 hours leakproof absorbency. Replacing traditional period protection with these reusable pants is not only more sustainable, but also more comfortable and better for your body too.
Hello you lovely lot! As you probably know, we live in the beautiful city of Bristol and although we travel around a lot and adventure in various places around the UK, there really is no place like home when it comes to fab family days out this summer! So, we have a few weeks left of the summer holidays and if you’re running out of ideas for how to spend that time with the kids, check out our suggestions below. We know that long lists of places to go and things to do can be quite overwhelming with the pressure of entertaining our kids so we have picked just our top 10 favourite suggestions which will be a fun day out for the whole family. Also make sure you scroll to the bottom to read about Visit Bristol’s hashtag challenge and how you could win some fabulous prizes!
1) Bristol Zoo’s Big Summer Send-Off
There are so many reasons to visit Bristol Zoo this summer, but none as strong as the fact that after 186 years of being open, sadly the zoo will shut its doors in Clifton for good on 3rd September. This is your last chance to visit the site and reminisce about your fondest memories from the zoo.
Bristol Zoo are pulling out all the stops to go out with a bang! You can meet a giant gorilla called Wilder and her baby Monty-Alan. Together they are the magnificent centrepiece for the zoo’s send-off celebrations. They are made out of wood donated by Westonbirt Arboretum and entertain visitors with music, movement and maybe even a little water spraying! Alongside this you are invited to share your fondest memories of visits to the zoo by writing them on strips of ribbon and tying them to the wall of memories. Of course you can also explore the zoo as usual, cool off in the splash area, dine in the restaurant, take to the treetops with ZooRopia, play in the adventure playground, get lost in the maze, wander through the butterfly house and say a farewell to the animals.
2) Avon Valley Adventure & Wildlife Park
This is the family day out this summer that just keeps on giving. From pig races to dinosaur safaris, you are not short of fun activities to do at Avon Valley. There is so much going on to keep the whole family entertained.
The park is open 10am-5pm every day with a full programme of events wether it’s a weekday or the weekend, including an awesome foam party at 4pm. Here are other activities you can join in with:
Small animal cuddles, raptor encounters. Meerkat talks, stage shows, pig racing, lawn games, barn owl talks, pony grooming, dinosaur meet and roam, pig playtime, soft play, crazy golf, go-carting, climbing wall, miniature railway rides and even a dance off!
3) SS Great Britain
If you’re looking for a brilliant family day out that also makes you fall in love with our city and it’s history that little bit more, SS Great Britain is perfect! This magnificent ship has lots to offer visitors of all ages.
SS Great Britain transports their visitors to the life of a Victorian traveller in the 1850s through the tour around the ship, original features, staged rooms and antique props. To add to this for the summer, visitors can now transport their tastebuds back in time too with the Dishes Of Discovery activity. This is free with admission and it is your chance to taste the world with some of the samples of exciting dishes and historic recipes from Mumbai, Cape Town and Crimea – where the ship would have sailed to.
For the more adventurous visitors, there is a thrilling activity called Go Aloft! where visitors can don a harness and helmet and climb up the ship’s original rigging to the crow’s nest. It’s a brilliant experience which not only offers an insight into the hard work of the sailors at sea (without harnesses!), but also great views of the harbourside around the ship.
Your tickets include 1 year of unlimited returns.
Dishes Of Discovery ends on 4th September.
Go Aloft! is £10 per person and will take 20-30 mins depending on the speed of individuals – this is an ongoing activity throughout the year.
Opening hours of SS Great Britain are 10am-6pm, Monday-Sunday.
4) Bon Voyage at Bristol Aquarium
The aquarium is always a great way to spend a few hours because there’s always something different to see on every visit. This summer, the main foyer has been transformed into a port terminal hub and the deli cafe has become the departure lounge for their “Bon Voyage” event. Visitors are given their own passport as they enter which can be stamped as they join in with talks and activities to explore the world’s oceans. It’s a great way to interact with the marine life in the giant tanks and understand them better.
This is especially fun for the kids to search for the animal postcards and tick them off in their passports, take part in a postcard colouring competition, and visit all of the extra activities throughout the day.
Opening hours have been extended from 10am until 6pm every day in the Summer to allow for plenty of time for extra exploring!
