Rise in house prices leaves grown children needing financial support

This is so interesting.  The time when children left home at 18 (like me) to begin a life of their own is over, as rising house prices coupled with the soaring cost of living are forcing adults to remain at home with their parents. Those who do manage to move out often have to rely on support from their parents, facing a lifetime of renting.

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Travel checklist

Planning for a trip is exciting, but that doesn’t mean that it isn’t also stressful. There’s always a lot to remember and the chances are that you’ll have a list of stuff to sort out that’s as long as your arm. But we’re here to help.

Safety is always most important, and it’s vital that you remember to lock up and protect your house as much as possible – coming home to an empty house will definitely ruin any post-holiday wellbeing.

It’s always worth remembering to cancel deliveries, record TV programmes and empty the fridge too – perhaps arrange for a neighbour to pop round and visit, just to make sure that everything stays OK.


 Image courtesy: RickshawTravel.co.uk

Your health should always be in your head and for many people it’s never more important than during trips away. Travel sickness is incredibly common and remembering medications can make things a lot easier.

Be sure to check where you’re going to see if there’s anything you should take, and also be sure to stock up on allergy treatments and things like sun cream if you know you’re going to need them.

Remembering to stock up and making a list of the things you need can save you time, money and, in the case of medication, potentially a lot of discomfort. Hopefully though, if you remember to check our guide you can avoid any bad experiences!


Image courtesy: OnlineClinic.co.uk

Am I missing something important? Which checklist do you follow while travelling? Please let me know in the comments below.


The parenting update – 10 things I’ve learned about parenting teenagers

I think your parenting style changes as your children go through different life stages.  I’ve been thinking recently about how my parenting has evolved as the boys have moved into their older teens.  Our household has always been pretty laid back, but a few wobbles recently have made me fall back upon the rules that I’ve always leant on to give the boys boundaries.  Here are my current thoughts on my very own ‘best practice’.

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First glimpse

My Disney Dream diary part one – Disney’s Yacht Club Resort

Oh, the Disney Dream.  The delightful, delicious, delovely, delectable Disney Dream.  Regular readers will know that I adore all the Disney Cruise Line ships, but there’s something about Disney Dream in particular that makes my heart sing. I think it’s because my first ever Disney Cruise was on board the Disney Dream.  I just love everything about it – the restaurants, the fabulous AquaDuck water coaster, the gorgeous restaurants, the gorgeous cocktail bars, the sumptuous spa…  So, if you’ve ever wondered what a cruise holiday on board a Disney Cruise Line ship is like, wonder no more.  Sam (my oldest son) and I kept a diary during our cruise trip last week, and here’s part one.

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My savings past, present and future

I’ve never been good with money.  It’s one of the things we’ve tried really hard to talk to the boys about because (and I know you’re not supposed to do this but, hey…) I don’t want them to make the same mistakes we made.

We were married with a child by the time I was 25 and, back then, it was pretty easy to buy a house with two incomes.  It makes me realise just how lucky we were.  My parents were generous with their help and by the time Charlie came along, we’d moved into a bigger house that needed some work and were slowly doing it up.

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Seven Seas Perfect7

On test: Seven Seas new Perfect7 – the results!

So before Christmas, I told you that I was going to be trying out Seven Seas new Perfect7 Woman – it’s a blend of Omega-3 rich marine oils, and vitamins and minerals especially formulated to provide benefits for women in 7 key areas such as skin, nails and air, as well as supporting hormonal activity, brain function, vision and heart health.  So how did I get on?

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The cable car to the summit of Mt Teide

My top five Canary Island experiences

If you’re planning a family holiday this year, you can’t go very far wrong with the Canary Islands.  The climate is beautiful year-round, and around this little archipelago just off the south west coast of Morocco, there’s a holiday, and a hotel, to suit you. Whether you’re looking for peace and quiet, or for a bustling party destination, there really is something for everyone.  Here are my top five Canary Island experiences:

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Rosie serving bowl, Anthropologie

Wishlist: kitchen luxe

Happy Monday! Hope yours is going well.  I spent most of the weekend dreaming and drawing and planning (oh and making yummy barbecue pulled chicken too). We’ve been working and saving really hard for our upcoming kitchen refurb and it’s lovely to think that this is the year that we’ll actually be able to start making our dreams become a reality.  I spend so much time in the kitchen, it’s one of the places that I’m really looking forward to starting work on.  We want to knock the wall down between the kitchen and the dining room to recreate a larger, more sociable space – something that really hit home to me during our New Year’s Eve party, when I was stuck at the sink clearing plates between courses, listening to everyone having fun in the next room.

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Disney Dream

Gorgeous new luxe foodie experiences on board with Disney Cruise Line

As regular readers will know, I’m a huge fan of Disney Cruise Line. DCL’s fleet comprises four beautiful ships: the first, the recently reimagined Disney Magic, originally set sail in 1998, closely followed by Disney Wonder in 1999, both with the capacity to welcome 2700 guests on board.  Then DCL launched two larger ships, Disney Dream in 2011 (my first, and favourite – with the incredible ‘AquaDuck’ – the world’s first ‘watercoaster’ at sea), and the Disney Fantasy in 2012, both longer than the Eiffel Tower is tall, and with a maximum occupancy of 4000 passengers.

