Thursday, 31 December 2015

No new year, new me. I am still the person I will always be. 2016, a year of changes but no new me!

Every year people have New Years resolutions and the 'new year, new me' quote gets thrown about all over the place. 

The thing is, there will never be a new me. I can't replace myself because I don't think I'm good enough, thin enough, happy enough, wealthy enough. I can certainly improve my existing life and work on all of those things if I want to but it won't change the person that I am.

I am still Mum of Five whether I am pre Slimming World or post Slimming World! Whether I am happy, sad, rich, poor, fat, thin, tall, short (you know that new years resolution where you say you will be taller for 2016!!!). 

I am still the mum on the school run who looks like she has been dragged through a hedge backwards, the one with a gaggle of children following behind her whilst she looks like a pack horse carrying the school bags. I am still a wife, mum, daughter and friend and do my best in all of those things. Sorry to everyone but there will be no 'new me'! I can't go into a store and buy a new me, I'm not Harrods stock material! 

Here's the thing, as the clock strikes midnight nothing changes. You may be more drunk than you were 5 minutes ago in 2015 but those 'new year, new me' statements don't mean you suddenly change, like Cinderella's coach turning back into a pumpkin but a change for the better like when the Fairy Godmother waved her magic wand and made it into a beautiful coach in the first place. Life isn't a Disney film, unfortunately. 

However, we can certainly reflect on the year that has gone by. A lot of friends have commented saying 2015 has been a corker and they hope 2016 will continue to be just as awesome and we all hope that is the case. Others have said that they enjoyed 2015 but can see improvements on the horizon for 2016, change is good no matter how big or small. 

Improvements in your life is something only you can do, whether it takes just a few weeks of 2016 to change certain aspects of your life or the whole year to make it happen, life isn't a race. Don't feel like you've failed if you reach the end of 2016 and you haven't completed your goals or improved your life or aspects of it as much as you wanted to. Any small changes, new adventures, unexpected events and longer life journeys are all part of what life throws at us but don't wish for a 'new year, new me', be who you always are. 

I can improve my life, I can lose weight if I want to. I can change things if I think they will make me more happy and less stressed. I can do home improvements and change our home for the better but none of that will mean there is a new me. I'm still the same person inside and always will be. The same person who makes people happy and annoys the hell out of others! 

The sky is the limit on what you can achieve this year

Be who you always are complete with a side salad of awesomeness and a dessert sprinkled with happiness.

A dessert sprinkled with happiness!

So farewell 2015, whether you were good, bad, awesome, fun, sad or all of those combined. 2016 may not be bigger and better but it can be what you make of it. 

Wednesday, 9 December 2015

X Factor finalists hit the road and we see 2 out of the 3 finalists. Reggie 'n' Bollie hit Reggie's hometown & Che Chesterman sings at Christmas with the Stars at the Royal Albert Hall.

As the X Factor finalists hit the road to tour the country in anticipation of this weekends grand final, friends and family were lucky enough to see Reggie 'n' Bollie as the place where we live is Reggie's hometown. Then that evening I attended Christmas with the Stars at the Royal Albert Hall and Che Chesterman and Nick Grimshaw hit the stage with Che belting out a fab rendition of Feeling Good.

Reggie 'n' Bollie with their mentor Cheryl Fernandez-Versini

 X Factor fever hit our home town as Reggie and Bollie (and Cheryl) were due to arrive yesterday between 10-2. Lots of people turned out to see the guys and their mentor as they visited and their family did a meet and greet. Everyone who attended loved getting a glimpse of the X Factor finalists as they headed home to thank their fans and their continued support and votes during the competition.

Reggie 'n' Bollie's tour bus

Yesterday evening I had tickets to attend Christmas with the Stars. My parents attend every year and this year they very kindly paid for me to attend too. It was a lovely evening, definitely put me in the festive spirit and it was great to bump into the likes of Dr Dawn Harper and Tom Lister as well as other celebs. The singers and the choir were fantastic as were the orchestra, the Royal Albert Hall is amazing and I loved joining in with the carols.

The amazing Royal Albert Hall

Just after the interval we had a 'surprise' visitor, although not much of a surprise when his huge tour bus was parked outside! Che Chesterman and his mentor Nick Grimshaw hit the stage and he sang amazingly. Again, it was one of his many stops as he too tours the country as part of his tour on his X Factor battle bus.

Che Chesterman performs at Christmas with the Stars

Che Chesterman's tour bus

I wish them both well in the final on Saturday evening as well as Louisa, unfortunately we couldn't make it 3 out of 3 and bump into her too! It looks set to be a great final and whatever happens they have all done so well to get as far as they have in the competition. It was great to see both acts on their tour of the country and to see the support they both have.

Catch the X Factor final on ITV, Saturday 12th December and Sunday 13th December at 8pm.

Review of Tea with Santa at our local Wyevale garden centre, a highly recommended festive experience

A few days ago we took Thing 4 and Thing 5 to visit Santa at our local Wyevale Garden Centre Weybridge. We had never visited this garden centre before but it was very easy to find and the boys were very excited to be having tea with Santa.

We arrived 15 minutes before our booking time and were shown straight to our table by a lovely friendly elf. Each table number was allocated to a family and there was just the right number of people there without it being too busy or overcrowded.