All additional activities are included with admission.
Ends on 4th September.
5) Summer Of Rockets at Aerospace Bristol
This summer is the Summer Of Rockets at Aerospace Bristol! There are daily rocket-themed activities where visitors can decorate tiles to contribute to the decoration of a huge rocket, attend Spotlight Talks to learn about rockets, launch outdoor water rockets to try to reach the leader board at the firing range and of course visitors can see real rockets on display too.
Aerospace is also home to the last Concorde to fly so it offers visitors a unique opportunity to not only see a real Concorde up close, but climb on board too! It’s a magnificent piece of engineering to experience and the museum itself is incredibly educational with lots of interactive stations. There is also a trail that children can take part in and stamp their cards with different aircraft images as they walk around and learn about them.
Outside there is a sweet playground in the shape of an aircraft and helicopter as well as an undercover seating area and there is a cafe on site too selling hot and cold food – including ice creams!
Admission tickets for Aerospace allow you unlimited returns for a year after purchase.
The Summer Of Rockets event ends on 2nd September.
Aerospace Bristol is open 10am-4:30pm 7 days a week during the holidays (closed on Mondays from 3rd September).
6) Elephant Parade at Noah’s Ark Zoo Farm
Just when you think Noah’s Ark Zoo Farm can’t get any more Ele-fantastic than it already is, they go and add an elephant sculpture parade for summer! That’s right, when you visit the zoo before the end of August you will get to see a herd of 26 hand-painted decorative elephant sculptures on display around the site. This fun trail comes with a picture checklist that children can tick off as they discover each sculpture, earning themselves a fun sticker too! It’s a brilliant trail that combines art, conservation, education and sustainability and adds even more elephant fun to an already great day out at Noah’s Ark.
Noah’s Ark Zoo Farm has lots of real elephants to visit too who are always a favourite with the visitors. Other brilliant animals at the farm include lions, giraffes, rhinos, zebra, giant tortoises, camels, gibbons, lemurs, meerkats, bears and so many more. As well as that, there are also some brilliant playgrounds around the park which include a zip line, trampolines and the infamous elephant “butt slide”! There are talks on throughout the day and you can also get up close with the giant tortoises as an animal encounter option (additional charge).
On site there is also a restaurant, soft play area and indoor play centre too.
The Elephant Parade trail ends on 31st August and is included with admission.
The site is open 10:30am-5pm 7 days a week and includes bank holidays.
7) Wake The Tiger
Wake The Tiger is a brand new attraction that has arrived in Bristol this summer and it’s one to add to that summer holidays bucket list!
What is it? Well, that’s a great question haha! In a nutshell – Wake The Tiger is a fantastical, interactive and immersive art experience which is an edgy alternative to an art gallery. Through a magical portal, visitors are transported to the magical realms of Meridia. There are 27 unique artistic rooms to explore which ignite the imagination of both children and adults. There are secrets to discover and mystical things to interact with making for an unforgettable experience.
Wake The Tiger is brought to us by the team who have been creating Boomtown Fair for the past 10 years and the creators are so pleased to have established this more permanent Amazement Park in our city of Bristol.
It’s open to visitors of all ages and although creepy in some places, even the smallest children adjust to the new world quickly as their intrigue and wonder gets the better of them!
During August, Wake the Tiger is open 10am-10pm 7 days a week, last entry is 8:30pm. It is recommended to book your tickets in advance.
8) The Beach at The Mall, Cribbs Causeway
The Summer Beach is back this year and it’s free! The pop-up beach is the perfect place to relax and for the children to cool off in the heat with the golden sand, palm trees and water play fountains. There is an ice cream van on site with delicious cold treats available.
The beach is open all summer long until early September: Monday – Friday: 9am – 6pm, Saturday: 9am – 5.30pm and Sunday: 10.30am – 5pm.
The beach is located at the front of the centre, near the garden.
9) Hoo-Ha! Festival
The Hoo-Ha! Festival is free and taking place at Bristol Beacon 17-19th August. It will be a brilliant three daysof music, dancing and activities for little ones and their families to get involved with.
For kids looking to get crafty, workshops run by Let’s Make Art and Aardman Animations will spark their creative sides with a range of artistic activities.
