February half term


Of all the school holidays in the year, I find the February half term an odd one, it’s not a holiday when a lot happens and pre children it was simply spent pottering and relaxing whilst Mr S worked.  Our half term this year was one full of simple pleasures, there was no big day out or special event just local activities.  The weather was pretty awful, so cold and wet and this affected our plans too.

As Mr S wanted to decorate our bedroom, I took the children away to my parents for a couple of days at the beginning of the week to give him some time to do the job without distractions.  I had great plans and was very excited to have been able to organise for my parents to take the children out so I could visit the big shopping mall with a long list of shopping.  Unfortunately I had a horrendous migraine for the days we were at my parents and spent the two days in a darkened room alternating between being sick and sleeping, so not quite my anticipated visit but a lot cheaper!  The children loved the day out I had planned for them in Bristol as they got to visit the local Air Hop and try out all the trampolines and rides.

We were back at home for a pancake tea and it was nice to have Shrove Tuesday fall in the holidays as it was more relaxed and fun.  I did take the traditional toss a pancake photos, I have one every year of the children and they’ve become one of those measures of the children growing up.

Ash Wednesday was also Valentine’s Day this year.  For personal reasons I find it a tough day so whilst Mr S and I do exchange cards and a little gift, we don’t really do anything lovey dovey on this day.  The weather was so awful we spent the morning watching the children skoot around in an indoor skate park and then drove out to a pub for a lazy lunch en famille.

Thankfully Thursday was a gorgeous day, the best of the week with bright blue skies and warm sunshine.  We ended up on the beach and met lots of friends who had the same idea too.  The trip to the beach was one of the highlights of this holiday, watching the children skimming stones with their friends, running up and down the beach and laughing.  I have a lovely photo of a whole gang of children balanced on the groyne, the bright colours of their wellies beautifully contrasting the blue skies.  Simple pleasures can be the the best.

On Friday we had a few jobs to do over in big town and whilst they were not the most fun for the children we stopped off at the country park on the way home to run off some energy and explore the woods and fields.  I do find my children need a good walk or exercise every day to keep them more relaxed and calm.

Whilst most of our week was spent together, I did take both children alone on a mummy date each to a local cafe.  Both really appreciated this time together and I learnt a lot of how they’re feeling about things.  It’s surprising how chatty the children can be with cake and a hot chocolate!

Although half term was quiet and full of little trips, it was relaxing in it’s own way.  Sometimes you just need to stop and enjoy the little things, a trip to the beach, a walk in the park or a homemade cake in a cafe.



A bedroom make over


Last week, we undertook a little house project and decorated our bedroom.  Its long overdue and to be honest the room has been a little neglected over the years.  It had become a very functional room, simply to sleep and get dressed in and very little else.  It simply didn’t convey warmth and cosiness and we spent very little time in it.  However we decided it was time to make it into something special and a little haven for us.

Whilst we have redecorated and bought new soft furnishings and carpet, I think one of the biggest changes was decluttering the room, we have recycled and thrown away lots of clothes and ‘things’ which were hidden away in drawers.  Its has felt rather cleansing to do this and the room does feel light and airy.

Although we have tidied the room, I also like that I now have on display some things which have always been very special to me and hidden away.  I love Rennie McIntosh and bought the McIntosh inspired mirror about 25 years ago on a trip to Glasgow.  Its one of those accessories which has followed me to every house I’ve lived in and now it colour coordinates in our room beautifully.  On my bedside table I also have this little bud vase in Bath Aqua Glass, I was gifted a beautiful collection of this glassware when I left my school in Bristol and again I love that something which has so many happy memories is now at the heart of my room.  To me it is not simply about colour coordination but a warmth and aura created by special objects.  I love the William Morris quote to not have anything neither useful or beautiful in your home.


In choosing the colours for our new room, I based it around our new duvet cover from Dunelm!  I like the grey and the complementary colours so our new carpet and curtains are dark grey and the walls are painted in Dulux Blush pink with teal soft furnishings.  My final touch will be a mustard yellow cushion to finish off the bed and bring all the colours together.  Its a simple look but one which I hope will be easy to update regularly over the years.

We are both so pleased with our new bedroom, its a room where we now want to spend time and relax, its clean, tidy and warm and hopefully reflects us.

#ecosparkles2018 : Week 7 : Public Transport


This week’s ecosparkles is about trying to adopt a commitment to public transport and the limitations living in a small rural town.  Whilst I have a car, my weekly mileage is very low, sometimes less than 10 miles a week, our town is small and we live centrally where everything is near and walkable.  When I do drive, I am rarely alone in my car, as I’m either with the children or on my commute I share the journey with a colleague.  I have my car for when I need to go to big town, a 50 mile round journey or to visit friends and family in other parts of the country.  As its been half term this week I have done one of my long journeys and decided to compare the costs.