 Our food order had been taken during the booking process so they had a note of everyone's requirements before our arrival. The table was well decorated and the children had a festive colouring sheet and crayons to keep them busy and we all had a cracker to pull too. For the children we had ordered chicken goujons, chips and peas. The chicken was lovely big chunks of chicken breast and there was plenty on each plate. They were served with a bowl of peas and a bowl of beans per table too which was great. All of the children on each table were served first and then that adults got their food. The food came out in good time but we were never rushed over our meals at all and were able to take our time with everything.

We had the festive mini afternoon tea and it was lovely. The turkey, stuffing and cranberry sandwiches were delicious, and we also had a scone with jam and clotted cream and a mince pie. All came out on a three tier cake afternoon tea stand. Everyone was also kept well topped up with squash for the children and hot drinks for the grown ups. The elf was very attentive to everything we needed as well as conversing with all of the children at each table whilst we all had our meals.

After we had finished eating it was time for Santa's arrival. Again, the Elf really got the children involved with making sure Santa arrived. He asked them all if they knew any Christmas songs, what they wanted for Christmas and if they knew the names of Santa's reindeers. All of the children were enjoying themselves and he kept them well engaged whilst Santa made his arrival. There is nothing worse than the children getting restless whilst waiting for Santa, they are all so excited yet the elf made sure he kept them all engaged and happy.

Santa arrived and the children went back to their tables and were called up with their family. Our children were last but they didn't mind as they attentively watched the other children go up and see Santa and tell him what they would like for Christmas. Once it was their turn both Thing 4 and Thing 5 made sure Santa knew what they wanted in time for the big day. A computer game for Thing 4 and some pickled onions for Thing 5, honestly he asked for pickled onions, which caught Santa by surprise for sure! Santa made sure that there would be some elf made pickled onions ready for Christmas!!

Whilst the children were waiting to see Santa they were also given a Christmas tree shaped gingerbread biscuit to decorate which they really enjoyed doing. With chocolate buttons and beans to add on to the tree using buttercream provided they had a great time decorating them and Mummy enjoyed helping too! They had made a mini piping bag with the buttercream on and each child had their own individual plate with everything they needed.

Overall this was a really lovely festive experience. The food was delicious and it was nice to sit with other families and enjoy some festive food before Santa arrived. The Elf (and other staff) were all very attentive and helpful and kept us well stocked with drinks and made sure everything was ok for us. The Santa visit wasn't rushed and they had a lovely chat with the main man. The gifts they received were fab. Thing 4 chose a lovely hidden gems mining kit which he got stuck into as soon as he got home. Thing 5 chose a tub of dinosaurs with a play mat which was a great gift and will be played with for a long time to come.

If you are looking to visit Santa I would highly recommend tea with Santa at Wyevale garden Centres, just go to their website and look up your nearest one and bookings can be made online. At £9.99 for the children and £7.99 for the adults it is definitely well worth the money and was a lovely relaxing evening, the whole experience lasting around 1.5-2 hours in total. 

Disclaimer; We were gifted tickets to see Santa for the purpose of this review, all thoughts and opinions are our own. 

Monday, 7 December 2015

Our Nordmann Fir real Christmas tree from Pines and Needles. Why not visit one of their many locations across the London area or buy online for delivery to your door.

Last week our Christmas tree was delivered from Pines and Needles. A completely different Christmas tree experience compared to years gone by.

Pines and Needles have really opened our eyes to the ease of buying a tree and the quality that can be provided even though we didn't choose the tree ourselves. They have many sites across London where you can go and choose your own tree, something we always have done in previous years. We would spend ages at our local garden centre picking up hundreds of trees to inspect the height, how tall and bushy it was. Was it even on all sides with a good balance of branches all the way up the tree. It would take ages and although it was always a fun family tradition there were times when it all got too much and you thought you would never find the perfect tree.

Our Pines and Needles tree as it arrived and after decoration. 

Along came Pines and Needles. Last week the most perfectly proportioned six foot Nordmann Fir arrived on our doorstep. It was delivered at midday day on the specified date netted and wrapped for transportation. I unwrapped it and got it in the stand straight away and it looked great as soon as it was out of the packaging.

We can't fault the tree that has been delivered. I let it stand until the evening to allow it to fall into place nicely. We found the best spot in the living room for it and I decorated it myself. I've not overdone it with the decorations this year. I've kept it simple yet (hopefully) elegant with keeping to just silver decorations.

The process was so easy, either visiting one of their London locations to choose your own or ordering online if you can't visit. They have a choice of Nordmann Fir or the more traditional Norway Spruce and also lots of heights to choose from too, Having the tree delivered was rally great and although the OH was a bit worried that his tree choosing had been taken out of his hands he was really, really impressed with the tree that arrived from Pines and Needles.

A close up of the branches and our decorations. 

They even offer a whole decorated tree package where you can choose the tree, then the stand, the lights, a decoration pack catered to the size of tree and then it all delivered straight to your door. Also, if you are in the London area you can also have their personal decorators to come to your home or office and do all of the tree decorating for you. The choices from Pines and Needles are fab.

So as the festive season gets well under way and everyone gets their Christmas trees in place and decorated we would definitely very highly recommend Pines and Needles for your real Christmas tree this year.

Prices start from £31.95 for a Norway Spruce and £35.95 for a Nordmann Fir. Trees come in 3 foot to 9 foot then 10-12 foot options with large trees (12 foot and above) available upon request.

Delivery is available on trees up to 9 feet for Nationwide delivery with various different delivery options available and starting at £14.95. 10-12 foot trees are only available for delivery within their London catchment area.

Disclaimer; Our tree was gifted to us by Pines and Needles for the purposes of review, all thoughts and views are our own.