Attendees can go on an out-of-this-world adventure by travelling across the solar system inside the Explorer Dome.
A range of quieter activities will also be running throughout the three days, including an illustration workshop by Lucie Sheridan with her Live Art Booth, drawing “Rubbish Portraits” of her visitors.
There will also be storytelling sessions run by independent harbourside bookshop. The main stage on the lower ground floor will become a lively hub of activity, with Disco Shed raising the roof and getting bodies moving to the groove. There will be a host of scientific activities for children, including learning how to make their own scribbling robot using motors and switches, experimenting with sounds in a Noisy Toys workshop and controlling digital music.
10) Play In The Bay sessions at The Wave
The Wave is an inland surf destination where visitors are invited to surf, eat, drink and relax. People of all ages, backgrounds and abilities can experience the joy of surfing and its many physical and mental health benefits. But it’s not just about surfing. It’s about getting back to nature, improving health and well-being, connecting with other people, enjoying great food and drink, having a great day out and having a load of fun in the process!
Play In The Bay sessions are a great opportunity for children to play in smaller waves, splash around and have fun in the wavepool. No surfboards are allowed in the Bay area during Play in the Bay, but children are very welcome to take a bodyboard to this session. Water Aids for children, including arm bands are also permitted, but other inflatable toys are not.
Wetsuit hire is included in the session price for children aged 6+.
Sessions last for 1 hour with a 10 minute briefing before the session starts.
1 adult per child aged 8 and under must attend too.
Session timings are variable so please check the website for this and book in advance.
Don’t forget to share your best photos and reels from your fab family days out in Bristol this summer on Instagram with the hashtag #SummerInBristol!
The Visit Bristol team will select a picture or reel every day as the post of the day and once a week, there will be a poll on Visit Bristol’s Instagram stories for people to vote for their favourite entry of the week to win a prize!
Prizes include tickets to Wake The Tiger, £100 Love Bristol shopping voucher, experiences at The Wave, animal encounters at Noah’s Ark and many more.
Don’t miss out on the chance of winning and make sure you use the hashtag #SummerInBristol…… good luck!
Are you shopping for a gift for your Mum for Mother’s Day this weekend? or perhaps your Grandmother? or maybe you’re even clueless about what you would like to receive as a Mother’s Day gift and would like some ideas? Either way, there is bound to be something in our gift guide to catch your eye for this year!
We know that all mums are different and so our Mother’s Day Gift Guide has been separated in to pages for specific interests and personalities:
For Mum, The Baker
For The Adventurous Mum
For The Nature-Loving Mum
For The Crafty Mum
For The Mum Who Deserves A Treat
Whatever page you need, the gift suggestions have been carefully selected to ensure you give a thoughtful, meaningful and much appreciated gift this year.
As so many of you are interested in how I edit and fix my photos, I thought I’d write this blog post for you in the hope that it will be helpful! I’ll share the apps I use and a brief description of how / which tools within the apps that I found good for fixing different problems with my photos. Some of the apps are free, but for some there is a charge to be able to use certain tools.
Please not that I am by no means some sort of photo editing expert or guru haha. Content creation and photo editing is just a huge passion of mine and a hobby I really love so I am just sharing what I have learned through trial and error. I have not attended any photography / editing courses etc.
I hope you will find the information useful and helps you to fix some of your photos too. Please do let me know if you found it helpful and don’t be afraid to drop me a message have you have more questions.
With love, Holly x
I mostly use the app Airbrush for one reason and that’s it’s “eraser” tool. It’s a tool that helps you remove unwanted people or items from your photos, such as people in the background. It can be quite tricky to get used to at first, but with a bit of practice you’ll be amazed at the results and be able to save lots of photos that you may have written off. Unfortunately you have to pay to use this tool, but for me it’s been a game changer. I use it to remove people from the background, remove mud off shoes or food off clothes and I also use it to remove creases in the background. It is very clever and will replace what you erase with what it thinks is underneath, based on the background around that section. My advice is to use it to erase little bits at a time rather than trying to erase a whole person at once.
I use PhotoRoom in 2 ways: to make the background (or foreground) blurry or to overlay 2 images.
