Butlins 2018, High Ropes, Nine Bots and Hot, Sunny Days.

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Our family loves Butlins, to us its our happy place and we try to visit at least annually for a short break. Over the past 7 years we have done 11 breaks, initially to Minehead but since discovering the amazing hotels at Bognor Regis, we now drive down to West Sussex.   I don’t normally write about each trip, but our visit last weekend was special and different, it felt like the passing of time and deserving of a few words. There are some trips which we have done to Butlins which will always stand out, our first visit was our first holiday as a family and came the week of our adoption order and my first mothers’ day, we’ve also done Easter, Christmas and Halloween at Butlins which are always special for their seasonal celebrations, decorations and personal touches.  We love Butlins for its attention to detail, family friendliness and the variety of activities on offer, there really is always something to do.

Last weekend was special for a number of reasons.  Firstly the weather was stunning, we have never had such gorgeous sunshine and high temperatures at Butlins and finally got to enjoy our room’s balcony as well as al fresco dining around the site.  Mr S in very impressive form had booked me a spa experience and massage as a birthday treat and I had a wonderful afternoon in the spa.  I went from the sunshine and warmth of the outside hot tub to the snow and ice room and many more treats in between.  The massage was one of the best I have ever had and I felt so relaxed and refreshed after my spa experience.  Bonus points for Mr S!

During our little break, we realised how quickly the children are growing up.  We started going to Butlins when they were toddlers and Mr S and I  looked nostalgically at the tots funfair, the toddlers activity centre etc.. all those hours we had spent with the children  in those areas as well as watching the shows and having photos taken with their heroes, Fireman Sam, Angelina Ballerina etc…  This time we didn’t watch any of the children’s shows, only the evening ones in Centre Stage or Reds.  During this stay the children were ecstatic that they were now tall or old enough for new experiences.  They did the High Ropes and although they started cautiously they quickly developed the skills and confidence on the course.  They also tried Nine Bots which are junior versions of Segways.  I was worried how Little Man would cope as he has some motor difficulties, yet he was the stronger of the two and picked up the instructions and directions immediately, he was zooming around the course at such a speed and so happy with his success.  The swimming and slides were great and a welcome relief in the heat, the pool party on Saturday night with DJ and inflatables and props was especially fun .  However, we’re all looking forward to our trip next year with the new water park opening in Spring 2019 as it looks fantastic with lots of new rides and slides to try.

We found this break that Mr S and I had a little extra time too, the children are now at an age where they’re looking for a little independence and we allowed them some unsupervised parent time in the staffed areas like the games room or arranged a meeting point at the fair whilst they did the stomach churning rides that neither of us fancied.  Holidays are now starting to get a little more relaxing for us too (I’m whispering that as we have our summer holiday next week and I don’t want to jinx it!)

I can’t imagine a time when we won’t be coming to Butlins.  I only discovered it with Mr S and the children as I had never been to a Butlins resort as a child and it is now my happy, safe place.  As soon as we enter I feel relaxed, ready to have fun and make happy memories with our little gang of 4, Butlins really is special to us all.

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My Sunday Photo #21

The combination of the summer holidays and a few grey days mean we’ve been creating cosy corners and settling down to read this week. I have read some excellent books, Notes on a Nervous Planet and This is Going to Hurt whilst the children are working their way through their books for the summer reading challenge, Mischief Makers. As part of the challenge this week they also attended a workshop at our local library where they learnt to draw cartoons and write a comic story. The reading challenge is a always a lovely little project and has become a summer holiday tradition.

Happy times in my kitchen …

 

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Despite the quality of the photo, the icing was duck blue and the stars silver and purple.

One of my favourite things to do in anticipation of birthdays and special events is to plan the cake. I love baking, the flavour and filling are just as important as the decoration and I am always looking on Pinterest for inspiration and tips. Baking in the kitchen listening to my music is one of my happy times and my cakes are baked with lots of love. Mr S thinks it would be easier and cheaper to buy a shop bought version but that’s just not me, baking a cake for my family brings me real joy and satisfaction.

It’s been birthday season in the Sparkles household so here are our birthday cakes for this year. Little Miss had a glitter ball cake. It was an orange and almond sponge with a white chocolate and orange filling, covered in a turquoise icing decorated with purple and silver stars. A simple but very effective design and delicious flavour.

For Little Man, I made a football cake with a football figure, no 9 Harry Kane who was his world cup hero.  His cake was a lemon and lime marble sponge topped with a green icing and white icing for football pitch markings.  He loved it although I would have preferred something less plain as to me it did look like it was missing a little something.

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Whoops I forgot to get a good picture of the cake and most have my Little Man in blowing out his candles.  This is part of the cake, imagine a football pitch with cut out icing letters spelling out his name and age. 

Whilst birthday season is now over, I’m already planning a Halloween cake with a spicy orange flavour and then a special design for Christmas.  I think this has to be the year when I finally make a Christmas cake!

#ecosparkles2018

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Whilst its been a little while since I did a catch up, my #ecosparkles2018 commitment is still going strong.  I have tried to reduce, reuse, recycle or repair in many aspects of daily life and I’m pleased with my progress whilst acknowledging there is always more to do.  Of all my actions I think clothes is a big change, I am buying fewer items and have repaired two things in the past few weeks rather than recycle them.

