Tag Archives: family

Let me take a photo of you…


“Let me take a photo of you and E”.
That’s what my mum said today.
Being a single mum, I rarely have pictures of me and the children together.
So Mum kindly volunteered to take a picture of me and my daughter.


We had a few false starts…


But got there eventually!


Camera phone’s take some getting used to. My mum hates mine! But I’m glad she persevered as it’s a lovely picture :)

Just need one of me with my son next!

Troutbeck Cottage B&B

For my family holiday this summer I’m going up to Northumberland, but as it’s rather a long way (especially with two travel-sick prone children) I’m breaking the journey part way near Carlisle.

Me and my parent’s looked at various options to break the journey before we stumbled across the details for Troutbeck Cottage B&B in Warwick Bridge. It’s not far from the M6, just off the A69.

The prices were reasonable and it seemed ideal for our needs, so we booked a double room for my parents and a family room for me, E and M.

We arrived and were shown around by the welcoming proprietor, Sally. We enquired about places to eat nearby that were child friendly and Sally produced menu’s from local pubs that were suitable. We chose the Lane End Inn  www.laneendinnhayton.robinsonsbrewery.com about 2 miles further along the A69.

The food there was excellent, and the staff were welcoming and friendly. The food is prepared on the premises and it really shows! My mum and I managed to slurp our way through a bottle of the house red (well priced at £12 a bottle). We all enjoyed our meals, and the children loved theirs too. Sometimes when I eat out with my children, I feel like the children’s menu is just an assortment of crap from the bottom of the freezer. This was definitely not the case at Lane End Inn. The fish fingers E had were huge and clearly homemade. M had pizza slices and chips which again, were all homemade. The pizza slice was possibly the nicest tasting I’ve had in years! (I was forced to sample it 😉 not that I minded) Children’s meals were a good price ( £5 for a main with chips, peas or beans, a glass of cordial and two scoops of ice cream) and really generous portions. My mum and I shared a dessert of Eton Mess which was delicious and packed with fresh strawberries. E swiped a fair old amount of our dessert too!

After our meal, I gave the children a lesson in playing pool in the adjoining room as we finished our drinks. The pool table was free to play on, which was a nice surprise.  Then we headed back to Troutbeck Cottage for the night.

The family room that I had booked is spacious and well laid out. There are two single beds and one double, a television, wardrobe, dressing table and tea making facilities. I especially love that actual decent sized glasses and cups are provided. Not just that…. Actual wine glasses too! Although I don’t need them on this occasion, the number of times I’ve ended up drinking wine out of a tea cup in hotels, this seems very civilised indeed!

Troutbeck Cottage - they think of everything!
Troutbeck Cottage – they think of everything!

There is also an en suite shower room, which is spotlessly clean and contains fluffy towels, shower gel and shampoo, soap and flannels etc.




I’m writing this post while tucked up in bed drinking camomile tea, and I have to say, it’s a very comfortable bed! Both children are now sound asleep. The room has a blackout blind and thick curtains which is great if your children struggle to settle while it’s still light. There is some traffic noise, but I’d be astonished if there wasn’t as the B&B is situated well for just hopping off the A69. I can confidently say that the traffic hasn’t bothered E & M and I’m positive it won’t bother me.

I’ve filled out a form for each of us regarding what we would like for breakfast and I’m already expecting fabulous things!

So on that note.. Goodnight all



Trentham Gardens

My family tend to arrange days out together throughout the year. We utilise Tesco clubcard vouchers as much as possible in order as with eight of us in total, the price of a day out can rapidly escalate.
Last month we arranged a night away in Stoke on Trent. We stayed at the Holiday Inn, which was lovely. We had booked two family rooms, which included dinner, bed and breakfast with the children eating free.
We spent the Saturday when we arrived at Trentham Gardens, using Tesco vouchers to pay for our tickets.
Walking up to the estate entrance you pad through a shopping village area. We did not get to look around this at all as we were looking to enjoy the gardens with the children, but there was a good range of independent and small chain shops there.

Trentham gardens are set around a lake designed by Capability Brown. There was originally a manor house overlooking the lake, but sadly this has fallen into terrible disrepair. This website here has images of the original hall.
We spent a lovely day strolling around the lake looking for the many wire work fairies that are dotted around the grounds. This proved an excellent way to keep the three children in our group moving onwards!


The adventure playground in the estate is excellent and all three children (ages 7, 9 and 9) had a great time playing there while the adults relaxed on a bench under some trees.
It’s a place I definitely want to return to. Soon!