Blurry background: When you select a photo to upload, PhotoRoom will automatically cut out what it thinks is the subject in that photo. You can then replace the background with one of their many templates or change your original background by editing how blurry it is, the colours, shadows etc. Sometimes the app won’t pick out your subject correctly, but you can do this manually yourself if there are other bits in the image you don’t want blurry for example. You do this by pressing “select subject” and use the paintbrush or eraser tools to choose which parts you want as your subject in the photo (not blurry). Once you’re happy with that, click on the background to adjust that. You can adjust how blurry it is by dragging the adjustment up and down the bar or you can even change the type of blurry to motion, pixel etc.
Overlaying images: sometimes when editing photos I’m happy with the colours in the background, but would like a different edit on the subject. In that case I will save the 2 edited versions of the photo that I like, upload the preferred subject one to PhotoRoom and then replace the background with the other edited photo I saved. This is particularly useful if you like to use presets, but don’t like how the preset looks on a certain part of your photo.
PhotoRoom is free to use, but it will save with a watermark in the bottom corner. You can either crop this out of your final image in camera roll or use a different app (Airbrush / Snapseed) to remove the text.
Lightroom is my main photo editing app and I use it more than any other apps. It allows you to edit the usual bits in photos that need adjusting such as brightness, shadows, clarity, temperature, vibrancy etc. However my favourite reason for using it is because it lets you edit colours separately. For example if I want to brighten the photo, but want the greens to stay dark, I can do this. Just press “colour”, “mix”, and then tap the green circle – you can then adjust the hue, saturation and the luminance of the greens only. You can do this for all colours. By adjusting the hue you can even change the tone of colours; making reds more pink or yellows more green etc.
People also like to use Lightroom because you can buy and download presets on to there. A preset is a pre-set photo edit which will give you the same edit to all your photos at the touch of the button. Particularly useful if you like all your images to blend in and look the same with the same colours and tones etc as it means you don’t have to edit all the aspects 1 by 1 each time.
What I will say though is that Lightroom quickly takes up a lot of storage on a phone, especially if used often.
I don’t use Picsart very often, but it’s super useful if there are obstacles in the background that are too big to be erased. This is because it has an “add photo” tool which lets you add a photo on top of another one. You can also use an eraser to remove parts of the top photo you don’t need.
For example, in the image below, the man on the bicycle was too big for me to remove with Airbrush’s eraser tool. The app just didn’t have enough of the background to work with. So I screenshot the part of the background I needed from another photo and used Picsart to place that on top of the one I wanted to save, therefore placing it on top of the man on the bike.
Picsart have lots of fun filters and editing tools too, my favourite is the “colour replace” one. Go to “fx”, then “colors”, then “color replace” and you can totally change the colour of something in your photo. For example, if I’m wearing a blue dress, but I want it to be pink, this tool would be useful for that. It will edit all the blue in the photo and make it all pink, but you can use the eraser to change all the other bits back to blue except for the dress (or whatever it is you want to change!)
I don’t used Snapseed very much anymore, but it is a great app for just getting in to photo editing. It has a “healing” tool which works in a similar way as Airbrush’s “eraser” to remove things from the background. It’s not as affective or clever, but it does work, especially on smaller details that need erasing – and it’s free!
Now and then I will open up Snapseed to adjust the size of my background by using the “expand” tool as this will cleverly stretch your background tiny bit at a time so it fits in a grid post better or something. The only other time I used Snapseed nowadays is if I want to quickly edit the brightness in one section only of a photo. I use the “selective” tool then press on the colour / area I want to adjust. It will say B in a circle (meaning brightness) and you can adjust this by swiping across the screen to turn brightness up or down. If you swipe up the screen it will change to C (contrast), S (saturation) and S (structure) too and let’s you edit those in the same way. Very quick way to fix small areas.
I hope this information is useful for you and you are now able to save some photos that you love. Please do let me know in a comment if you found it helpful and don’t hesitate to get in touch if you have any otherquestions. X
Hi everyone and welcome to our Christmas gift guide for 2021! These gift suggestions come from a wide variety of big and small businesses and have been chosen to fit in with different budgets. We hope you love what we have selected and that the gift guide provides you with lots of inspiration for your Christmas shopping this year.
Please scroll below the gift guide for direct links to the items if you’d like to order online.