This week I calculated that to go from our small town, not on the mainline train network to the train station nearest to my parents would have involved a walk, a bus journey and 4 changes on the train making it approximately a 6 hour journey, costing £51.85 for myself and the two children (we have a family rail card)

The same journey in my car, a small eco friendly model, (roughly the model in the calculator below) for 196 miles (return journey) would have cost £16.20, door to door.  It is unsurprising that given the cost and convenience I opted for the car journey.


I also decided to calculate my CO2 omission for these two journeys to see if there was a considerable difference, however, both journeys worked out at 0.05 tonnes.

Before moving to our small town, I lived in a large city and public transport was key to travelling.  It was reasonable, reliable and regular and we used it, I think this is common in most large cities and towns.   There are times when living in a small town can feel quite isolating and transport is one of the significant issues.  We have two bus routes which serve our town and both are hourly, it takes more than an hour to travel to the nearest town and to the decent shopping town, ninety minutes.  In bad weather, the services are often suspended and in high tourist season, the buses are very popular and you have to be early to get a place.  The cost of the journey is high.  In the journey I calculated the return journey on bus of approx. 24 miles would have cost for 1 adult and 2 children, £17.40, the train stage of approx. 174 miles was £34.45, thus the bus is 72.5p a mile, the train less than 20p a mile and the car 8p.

As a family, we like travelling by train and we have a nice route which takes us to a number of resorts and shopping towns, from our nearest station we can even get to London on a direct train! We do have a family railcard and do enjoy little days out on the train, driving the 12 miles to the station and using the car park, before hopping on the train.  However we rarely use the bus for its price and poor timetabling.  Even in this challenge to try and make our family life more ecological friendly, I can’t make the full switch to public transport yet.

Whilst I’m not able to commit to public transport, I would like to offer a few suggestions on how I would be more open to using the bus.  Firstly, fares need to be so much cheaper to make them family friendly.  The routes could be streamlined, our buses go to every village, with a double decker winding round country lanes, why not have smaller buses more frequently, offering direct services to towns and a separate stop all service too for those wishing a more scenic journey.  The sadness with the trains is that we used to have a thriving train station in town, but it was one closed after the Beeching report in the 1960s.

Despite my reservations about public transport, I am trying to minimise car journeys this year and to try and share such journeys.  I have a small car and would love to look into a more eco friendly car in the future (electric?), however my car’s emissions are low enough for me not to have to pay car tax and it is economical, so I like to think it has some green credentials.

Public transport can be so good and efficient, its just sad that many small towns and villages are poorly served by such services and that there is a genuine need for a car. There does need to be more commitment to rural communities in transport infrastructure planning.






#ecosparkles2018 : Week 6

I was thinking this week that some of this project is not about doing but not doing.  For example, I love glossy magazines but I started to think about the energy costs involved for what these days sometimes seems to be adverts and not quality pieces.  It occurred to me that blogs are filling that void with interesting, relevant posts and do I need to have the magazines?  So one of my eco activities has been not to buy any of this month’s glossy magazines.  When I was in town last week I found myself really questioning my need for products, I bought what I needed but didn’t succumb to any other purchases.  Here are more of my ecosparkles this week .

  1. This week I have been looking at seasonal foods, rather than choose a recipe and then go shopping I did it the other way.  I chose seasonal vegetables and then looked up a recipe in my cookery bible, Good Housekeeping.  The parsnip and potato rosti was gorgeous, who would have thought of nutmeg with those vegetables?  I’ve also bought this poster to display in my kitchen to promote seasonal eating.  https://www.lizcookcharts.co.uk/seasonal-uk-fruit-and-vegetable-chart.html
  2. It was time to tidy up this week and I took all the out of date and used medicines to the chemist to be disposed of safely and not harm our environment in landfill.
  3. I have been looking at food packaging carefully.  We have lots of small independent shops in our town who do use paper bags and I always try to use these shops.  Sadly there is no independent grocer and no food market until Easter so vegetables and fruit can be quite packaged in the supermarket.  I’m finding myself frustrated with trying to prepare a green lunch, my pleas to return the tin foil have varied results.   However I have found these beeswax sandwich covers to try. https://www.asliceofgreen.co.uk/food-wraps-and-bags/robots-large-baggie.html

Creating Childhood Memories

The above is from a tweet which went viral this week and which I have thought about a lot.  I think its simplicity in a digital world is a poignant reminder of what is important to our children.  It also reminded me that it is not material possessions which are remembered but a feeling of being loved, involved and belonging.

I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about what makes my children happy, its always the simple things, playing at the skate park or on the beach, baking cakes and licking the bowl, having a movie afternoon cuddled up on the sofa, a kick around in the garden.  It is often about just being in the moment and doing something as a family or with friends.

Before I became a mum, I knew the type of mum I wanted to be, most of it based on the opposite to my own childhood, which whilst not unhappy was quite chaotic.  I wanted to be a present mum, happy in myself and happy being mum.

