Corfu 2015

resortLast week, during half term we had an amazing time at the Aqualand Resort in Corfu. It is an all inclusive resort set among the green hills of Corfu, with three swimming pools and an adjacent Water park.  It was the perfect venue for us, the resort was so clean, tidy and well maintained, the food fresh, plentiful and varied and there was plenty of entertainment during the day and the evening.  However rather than write a full review of the holiday I thought I would just note down the sparkles which made us love the holiday.

* The preparation, holiday hair and fancy nails.

* Shopping at Departures.

* Stepping off the plane late at night as the warm air hits you by surprise.

* The smell of suntan lotion.

* Swimming costumes and cover ups .

* Flips Flops and sunglasses.

* Taking time and enjoying getting ready for dinner.

* Sitting on the balcony early evening with Little Miss reading our books in warm sunshine.

* Just being in the moment.

* The Children’s Euro disco, cheesie classics and Dad dancing!

* Putting away the digital devices.

* The taste of sunshine in salads and fruit.

* New scenery

* Family photos.

* Just the 4 of us.

* Regional foods and delicacies.

* Cocktails.

* Happy sounds, laughing, splashing, chatting.

* Waking up to bright sunshine and a warm breeze.

* Pancakes for breakfast.

* No cooking, cleaning or washing.

* Watching a spectacular thunder and lightning storm and soon after sunbathing in beautiful sunshine.

* Tan lines.

* Lie ins.

* Devouring a bestseller on a sun lounger.

* Rediscovering your ‘fun’ side

* Family card games.

* The tinge of sadness as suitcases are packed and its time to leave.



Little Sparkles – The Holiday Edition

This week’s edition comes from Corfu, well it was written and planned in Corfu but for me holidays are a digital detox so is being typed up at home.  Our holiday was wonderful, a stunning resort, gorgeous weather (apart from a spectacular storm on Wednesday afternoon) and really special family times.  I have drafted another post about the holiday so I’ll just do Little Sparkles here.



Whilst I think my Kindle has many attributes nothing beats a new paperback to go on holiday.  This choice was an impulse buy, I had read no reviews or press and simply chose it because it was in the charts at half price and as it was written by a French author and translated into English it appealed to the Francophile in me.  I cannot recommend this book highly enough, I finished it 2 days ago and am still thinking and reflecting on it.  Its been described as a love story, mystery and crime story, though to me it could easily be a tragedy.  The characterisations are brilliant and the plot twists are intelligent, believable and all add to the story which has a highly satisfactory uncontrived ending, some characters will continue to haunt me.

As with the most loved books, it is now dog eared, splashed with water and sprayed with sun tan lotion but that just makes it even more special and I am sure I will dip into it again, there are some beautiful quotes and language in it that just encourage it to be re read.


Whilst I have been busy watching the children in the pools, I love people watching on holiday from behind my sunglasses on the sun lounger.  I observe the fashions, family dynamics, guess the nationalities, people are so interesting.


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On holiday it is lovely to sit back and simply listen to people enjoying themselves, the shrieks from the pool, the encouragement of parents, the laughter and applause as a family member descends a slide, happy times.  I have also listened nightly to the childrens’ disco songs, a European mix of cheesie classics,  Agadoo, the Birdie song in French and other Euro tunes designed to satisfy all the nationalities at the resort.  The childrens’ disco is a lovely example of how children can communicate despite language differences and all enjoy dancing and playing together,



One morning at the Children’s club, Little Miss and I decorated this t-shirt, I really enjoyed our time simply painting and talking.  She chose very carefully the words for her t-shirt and added all our names.


I have also made my family laugh a lot this week.  Once by accident when I hoped a rather undignified but spectacular fall from a rubber ring into the pool would have gone un noticed until I saw the boys laughing hysterically and using hand signals to illustrate the fall.  Then, I had a go at lots of scary slides at the resort, with names such as Double Twister, Extreme and the Black Hole they only encouraged me to ham up my performance with lots of girlie screams which had my audience laughing rather than applauding my performances!