1. Plan your shows before you arrive and before activity booking is open. You can see in advance via the app which shows are on at what time. Write down a list of ones you want to attend and when and as soon as you get the email saying booking is open, book them up! This will save time trying to figure out what you can fit in on what days and avoid potentially missing out on fully booked activities.
2. Book your swimming sessions and shows via the “plan my day” link in the email instead of the app. The app is glitchy and unreliable and often says it can’t load activities even when they’re available for booking on the website link instead.
3. Check availability for paid for activities like football, archery and pottery painting daily in the week before your stay as new spaces are gradually released.
4. If you are a single parent and will be taking a pushchair, ring in advance to request a ground floor apartment. Otherwise you may find yourself placed on a second floor room with no lift.
5. locate your room when you arrive and check that it’s clean and ready before unpacking the car. Unfortunately after lockdown Butlins seem to still be figuring out how many cleaning staff they need and how long the rooms take to clean, resulting in families left standing outside their rooms with all their stuff in the rain as the rooms weren’t ready on time. It’s best to double check it’s ready before offloading everything from the car.
6. If the above happens to you: complain! If you give customer services a call they will want to try and resolve it for you. They will offer you a voucher as a goodwill gesture to go and get yourself some drinks etc whilst you wait for your room to be ready.
7. Grab a luggage trolley from around your accommodation. Getting one in the car park is like finding gold dust, but instead there will be plenty dotted around the accommodation areas instead as they will be abandoned after people have started unpacking.
8. Get children’s ID wrist bands from the swimming pool. The pool reception has a box of bright orange wristbands for children. On these you can write your name and phone number just in case your child gets lost during your stay.
9. If you have small children with little legs that will tire easily, take a scooter or balance bike with you. They will be allowed to use these all around the resort and will be especially helpful if your accommodation is located quite a walk from the pavilion.
10. Don’t be afraid to ask staff for extra loo roll instead of buying yourself a multi-pack or taking some with you. They only put 2 in our room on arrival, but gave us an extra 4 when requested.
11. Download the B-Serve app before you arrive and create an account. This is the app you use to order drinks, snacks or food around the resort and at shows and will save you faff and time if you are familiar with it before you go.
12. Don’t panic if you haven’t managed to book any shows or swimming before you arrive. Lots of people cancel last minute or don’t show up so it you go to the event and ask staff if there’s any space, they will let you in if so just before it starts. People also cancel whilst they’re there and things will become available for booking on the “plan my day” website page during your stay.
13. Make the most of your last day. They ask you to checkout by 10am and leave the site for 11am, but there’s nothing stopping you sticking around for the last day. The check out is express checkout so all you do is pop your form and keys in a box. The fun fair doesn’t open until 3pm on that day, but there are still the arcades, parks, shops etc to enjoy and even some shows. You won’t be able to book the shows, but if you ask to wait for a space if someone doesn’t turn up, they’ll let you in. Some shows are also on the skyline stage so you don’t need to book to watch if you don’t mind standing and watching from the fence around it or even sitting at the bar or Burger King etc and watching from there.
14. Don’t leave it until the last morning to total up your arcade tickets and select your prizes. The queues for both will be really long and that makes it quite stressful when trying to get your child(ren) to choose their prizes quickly. If you plan to leave on time in the morning, cash in your tickets the night before. Or if you plan to stick around for longer on the last day, wait until after 12:00 to cash in your tickets as there will be no queue.
15. Buy your food, snacks and drinks from a supermarket just outside the resort. There will be a supermarket just around the corner which will be cheaper than the supermarket on resort. It also means you don’t need to take up lots space in the car bringing them from home.
That’s what my brain keeps telling me at the moment. No matter how many people tell me I’m not, there’s no louder voice than the one in my head. And it’s reminding me numerous times a day that I’ve failed at the one thing I wanted to be: a good mummy.
This is my end goal – motherhood. It’s exactly what I ever wanted and dreamed about. So many years of my life were spent planning what kind of mother I will be and here I am, with 2 amazing boys, feeling like I’ve failed them. One has a broken collarbone and the other one has been so poorly with a viral infection he ended up in the children’s hospital. I failed to protect them. I failed to keep them safe. I failed at the most important part of my job description and it hurts.
Yes I know sometimes these things can’t be helped.