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Mechoui lamb

New year, new plans

Happy New Year!  I hope you had a lovely evening with your friends and family (or indeed a quiet one at home).  We had family round and did a huge Middle Eastern feast, with slow roasted Mechoui lamb, minted yogurt, harissa and sweet chilli jam, all stuffed into warmed pittas with red cabbage and salad. So yummy and a great way to feed a crowd.

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M&S mini Christmas pudding cakes

Party food from Marks and Spencer

My children love our weird dinners (not).  The other night, we were testing Marks and Spencer’s new range of party food.  Their dinner was entirely made up of canapés, which although seems very posh, is actually quite strange.  The good news is, though, that the party food is REALLY good, so we didn’t mind at all.  And we thought it would be even better if you actually used it all as intended, y’know, for parties…

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Hot toddy

The Big Christmas Gift Guide: perfect pressies for pets!

I couldn’t finish off my gift guides without giving a little nod to our furry friends.  It’s been a bit sad at English Towers since little Ninja passed away.  I miss being attacked on the stairs, and slowly but surely the random white hairs are appearing less and less on everything I iron.  Soon I won’t be cursing as I pick them off every item of clothing – and what will I do then?

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Multi fuel stove

More house news and wood burning stoves

So another thing that I’ve been thinking a lot about on the house front is having a fire.  At the moment we have rather an ugly ten year old gas fire.  It’s not pretty, it smells a bit funny and it’s a long way from the crackling log fire that I dream about.  The question is, what to do with it? Our first plan was just to rip it out, give us a bit more room in the lounge and be done with it, but then we started looking at fireplaces and stoves and it seems we do have some options.

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Radical Skincare

English Mum’s Big Christmas Gift Guide: pampering pressies!

As a mum (and I speak from experience here), there’s nothing nicer than opening a pressie containing lovely pampering stuff that you might think twice about splashing out on yourself.

In this Big Christmas Gift Guide, I’ve brought together a few lovely treats that will make you, your mum/your wife/your sister feel fabulous, because, hey, they deserve it.

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Lyra and Chas bed

House news – and teenage bedrooms

So things on the house front have moved on AGAIN.  After the third house purchase fell through, I’ve got to be honest, we were pretty despondent.  I’ve never heard of it happening before, but the last one got right to survey and then the survey came in 20k under budget.  Anyone else had any experience of that?

Anyhoo, it’s all change again, because we think we’ve found the perfect house – the one we’re already in!  We’ve got some lovely plans to do the place up – with a spacious kitchen diner instead of our poky kitchen and separate dining room  (more of this later, but my Pinterest page is burgeoning) and new floors and even bathrooms when funds permit.

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Seven Seas Perfect7

On test: Seven Seas new Perfect7 Woman

Ageing’s a weird thing.  It kind of creeps up on you and then BAM! suddenly there’s a wrinkle you never saw before, or you start to notice your neck looking weird in photos if your head’s not quite at the right level, or you have to hold the book a little far away to get the letters in focus (obviously none of these have actually happened to me. Cough).  Mr E is older than me so we always had a bit of banter about him being the old and crinkly one, but recently, I’ve been noticing a few of these little tell-tale signs, and although I won’t be rushing off to get Botox or Spanx or anything, I want to take care of myself as much as I can.

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Sprouts: yum

My top five Christmas dinner hacks

So you might be one of those people that LOVES cooking for people at Christmas (like me) or you might be one who dreads it every year.  Either way, the best way to get through that dinner is to cheat as much as possible.  Here are my top five Christmas dinner hacks to give you more time with your family and friends, and less time at the oven and sink on the big day.

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Luckies of London laptop case

English Mum’s Big Christmas Gift Guide – top treats for teens!

I think teenagers are some of the most difficult people to buy pressies for (difficult all round, but that’s for another day haha).  Thinking creatively about their presents, aside from the never ending list of PS4/Xbox related things occupies quite a lot of my time before Christmas, so I thought I’d share a couple of lovely present ideas with you.

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The Sloane

A Christmas tradition: the Harrods hamper

There’s something delightfully festive about a Harrods Hamper.  Seeing as we’re all getting into the Christmas spirit here at English Towers, I was very excited when Harrods offered us the chance to try one out.  We chose ‘The Sloane‘, and it arrived (you can track your order online, and it arrives within 3-5 working days) well protected and carefully packaged.  The hamper, a glossy square dark brown cane basket with a faux leather embossed lid is huge – rather over huge, if I’m honest, for its contents, which I’d probably describe as all the ingredients for the poshest afternoon tea you’ve had in your entire existence.

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Bobbi Brown at Macy's UTC

The UK does Macy’s – the new Macy’s at UTC Sarasota

So next on our wonderful trip to Florida, we hopped back into our amazing Mustang and headed down to Sarasota, to the brand new Mall at University Town Centre (UTC for short).  The brand new Macy’s there is utterly fantastic, and very state of the art.  We joined store manager Kerry Yelle for a tour of the store.  She’s understandably pretty proud of the place and pointed out several really cool features that are unique to this ‘smart store’.  The lighting, for example, has been designed to be sustainable and the lamps don’t need replacing, plus the changing rooms have lights that only come on when you enter, to save energy.

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Toothpick – a new way to find a dentist

If you want to go out for dinner, or stay in a hotel, there are loads of different websites with tons of reviews, so you can see whether the staff were friendly, or whether the food was good.  This approach is starting to take hold in other industries too.  I recently found a new hairdresser by searching online and was able to read reviews of local hairdressers and even pick the particular stylist that I thought would best suit me.

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