However the one area I’ve really focused on is reducing my use of plastic.  There have been many articles in the media highlighting the impact of plastic on our environment and it is worrying.  I have become quite zealous in not buying plastic bags or using plastic cups this year, my count on both is zero and I have refused to purchase a drink if it is served in a plastic cup.  I always carry a drinks bottle and cafes have no problem in filling it up or in giving me a glass for my drink rather than the plastic cups they provide.  It was a real eye opener at Butlins this week on how so many national food outlets use plastic, I found paper plates and wooden cutlery but there was far too much plastic just being thrown away not even into recycling bins.  I’m used to independent cafes in our small town who are definitely more eco friendly.

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It was my birthday recently and it appears my crusade has been noticed by friends too.  I got a Chilly water bottle which keeps your drink cool or hot dependent on the content and it is amazing, this is not an ad just an appreciation of a great piece of kit.  I also received some beeswax wraps to be used instead of cling film for food covering.  Again I have been pleasantly surprised by their efficiency and I’m also using Tupperware boxes for food storage too (old not new purchases as they are plastic) rather than covering in cling film.  In the shops, I look at food packaging and have found the market the greenest place for plastic free packaging, I’m the 1950s housewife with my wicker basket of fruit and veg and I rock my look! My local health food shop is also encouraging you to bring in containers to take away your product so I’ve been taking advantage of this invitation too.  I’ve been using this article for inspiration too

https://myplasticfreelife.com/plasticfreeguide/

There is always plenty more to do, but just by making some simple changes, I feel I am helping in my own little way and am looking for new ways to be eco friendly in the months to come.

My Sunday Photo #20

This weekend we are at our family’s happy place, Butlin’s. In 2011, it was our first family holiday and we have continued to visit ever since, I think this is our 11th visit and we’ve been here for Easter, Christmas, Halloween as well as other times during the year. For us it’s just a happy and safe place where we get to play and enjoy our time together. As the years have gone on, our activities of choice have changed, it’s much more adventurous this break with High ropes and Nine bots but it’s still about a feeling, a warm, sparkly feeling of very special family times.

Sunshine, shows and beach days – July’s #littleloves

Hello and welcome to July’s Little loves, it’s all about the sunshine and shows this month.

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This month, I have tried to give myself a few minutes every day to sit and relax and for me the simplest way to do this is to open my Kindle and read.  On these hot, sunny days its been a little treat to sit in the garden with a cooler breeze in the evenings.

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One of my favourite reading spots, the grown ups hideaway.

I don’t know where I found the time ( although I don’t watch Love Island) but I managed to read four books this month with my favourites being The Party by Elizabeth Day and Sheila O’Flanagan’s What happened that night.  It’s funny how a theme develops in the books you read, this month 3 books had a similar plot line related to a significant night in the characters lives.

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It seems so long ago but I really enjoyed watching the World Cup this month with Little Man who loves his football.  It felt like it was the dawning of a new era with England, a new team ethos, support for each other and a careful and thoughtful manager, it was great to be an England supporter and Little Man and I are looking forward to Euro 2020.

The children have been treading the boards at our local theatre this month.  Both appeared in their school’s play and were practicing their songs in the preceding weeks.  Little Miss had an acting role and has such stage prescence and confidence, Little Man as a younger pupil was in the chorus which suited him just fine and he loved his costume and painted face.

However the big event of the month has been the dance studio’s anniversary show.  The cast have been practicing since Christmas and July was an intense period for all, Little Miss as a dancer and myself as a matron.  I had guidelines to follow and cues to learn too! The show was stunning, it was hard to believe that it was an amateur performance with the quality of the dancing, set design, lighting etc… It was on at our local theatre for 5 performances and was sold out each evening.  Given the population of our town is 10k and around 2k people came to see it over the run, it gives you some idea of the well deserved excellent reputation the dance studio has in the community.  I saw the show on the opening night and it really was one of the most beautiful ballets I have seen.

img_5378Cooking has been limited due to the heat and number of show rehearsals this month.  However I have been making an effort every weekend to make something special and following a meal out at an amazing Thai restaurant with friends I experimented making curries with some new flavours and ingredients at home, all was received very well and I enjoy that little bit of creativity with food.

img_5384Sun hats, sun glasses, swimsuits, sundresses, shorts and t-shirts; Summer of 2018 thank you very much for this wonderful heatwave and the opportunity to wear my summer wardrobe in full.

Oh and I also gave myself a little England manicure in preparation for the semi final.

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img_5380One of the highlights this month was a night out at a festival.  Last year my friend held a mini festival in her garden and her son and his band played for us. This year, it was moved to a larger outdoor venue and gave the opportunity for more local, youth bands to play.  It was brilliant with some original songs but mixed in with Bowie, U2, Rolling Stones, Kinks covers etc..  The talent was unbelievable, the teenagers are so gifted and enthusiastic and just showed that nothing beats live music. The festival theme was fully embraced with wristbands as we entered and merchandise for sale which all produced a healthy donation to a local charity.

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The view from the festival, no neighbours to disturb here! As night fell the venue was decorated with fairy lights and it all looked magical. 

  img_5386I loved July but it was busy, in addition to the above we’ve been to Paultons Park, had visits from family and tried to squeeze in as much time as possible on the beach.  This year August is all about the R’s, rest, relax, recharge.

Thank you to Morgana for her monthly linkie and all those who join in

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