So it looks like the messy bit of the kitchen/dining room refurb (the wall smashing bit) might be happening soon. Next up, when we can afford it, will be planning the actual kitchen. But what do I really love? I looked at my Pinterest, and in my cupboards. I wandered around my kitchen, really trying to notice everything, I jotted down any themes, or things that seem to catch my eye frequently. And here’s what I noticed:
The Channel Islands, closer to France than they are the UK, yet a part of Great Britain, are interesting for a number of reasons. There are eight inhabited islands in the archipelago, but tourism is mainly focused on Jersey, Guernsey, Sark, Helm and Alderney. Each island provides a charming, laid back holiday option. The mixture of French and British culture is captivating and the islands have some truly captivating scenery.
Here are a few facts about the islands which are worth knowing before you plan your trip:
Colourful Telephone Boxes and Post Boxes
One sign that you are no longer on the mainland is the presence of the identical classic British telephone and post boxes painted royal blue on the island of Guernsey.
The 1.5 mile long island of Herm has a ban on cars and bicycles. This adds to the quaint unpolluted atmosphere of the place.
Jersey Legal System
Jersey famously has it’s own legal system. With influences from French civil law, English common law and Norman customary law it is an interesting mix which represents the island’s rich history.
The Nazi Occupation
The darkest period of that history would possibly be the wartime years of 1940 to 1945 when the Channel Islands were occupied by the Nazi forces. The islands, demilitarised as deemed without strategic importance, were invaded by German planes which bombed harbours in Guernsey and Jersey. The island’s Jewish population were deported, many of whom died in concentration camps.
Dark Skies Status
Sark celebrated being the first island in the world to be given ‘Dark Sky Status’ in 2011. Visitors to the tiny island can enjoy black skies unimpeded by light pollution to get excellent views of the stars at night. This is great for the island’s tourism industry as visitors now have a reason to visit during the wintry months rather than only when it is warmer.
Residents of Alderney have the questionable privilege of being handed some rather strange nicknames over the island’s history. Traditionally named vaques (after the cows) and also lapins (on account of the many rabbits on the islands) while the ones which the residents assumingly prefer is Ridunians from the islands Latin name Riduna.
Exile in Guernsey: Victor Hugo
One of literature’s most celebrated authors, Victor Hugo made Guernsey his home for 15 years when he was in exile from his homeland. Les Miserables and a host of other famous titles were written during this stay and it is said that you can read his and his lover Juliet Drouet’s initials engraved somewhere in the granite walls of Victoria Tower.
The Channel Islands make for great holiday destinations which do not cost a fortune. UK Breakaways run regular trips to Guernsey and Jersey. Many people also enjoy island-hopping and seeing what the majority of the islands have to offer.
So this is fun – especially if you’re as obsessed by toast as we are. Teenagers seem to have a special affinity with toast and I’ll often pass one of the boys on the stairs carrying a teetering pile of buttered toast (and Marmite, for preference), mentally waving goodbye to yet another plate that could potentially fester in his bedroom until it’s unearthed at my next mucking out session.
Back to toast, though, Breville have joined up with Warburtons to launch a ‘bespoke’ toaster, which is a perfect fit for the Warburton’s Toastie loaf. It’s specially designed (the bread slots are both deeper and wider) to toast the entire piece of bread right up to the top, which means no more flabby strips at the top of your slice of toast.
Breville have even made this lovely video, just in case you’re not 100% clear:
There are two toasters in the range: a 2 slice and a 4 slice, and they actually look really stylish too, with a stainless steel finish, variable browning controls and a very clever ‘lift and look’ facility that means you can have a peep at your toast without cancelling the cycle (which always leads to putting it back in and burning it). Add to this all sorts of defrost/reheat and mid-cycle functions and it’s a pretty good all rounder. Oh, and you don’t HAVE to buy Warburtons if you don’t want to. But then, it’s a perfect fit, so why wouldn’t you?!
This clever toaster is now available at Breville.co.uk and Amazon, priced £34.99 for the 2 slice or £59.99 for the 4 slice. I think they’re quite cool (well, hot!).
Not being one to moan (ahem) I’m trying to remain chipper, but HOW DIFFICULT is it to get a builder to come and do work on your house? Our kitchen/diner plans have completely stalled as the builder we thought was the best one is really busy (and also much more expensive than the others). I understand the whole paying more to get good quality thing, but it seems everyone else does too as he’s rather in demand.
So, Grandad English has a biiiiig birthday coming up. I won’t mention it otherwise I might get one of his customary ALL IN CAPITALS emails (he’s a regular reader). Thoughts have naturally turned to an epic pressie to celebrate the big day – maybe a joint one between us all. And of course, being me, the first thing I thought of was that old thing about life experiences and not things – snapshots, not stuff.
So last night, I was invited to join the great and the good of the cruise industry at Ham Yard Hotel for the CLIA UK & Ireland Cruise Journalism Awards. The CLIA (Cruise Lines International Association) is the main hub of the cruise industry in the UK and Ireland, bringing together cruise lines and travel agents, and basically promoting cruising to the wider population.
I remember one of our very first holidays – to St Lucia – Sam was about three and Charlie was about 9 months old. Little Sam’s legs were just the perfect length to make sure every time he moved, he kicked the seat in front of him. As much as I tried to get him to sit still or distract him, the poor lady in front eventually turned round and gave me a right earful – leaving me in tears. Luckily, things have moved on from those days and you’re more likely now to have a lot more gadgets and technology to keep the kids diverted and make family travel much more stress free than it was 15 years ago (and maybe even encounter some more sympathetic fellow travellers!)
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.
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.
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’.
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.
We LOVE Pancake Day (Shrove Tuesday this year falls on February 17th). Forget dinner, we waive it completely and go straight into pancakes. Of course, in order to do it properly, you’ll need some fantastic equipment. For perfect pancake preparation, here are my recommendations. You’ll need:
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.
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?
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:
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.