Yes I know that’s it’s not my fault.
Yes I know that I’ve been a good mum.
BUT none of that seems to matter to the little voice in my head right now. That voice is telling me: this might have been helped, if I did X, Y and Z maybe it wouldn’t have happened, it doesn’t matter how much of a good mum I’ve been before, I still wasn’t good enough this time.
I’m spending my days bobbing up and down on waves of emotion. I can be so happy one minute: playing with the boys, all 3 of us laughing. BUT then that little voice steals the moment and just like that I’m cry I again. The voice reminds me I have no right to be happy because they’ve been hurting and I should have protected them. I should have stopped Otis from running. I should have caught him. I should have used more hand gel whilst sorting through the shopping. I should have bathed Eddison every night. I should, I should, I should…….
I’m well aware that this rollercoaster I feel I’m on is a sign of depression. In fact I’m well aware that the feelings of being an inadequate mother, knowing my boys deserve better is a typical sign of post-natal depression. But I don’t have a new baby so instead this feeling is labelled as “mum guilt” and my goodness mum guilt is the most torturous thing in the world. When I say torture I really mean torture, a mental and emotional kind.
So here it comes, the apologies I feel I need to make:
I’m sorry Otis and Eddison that I’ve failed at being a mum. I’m sorry husband that I have no energy for anything. I’m sorry everyone that I’m not myself. I’m sorry I’m making no effort with anyone. I’m sorry I’m not replying to or even reading all my messages. I’m sorry I can’t shrug this off as I usually would.
This is just how I’m feeling right now. It’s not ok, but it is understandable and I think because I can understand why I feel like this, I’m going to be ok.
If, as a parent, you’re anything like me then the arrival of the beloved Elf on the Shelf on December 1st is as much daunting as it is exciting! Don’t get me wrong, I love our elf Jingles and the fun that he brings with him, but I would be lying if I didn’t say some mornings I’m running around in a stress as I hear Otis’ footsteps coming down the stairs because I’ve forgotten to position the elf and can’t think of anything!
I’ve gotten together with a group of amazing (and creative!) Mummies to bring you these ideas, tried out in our own homes last year! I hope you will find them useful and this blog post will help you bring the magic of Christmas to your home (without the stress!)
Scroll down for photo inspiration ⬇️
Our Elf On The Shelf ideas:
Our Elf on the Shelf ideas:
Elf arrives with advent calendar and a note
Elf ties up cuddly toy with loo roll
Elf does a little drawing
Elf brings (Tesco) Christmas cookies to decorate
race track Elf (or just riding a toy car if no track at home)
Elf makes minion bananas
Elf plays football (goal made of straws and string – you could use anything as two goalposts)
Elf hijacks Santa’s sleigh (or any Christmas ornament)
Elf reads to toys
do you want to build a snowman Elf (Out of loo roll)
Snap, Crackle and Elf! (Could be any cereal box!)
Christmas tree decorating Elf
Marshmallow toasting Elf (with candle, marshmallows, cocktail sticks and other toys)
crumpet breakfast Elf
snow scene play Elf
All aboard the Shoe Shoe Train Elf
taped up Elf (by another toy)
Elf hospital (with first aid kit / doctor dress up kit)
Elf car wash (cars, soap and water)
Cereal dump truck Elf
This tree is pants Elf (pants / nappies on tree)
stair slide Elf (in loo roll)
Elf wrapping (doesn’t have to be big furniture, even the child’s toothbrush would be fun!)
Elf zipline to tree (add candycanes for more fun!)
Egg decorating Elf (include a kinder surprise for an extra treat)
help me! elf (stuck in a balloon tied to the ceiling)
Elf snowball fights (cotton wool balls or even scrunched up loo roll / paper)
Upside down Elf (could be on any furniture or shelf, but the tree is great!)
taped TV Elf (could use ribbon, loo roll, newspaper)
loo roll tinsel elf
hanging around Elf (hang from any switched off light)
hot chocolate Elf (add mess to worktop to be extra realistic)
Going for a ride Elf (attach to pet’s collar)
Funny magnets Elf
I hopefully you and your little ones have lots of fun with your Elf this December and that these ideas help make your run-up to Christmas more magical!
Please do comment below if you want to share any more!