I got to wear my new Summer clothes this week!  During the day it was swimming costumes and cover ups and in the evening a simple dress or shorts with a fancy top.  My buy of the season has to be my cherry red shorts from Next, so comfortable and stylish.  I’ve also worn those Summer essentials, sun tan lotion, sunglasses and a straw hat

Little Sparkles

As I write this I am buzzing with the excitement of our holiday tomorrow, I’ve had a lovely week getting ready for the holiday, all is ready and packed and I have pretty nails, nice hair and am smooth all over!!


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I have started the book, All Day Long by Joanna Biggs. It was a book I picked up at the library and it contains accounts of people’s working days. I’m finding it really interesting and am reflecting on many aspects of it, the way our working lives are changing, the type of work we are doing and the way we work. It has also made me appreciate how much I love my job!


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This week I have been creating the Holiday Mix Tape (see earlier post) so have been searching and listening to lots of different music. It’s amazing how one song can lead to a recommendation and a whole musical journey develops. I’m looking forward to hearing our Play list in full, there are some cracking tunes on it!

I also tuned in to Test Match Special (TMS) today as the first Test match of the Summer started. It is such a delightful broadcast, it captures the spirit of cricket and is a witty and relaxed accompaniment to the day.


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More on the cricket theme as on Sunday afternoon, whilst Mr S and his Dad watched the football play offs at home, I took the children to the cricket club to watch a fun cricket  tournament featuring local clubs and companies in a short format of the game.  I was there particularly to cheer on my running friends and the ladies finished as sporting runner ups. It was a lovely atmosphere, bright sunshine, relaxed conversation and of course a legendary cricket tea.


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This week, a national newspaper has been giving away Lego kits. Despite it being a paper I despise, as a good Mummy I have been every day to buy it and get the Lego. Therefore this week’s make is a Lego model because whilst Mr S is the Lego King I was challenged to make a model and couldn’t resist, I made the car and am proud of my efforts!


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In the week of a holiday it’s not about what you wear but what you’re not allowed to wear as everything is washed, ironed and packed away for the holiday.  Whilst my wardrobe has been rather plain and simple, I have worn sparkly nail varnish on my toes since my pedicure on Wednesday and I have also worn my hair straight since my Keratin treatment too.  For someone whose hair grows out rather than down , the treatment has been a revelation and after years of a frizzy mess I am loving smooth, longer hair.

Mix Tape

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I love the preparation and anticipation of a big event and so am in my element this week as we get ready for our holiday on Friday.  Away from all the admin, clothes packing etc.. I love to do the special sparkles to make the holiday special.  This includes my secret ‘holiday’ bag full of treats for everyone and the task I’ve been working on today my ‘Mix tape’  The Mix Tape has been a feature of many holidays and special events over my life.  I love my music and love creating a soundtrack for special times.  My first mix tapes were taped from the radio and my double tape player, this progressed to CDs and now it is playlists on my iTunes account. Friends used to make me mix tapes too and I will always be grateful to one, who made some classic tapes for me. I still remember my delight and amusement at discovering Jimi Hendrix’s ‘Foxy Lady’ on a tape he had done for me.

Every tape needs to start with a strong number and in celebration of our trip to a Greek island, this mix has to begin with Zorba the Greek!  It needs to be an identifiable song and set the tone of the holiday.  As it’s a holiday mix it’s upbeat and happy and includes songs for us all.  Little Miss has asked for ‘Let it Go’ from Frozen and ‘Girls Just Wanna Have Fun’, Little Man has the Star Wars theme and ‘Happy’ from Despicable Me.  There are also the family songs which we all sing along to together, Queen’s ‘We Will Rock You’, American Authors, ‘Best Day of My Life’, classic Summer songs and some special songs which have special meaning.  I’ve included Noah and the Whale’s Five Years’ Time; it’s such a lovely song with beautiful lyrics. It was originally out In August 2008, the most heart breaking time of my and Mr S time together.  We needed to believe that life was going to get better and this song put our hopes to music.  This year we’re celebrating 5 years as a family and the song full of love is perfect for the mix tape.  My choice  for the mix is Mark Ronson’s ‘Uptown Funk’ my favourite song of the year so far and one that is guaranteed to put me in a brilliant mood.