Trentham Gardens Website


Leaving a marriage which his broken down is hard. Really bloody hard.
No one gets married thinking “I’ll settle down for a bit and then probably we will divorce and life will carry on”.
Marriage is all about the optimism. That at the time in your life you honestly believe that this other person will make you happy, and you will make them happy, for the rest of your life. Having that not work out is devastating no matter what.
At least it was for me. I spent a lot of time trying to make it work ” for the kids ” etc. I can honestly say that I tried far more and for far longer than I should have.
So, with those battle scars I am naturally even more cautious in matters of the heat.

So it’s taken me a while to let my guard down, and even now I can’t say in all honesty that I’ve completely relaxed. But I’m definitely getting there.
My relationship now is very different to any I’ve been in before. But then I suppose I’m a different person now.
Being involved with someone new when you have children adds extra challenges to a relationship. Thankfully my children have really taken to my boyfriend and I think (hope!) that his children like me as much as I like them.

When my boyfriend and his children come to stay for a few days I love it! A house full of children – we have six in total- with lots of laughter and fun.  I just wish we could spend more time together!

Homework Horror & Cycling

I understand that most schools expect children to do homework now, even when my children were in Reception class they had homework. I really wish they didn’t though! I’ve just spent over an hour and a half with my eight year old daughter doing various homework sheets. I will have to spend more time with her tomorrow practising her spellings, times tables and doing some reading with her. I do all this reasonably happily because I don’t want her to struggle in class. I can see the use in this sort of homework.

My son is in Year 2. He has a Learning Log, which I hate having to do with him, because it seems utterly pointless in educational terms. Every fortnight, it comes home with a vague title and a request for us to fill out a double A4 spread on a seemingly random topic.

“We’re learning about history, please tell us about your family in history” 

“It’s Christmas, please tell us about your Christmas traditions”

I loathe this! Really, completely and utterly loathe it. I end up trying to find as many things as possible to stick in to use up the space faster. My son has no real idea what they are after – why would he? He’s six. What the fuck does he know about his family history or Christmas traditions? So his homework, which I believe is pointless, takes ages, as I have to explain the topic to him, explain how it’s of relevance to him, and then explain what he can write about. To me, it just feels like the school testing how involved parent’s are as it’s blatantly not homework the child can do on their own at all. I would far rather the school sent home actual homework.

Luckily it was a nice day today so before we started on the homework, we managed to get outside for a bit and the children got to ride their bikes. I’m going to have to invest in a bike rack I think. I have a bike, but rarely get to ride it, as I’d want to be somewhere safe if I’m on my bike while the children are on theirs. Where I live there are lots of lovely areas to cycle around, but with two children, a car will be required to get to them.

I’m so impressed with how well both children have taken to cycling. My daughter learned a few years ago after my dad ran up and down the field in our local park holding the back of her bike while she got her balance. Then my son learned last summer, my brother in law was amazing, running up and down the road with him dozens of times while he got the hang of it. Being on my own I so appreciate all the support I get from my family.

Reading, Watching & Socialising

<p>I love to read. Always have done.</p><p>I usually have a few books on the go at the time as I tend to flit depending on my mood (or where I am)</p><p>On my Kindle, I’m currently reading the Rise and Fall of the Third Reich – William Shirer, which is a fascinating read so far. The Nazification of Germany could potentially have been stopped at so many points, and I’m only just at the stage where Hitler has declared himself Fuehrer.
Human nature stopped that from happening.The way that people tend to think the best of people, to ascribe positive traits to others, was the very thing that allowed Hitler to seize power. He repeatedly lied, but people trusted him. He repeatedly pushed his agenda, leaving the disarmament programme because other countries weren’t disarming as quickly as he wanted them to, while all the time he was secretly re-arming Germany.</p><p>I’m enjoying learning more about a part of history that I did not study at school. Plus I think it is vital that people are aware of the past, as there are such valuable lessons to be learnt.</p><p>The other thing I have been doing this weekend, is watching a crime drama on Iplayer called Luther. Now I’m not generally much of a fan of crime novels, or series. I tend to think there is quite enough evil in the world without creating more!</p><p>However, I have been enjoying Luther, even though I was a bit uncomfortable at watching it in the house alone when I realised the content!</p><p>Other than that, I’ve had a busy few days socially. Exercise class went really well last week and it was lovely to be back doing something I enjoy. Sadly I can’t go this week, but I’m determined to get back to it again the following week. Then I had a friend’s hen night out on Friday which was great fun. We went to a local restaurant which does tapas style food. We were advised to order three to four dishes each and I’m glad I opted for three as it was plenty! The food was amazing and I can’t wait to go back.  It was lovely to see old friends that I haven’t seen much of recently due to busy lives syndrome. And also great to just chat to strangers. I met some really interesting people, and saw some amazing shoes on one of the other ladies on the night out ;)</p><p> This was followed by a family get together at my house the next day, which was lovely and relaxing. I’d planned the food to ensure that it required minimal cooking. I hate the cooking part most of all and get into a right mood having to do it. So a giant salad, couscous dish and pre-cooked meat was the way to go! It’s the type of food that I always eat myself too. I often end up being pressganged into doing a huge roast dinner when my family come and it’s stressful purely because I don’t ever do roast dinners.  My mum and sister can witter on as much as they like about how easy it is.. but I don’t eat roast dinners at home. I don’t even particularly LIKE roast dinners! So cooking them is alien and a total pain in the arse for me. So I opted out of all that crap this time and it was much better, I was much more relaxed and therefore, I actually enjoyed hosting. For once.</p><p>I’ll be remembering that for next time.</p><p>I’m starting the week in an optimistic frame of mind despite a few minor niggles in my private life.</p><p>Anyway, back to my reading..</p>