When we realised that we would become parents through adoption, I understood through my professional background the importance of secure attachment.  We have worked hard to create a secure feeling for our children. Whilst I recognise how lucky we are to be able to do what we have done, thanks to understanding bosses, reassessing our priorities etc.. our family has always been at the heart of all our decisions.  Its been a journey of trial and error but we now both work part time to ensure that one of us is always there for the school runs, we’re always early so the children never have to fear being left behind and at least one of us is always there for every concert, assembly, sports day, nativity etc.. to wave and encourage.  At home, we always sit down to meals together where we talk,  we make plans as a family and plot it on our calendar, we constantly reassure the children that we are their forever family and that they will always have a home with us even when we’re doddery, old pensioners.  There are so many other little things we do too, all we want is for our children to have that indescribable feeling of being, loved, wanted and belonging.

When I look at the second tweet, I’m quite proud that actually the children do a lot of what’s on the list.  I hope we set an example of being kind to not just friends and family but to all.  We read books; even at nearly 9 and 10 years old, we always read a story to the children every night and I really don’t ever want to stop this.  We spend a lot of time together as a family, but also have started to allow the children more independence (scary but essential)  Fortunately living at the seaside we’re at the beach a lot, there is nothing quite like collecting the children from school and walking to the beach until early evening, its like a mini holiday on a school day!  There’s also a lot of ice cream shops at the seaside so I think we can confidently tick that one off too.

I hope my children will look back to their childhood with happy memories of sunny days on the beach, ice creams, dancing with mummy in the kitchen, helping daddy  in the garden and many family adventures.



#ecosparkles2018 : Weeks 4 and 5

image_53930009774866Its been a busy few weeks and I haven’t been able to develop this little project as I would have hoped to.  I’m hoping to do some research on topics relevant to my lifestyle to see how I can make life more eco friendly. Despite the busyness, I have been continuing with the project and here are some of the things I’ve done.

  1. I’ve been to collect my new food caddies.  Our old ones were damaged and unable to be used, so I ordered new ones online and am now saving my food waste again.  I also got a battery recycling bag and lots of leaflets and advice on how to recycle more.
  2. Mr S has been making some new raised beds for growing vegetables and I have helped prepare them.  He has done most of the work, but I did help line them and move them into position in the garden.  We also borrowed a wheel barrow from a neighbour to move the soil rather than go and buy a new one for this job.  Sharing is caring!
  3. Disposable cups used : 0    The most difficult aspect of this is not take away drinks but the water fountain at work with its plastic cups.
  4. Plastic bags purchased : 0   I am being really good at remembering to always have bags in my bag and being prepared for my trip.

I think my focus for the next few weeks is looking at the seasonal foods for February and using less food packaging.  Happy eco living.


#18for2018 : Bake a soufflé


At the end of December, I listened to a podcast by Gretchen Rubin, author of the Happiness Project.  Her subject was about creating a #18for2018 and encouraging her audience to create a list of 18 things to do in 2018 to make them happy.  Its not resolutions but simply tasks to make you happy, it could be finally ticking off something mundane but essential that you keep putting off, or trying something exciting and new.  I created my list and this month have been mainly planning as many are summer based activities.  Its not just been research as I have booked tickets to see Wicked in October for number 8, have dates for the kayaking course and have bought some new make up this month.  For me, the list is not simply about doing something but getting the buzz and satisfaction of planning and looking forward.

I decided that I wanted to complete at least one item fully in January so took one of the easier tasks and chose to bake a soufflé.  First of all it might seem quite a random task, but to me a soufflé is always one of those dishes spoken about in revered tones, something seemingly quite technical with the potential to go wrong (dramatically)  I love being in the kitchen and experimenting with new dishes, I can do pies from scratch, mix delicate flavours, cook a risotto just so but the confidence to bake a soufflé had always eluded me.

I am one of those people who likes to be prepared, so I researched a number of different recipes to see the different ways in which to make a soufflé.  I read some advice and got some handy hints to stop the disasters, I quickly learnt that the number 1 rule was not to open the oven during the cooking.   I chose to make the soufflé as a Saturday evening meal, as the afternoons are normally pretty relaxed at home, giving me the time to potter in the kitchen, to listen to the radio and be relaxed.  To me this is part of the project too, creating a happy place whilst you complete the task.  The soufflé itself was pretty easy to prepare, I am all for dividing a recipe into little stages.  The bit I was dreading most was whisking the egg whites to a perfect state and then combining with the remaining ingredients.  Fortunately, this went smoothly and there was a real sensory delight in seeing the transformation from egg white to white soft peaks.  I was exceptionally good at not opening the oven, despite the temptation and I was delighted with the result, the soufflé rose and stayed risen until served.  It was delicious, a soft, light main with green vegetables, even my most hardened food critic and picky eater enjoyed it.

My soufflé did give me a happy vibe, I enjoyed browsing my cookbooks for a recipe, being in my kitchen and baking a meal which my family enjoyed.  Some times the simplest tasks bring a simple happiness and joy.