The Mix tape is now ready and downloaded onto the necessary devices.  I’m not going to play it until we arrive in Corfu and am looking forward to singing and dancing to it as our little family in the warm sunshine.  Life is about little details and our Mix tape is a little detail to help make the holiday sparkle.

The Village Time Forgot …

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Our area is rich in history and has strong connections with the Second World War as many troops were stationed and preparations made for D day in our locality. One story of this period is of the ‘ghost’ village we visited today.  It was a small village of 100 households who in December  1943 were ordered to move out of the village for the war effort but promised they could return at the end of the war.  Sadly the promise was not kept, the residents never returned and the village was left to ruin.  Over the past few years, some development has been undertaken to make it more informative and interesting, information boards in the ruined houses, a recreation of the school house, artefacts displayed etc..  However because of the legalities of the land, owned by the MOD with exercises still taking place nearby it is not a developed tourist attraction, only open at certain periods of the year and all commercial ventures are forbidden.  Such restrictions have made the area an unusual haven for stunning wildlife, we heard cuckoos today and walked through woods full of wild garlic on our way to the bay.  We had Grandad with us and his breadth of knowledge about wildlife is incredible.  I love the way he engages the children in their natural world, he makes me want to learn more too.

Little Sparkles

After the tension of the General Election, its been a quiet week, so quiet that some of my links may be quite tenuous this week!   Mr S was busy at work this weekend on a big project so I was on my own with the children, it certainly made me appreciate what a wonderful Dad he is to our children and how involved he is in their lives.  Whilst I enjoyed our time, I missed our family day on Sunday and felt a little lonely without Mr S.



Our library is brilliant in so many ways, the librarians are wonderful they know all the local children’s names, run book activities for all age groups, have lots of subject  knowledge and are so helpful.  One of their inspirational ideas is downstairs in the children’s library where they have a rack of adult books so busy Mums like me can help the children choose their books and get a book themselves too.  I chose this book last Saturday and had finished it by Tuesday night.  Jane Green was one of the original Chick Lit authors, its a term that sometimes is deemed quite derogatory but there are times when you need a light, fluffy story you can lose yourself in.    Saving Grace fitted this need perfectly this week and I thoroughly enjoyed it.



I really need to update my IPod with some new music, I love my music but its all a bit nostalgic at present and I need something new.  This song has been played lots on the radio this week and I love its groove.  My favourite songs are those I can sing and dance loudly to in the kitchen.



I was rather proud of my plans for the weekend, determined to spend quality time with the children I had planned trips to the library and playground, walks among the blue bells etc..  yet I think the time the children enjoyed the most this weekend was unscripted, making a bug hotel in our garden.   I watched as for nearly two hours Little Miss and Little Man created a Bug hotel from the bricks and stones in the garden, they found a few snails to be their guests and then found food too.  I loved their cooperation, communication and ideas, they were so imaginative and creative in making their simple idea a reality.


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I made a presentation at work this week to a key team of education leaders on creating a professional development program for our education staff.  Its something I have been developing for a while and am genuinely enthusiastic about our ideas.  The presentation went well but now its the hard work of writing and delivering, an exciting challenge.



Model from Wallis pages, though I have a very similar pair of shoes

Well the weather has taken a cold turn, its hard to imagine that this time a month ago I was wearing shorts and t shirt.  This week I’ve been wearing my new Wallis cropped trousers.  They are so comfortable and the cut, material and design are perfect.  They have been layered with long sleeves and jumpers but will look equally good with my Summer tops (soon)

Little Sparkles

I’m a day later for the post I try to do on a Thursday, I wrote my General Election post yesterday and intended to write the Little Sparkles post later in the day, possibly whilst up all night and watching the election results (I know how to rock ‘n’ roll)  However there was far too much discussion, analysis and intrigue in the Election to allow for distractions.  So here I am on Friday, tired, a little sad and beginning to put everything into perspective so am writing this as a happy distraction.  Its been a busy week for me personally, but also a week of national events, the new Royal baby, Princess Charlotte, a bank holiday weekend, a General Election and VE commemorations today.