Cadbury World & Warwick Castle

I spent this last weekend away with my children and parents. We set off on Saturday morning for Birmingham where we were meeting my sister and her family. After a high speed picnic in the park and a quick run around for the three kids, we went into Cadbury World. My sister uses Tesco a lot for her food shopping, and as a result she had a huge amount of Tesco Clubcard vouchers to use. So she had pre-booked all our tickets. We went straight in and I was in heaven smelling all that chocolate!

The tour took about two hours and kept the children entertained for the duration. I would LOVE to go back without the kids at some point though, just so I can actually read more about the process.

After the tour we went on to the hotel in Solihull where we had booked in for the night. My two children were extremely excited at staying in a hotel, particularly my son! I’m not sure what he was expecting, but he said it was even better than he’d expected. And bearing in mind he had been ecstatic at the prospect, that is pretty good!

We went for a swim and then got changed ready for our evening meal My sister had booked us a table at Bella Italia, which was just across the road from the hotel. It was a great meal and the three kids were brilliantly behaved, which really takes the strain out of eating out with them. My son was really starting to flag with tiredness by the time the desserts arrived. He was asleep within seconds of climbing into his bed, utterly exhausted!

Next day we were down for breakfast bright and early. My daughter adored the whole hotel breakfast experience. She took about six trips to the buffet area, coming back with a different course each time. Both kids said they wanted to live in a hotel when they grew up.. Hope they both get exceptionally well paid careers in that case!

After that we checked out and headed to Warwick Castle. Another batch of Clubcard vouchers had been deployed and so we wandered in, bypassing all the queues. We checked out the planned events of the day and decided on our schedule. There was a Mike the Knight event on that day so the children soon had us hunting all around the place finding dragon’s eggs with clues. We watched displays on Bird’s of Prey, Warriors and archery and then finally the Flaming Trebuchet.

Each display was fun and interesting. Pitched just perfectly for kids and yet informative enough for adults too. As each display lasted around 15-20 minutes it was perfect for a child’s short attention span. We left Warwick Castle around 5.30 and headed into the city centre to find parking and a cheap pub meal. We found parking on a side street thanks to google maps on my phone. It was bit of a panic navigating to Wetherspoons from there though as my phone battery was almost out! We made it though and had a cheap but cheerful dinner before hustling the children back into the cars (after the obligatory Joyride travel sickness pills for my two) and we set off for home.

Both children were wiped out, but we all had a fantastic time. They had a nice early night last night to try to recover a bit of sleep after their two late nights and full on days.

Me? I was in bed almost as soon as they were asleep on the Sunday night!

I am the Tooth Fairy!

My sister’s son has been questioning the existence of the tooth fairy.
“Mummy, I don’t think there really is a tooth fairy. I think you sneak in at night when I’m asleep and take my teeth and leave money.”
My sister’s genius response?
“Why on earth would I want your teeth? What am I supposed to be doing with your old teeth? Making a necklace?!” *loud laughter*
Nephew – “Hmmmm. I suppose not.. There MUST be a tooth fairy then..”

This conversation then brought us to the fact that I have one of my daughter’s baby teeth in my purse. I keep forgetting its there. I realised two weeks ago.
It was during my daughter’s birthday party at soft play hell, one of her friends came in having been dropped off by another child’s mum. “Elaine, can you look after this until my mum comes please?” she said as she deposited a bloody tooth on the palm of my hand. I checked her over & she was fine. She’d just wiggled it a bit over-enthusiastically in the car.
“Of course” I said “I’ll put it in my purse”
“Keep it safe for me for the tooth fairy!” She said.
So I went to pop it into my purse, only to see daughter’s old tooth nestled there.
Clearly I should be the tooth fairy, as I’m already garnering quite the collection.