In the last few days I have been reading lots of political analysis and comment in the broadsheet newspapers.  On Wednesday morning I spent a lovely hour or so in a comfy chair in a café, sun streaming through and enjoying a coffee and the papers, a perfect little luxury.  I have also been reading lots and lots of Tweets, Twitter was a fantastic companion to the Election Results night and prior to the results I found the hashtag #Ivoted really quite inspiring and moving to read.

I downloaded a new book to my Kindle this week, Stuffocation by James Wallman.  Its main premise is that happiness is more likely to come from the enjoyment of experiences rather than the accumulation of ‘stuff’  Its an ideal that I agree with, you don’t remember many things you buy but the memories you created doing things you love, delight and comfort you.  I suppose this blog is a record to help me remember those experiences when I am old.  The book came highly recommended and its a very easy and pertinent read.


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A tough category this week as I’ve not been listening to as much music as usual instead I have been tuned into Radio 4 for their news and current affairs broadcasts this week.  As you can see there is a very strong political theme to this post.  However there were some songs from my time in the Brownies and Guides sung at the show on Saturday night and I enjoyed hearing them again and joining in during the audience singalong.  .

Whilst I watched most of my election coverage, I did hear the news that the Shadow Chancellor and Labour MP, Ed Balls had lost his seat whilst driving to work and listening to Today on Radio 4.  James Naughtie is my voice for election night and morning, his passion, enthusiasm, knowledge and wit are mesmerising and nothing beats Radio 4 for atmosphere and comment.


Just a quick mention of the Girl guiding show on Saturday as I wrote a blog on it earlier this week, but it was a thoroughly entertaining evening.

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On Sunday evening, I watched a TV drama The C Word, the true life story of a breast cancer patient, Lisa Lynch and her inspiring story which started as a blog and developed into a leading advice book.  It was an absolutely stunning drama and one of the most remarkable dramas I have watched in a long time.  Sheridan Smith was exceptional in the leading role.

Finally, I watched the Election Results and for someone who normally doesn’t watch much TV its certainly a marathon!  I thought the BBC coverage was poor they seemed to have lots of technical problems, missed declarations and their obsession with their graphics and toys spoilt  the experience. I preferred the Sky production, although often had the sound low and radio on!



In this busy week, there has not been much opportunity to be creative.  However I got some lovely fresh and in season British asparagus which I used in a number of simple recipes.  It was also my turn again to bake cakes for the school cake sale, an unfortunate rota meant the children’s classes were on successive weeks.  I’m afraid it was the same recipe and decoration as last week, just a little bit busy this week to source ingredients for new recipes.


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In this week of special national events, I have been wearing lots of red, white and blue.  This is simply coincidence rather than a patriotic attempt!  For the trip to the theatre on Saturday night I wore a bright red geometric print 50s style skirt with a white broderie blouse.    I rather like twirling in the skirt and seeing it swirl.  Little things …



So its here, Election Day and I am excited!  This morning I took the children to our local polling station to watch me vote.  I explained the process and they even got to help me post the ballot papers into the box.  To me its so important that the children play an active role as citizens and the simplest way they can do this is to vote.  Now my vote is cast its a quiet time, I’m pottering around, trying to catch a few hours sleep until 10pm when the whole craziness starts and I sit glued to the TV, radio and Internet analysing all the results.  As the media continue to point out , this is the most unpredictable election, so I thought I would make my own prediction.  Personally I think the Conservatives will do better than expected (the shy Tories of 1992!) not sufficient numbers for a majority but will lead the next government.  Labour will perform steadily, make some gains from last time but not the seats needed to win the election, the SNP will stop this with many seats in Scotland,  UKIP will take a few seats but not the gains expected.  I also expect the Liberal Democrats to have an awful election and not to be the power brokers in the talks to form a new government. I also think the high profile losses will be theirs.  It will be interesting to see how accurate my prediction is during the night.  In the UK we still have the old fashioned drama of election night and the results announced in the early hours through to breakfast.  I do wonder how long this will continue, it can’t be long before digital voting will give the results just minutes after polls close and a little bit of the magic will have been lost.

I wrote before about the hustings and mainly positive local campaign here.  Sadly the national campaigns are regarded as having being highly stage managed, bland and dull.  The media have been particularly awful too and vitriolic in their attacking of the leaders, Ed Milliband in particular.  Constructive criticism against policies and programs are expected and should be encouraged its the personal attacks which damage our civic society.  One national positive has been the higher profile of female leaders in the election with the SNP, Greens and Plaid Cymru led by women, perhaps a new direction and political approach will emerge.

Its nearly time for the school run now and then the countdown begins,  I am already buzzing with excitement and anticipation!


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Whilst there was general disbelief and shock at the exit poll released at 10pm, I felt it summed up my thoughts on the direction of the General Election and the result has generally reflected the poll.  Personally I am disappointed by the result but it does suggest a shift in British politics, there will be real change in leadership, ethos and policies.  The success of the SNP does show that an involved, interested and determined electorate can enliven politics, the momentum of the independence referendum has continued and the voters are demanding more decision making powers.  The failure of the Liberal Democrats seemed so obvious, they used to have clear policies which they believed, promoted and were easily identifiable.  In coalition these were discarded at alarming speed and now its difficult to determine what they stand for.  What is surprising is that the party still doesn’t recognise this, Paddy Ashdown’s much parodied comment that the poll was rubbish and that he would eat his hat if it were true only emphasises this. Whilst I don’t have sympathy for any policies of UKIP their result does show the inequality of the First past the Post system, gaining 1 seat for their 3.9 million votes, whilst the SNP has 56 seats from 1.5 million votes.  However I doubt that electoral reform will feature prominently in future manifestos of the main political parties.


Finally, I would like to post one final image from the General Election, a timely reminder of the importance of our democratic society.  Yesterday afternoon, shortly after Clegg and Milliband resigned, they both took part in their final duties as leaders of their parties by laying wreaths at the Cenotaph in remembrance of VE day 70 years ago and all those who lost their lives fighting for democracy and freedom.  A poignant image to end the General Election of 2015.


Girl Guiding


This week has been busy with the final rehearsals and performances of the Girl Guiding show which Little Miss has been involved with.  She has loved the show and has been singing and dancing around the house in preparation.  I was looking forward to the show but it affected me far more deeply than I imagined.  On Friday night, at the dress rehearsal I was helping as a chaperone so got to see and hear some of the show early.   When I saw some of the brownies and guides dressed up in the uniforms I used to wear the happy memories just flooded back and when I heard Brownie bells from the side of the stage, such a warm, happy feeling flooded through me. At the show on Saturday it really reaffirmed to me what a valuable organisation Girl Guides is and that it as just as relevant today as a century ago, as the programme notes said ..

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When I saw the older guides on stage, I would be so proud if Little Miss could have their confidence, kindness, spirit and joie de vivre as a teenager.  The Guides instil the values, aspirations and opportunities that we all wish for our children.

As Little Miss will be moving up to Brownies soon,  this afternoon we looked at some of my old photos and I shared some of my memories of Brownies and Guides.  Its exciting to think of all the things she has to look forward to.



My certificate and Brownie Camp, Summer 1983

Postscript – June 8th 2015


So 30 years on from my last badge I received my latest guiding badge when I took Little Miss to Rainbows tonight for my help as a chaperone at the show.  I am so made up and delighted, I wish I still had my guide blanket to add my latest award.  I was more than happy to volunteer but to get a badge has made me ridiculously happy.