Frugi Adventure Print Coat #FrugiFamily

Since becoming part of the Frugi Family we've been so lucky to receive some really lovely items from their various ranges.
With the new A/W range recently launched we were asked to choose an item going along the theme of 'school days and/or field trips'.
With Harry now being a full time school boy, and Charles still being able to wear his Frugi Explorer coat from last year, I already knew what I was looking for.

The Frugi Adventure Print coat is perfect for Dinosaur mad children (I say children because I don't think this would look out of place on a girl too!) and the camouflage print makes it a little different to other dinosaur themed coats on the market.

This coat is made with a showerproof outer fabric, cosy inner wadding and soft fleece lining. And is also made from 100% recycled fibres.
It features the reflective stars, which are also on Charles' Frugi Explorer coat, as well as a Diplodocus on the zip which is a lovely little detail which I think I appreciated just as much as Harry!

The Adventure Print coat retails for £46 and is available in sizes 2-3 up to 9-10. 

Check out Edspire, to see what lovely Jennie chose for her children from the new Frugi range.



The Wrong Image

I always thought that one of the "best things" about me was my honesty. Maybe sometimes I am too honest? Too open? Too personal?
I don't have a problem sharing my feelings, my thoughts, and so on, as long as it doesn't hurt anyone.

And this year my mind set has changed massively. I've gone from someone who would be incredibly negative to someone who is happier than she has been in a while.
My thoughts have gone from being negative to mostly being positive, although of course negativity pops up in some circumstances but overall, I'd like to think my head is in a better place than it ever has been.

But the last week or so, I've wondered if this is the case? Or if maybe I need to show that side of me more in real life, to make more of an effort to show others that this is who I am?

Am I not showing this enough? Do I make myself out to be negative, and dishonest?
Does holding back feelings and not wanting to spill out everything really mean I am dishonest?
Does not wanting to get my hopes up and not wanting to feel let down make me a negative person?

One thing I would hate to be in life is one of those people who drains everyone else's energy. Or someone who is seen as being negative.
And I can't help but to feel slightly gutted and disappointed that I've made myself come across that way.

I'm not that person. If anything, in recent weeks I've been a lot more positive than expected for someone in my "situation".

But once someone has this image of you, how do you change that?
How do you try to show them the real you, to prove the person you really are, without them thinking you are backtracking, or changing to impress them? How do you prove to them that they have got you wrong? And that you are better than the person they assume that you are?


Jamie's Italian, The Royal Arcade Norwich | Review

I remember when I was little we went on a caravan holiday to Kent. We walked into the town centre and decided to have dinner. My dad and brother wanted to visit a certain fried chicken place and I fancied visiting a cute little Italian restaurant. So we split up and my mum and I had a lovely authentic dinner. I remember the place so well and I guess this confirmed and started my love of Italian food.

I've always preferred pasta and those proper Italian pizzas to any other food....well...Greek food is a close second but Italian is my passion.

In 2012 Jamie's Italian was opened in The Royal Arcade in Norwich. This is a beautiful location, and although in the main city centre, in the perfect location amongst all of the shops, is down a back street so you can avoid seeing the hustle and bustle of busy shoppers and city workers.

I was recently contacted to visit Jamie's Italian Norwich, which was rather exciting as I hadn't yet managed to visit! Which is quite shameful given how long it has been open.
My mum had a week off work so we planned a girly lunch, along with a mini shopping spree because it would be rude not to!

When it comes to parking there are lots of options in Norwich, however if visiting Jamie's Italian I would recommend parking in either the Castle Mall car park or at The Forum. These are both cheaper options and the Castle Mall car park is pretty much guaranteed to have spaces.

Before visiting I assumed that the restaurant was only small and was only on the ground floor. That was until we went in and were lead up some stairs to a beautiful room perfectly laid out with a variety of tables and chairs to suit any number of guests.

We were seated near the window, which was lovely as we do like to people watch and the light was perfect for a lunch date.

I'm always quite big on customer service and I think how you are greeted when you enter a restaurant is just as important as the quality of the food.
The staff could not be faulted at all. If only I was on the ball enough to have got their names!
As we entered we were greeted by a female member of staff who walked us upstairs to our table. Not only did she make us feel welcome but she took her time to talk to us as she walked us to our table and as we sat she explained that this was the first day of their new menu. This wasn't something I, or the PR, had planned and was quite by chance. She explained that the staff had all had a taster of the new menu the previous night and that they were all really excited about it.
Our waitor then came over and told us of the specials and what I particularly liked about this was that he didn't just list them, he went into detail about how each dish was cooked and again, he was passionate about it. You could tell that it was genuine passion too, and at the end of the meal I had a really lovely conversation with this gentleman (I really wish I had got his name!) as he talked to me about the menu, how the menus are different depending on which restaurant you visit, and also about how this is the first time that the menu in the restaurant has worked alongside the release of one of Jamie's recipe books.

So, should we get down to what we ordered?

For drinks, although tempted to order a glass of wine, we instead ordered the homemade lemonade. We had a regular homemade lemonade and also a special pink lemonade. My mum preferred the pink lemonade and I went for the regular lemonade which was...hardly surprising but still....very strong. I find this perfect with an Italian meal because I feel like it cleanses the palette and also reminds me of Limoncello...which is never a bad thing hey?!


ITALIAN NACHOS Crispy fried ravioli stuffed with mozzarella, ricotta & Bella Lodi, served with spicy Sicilian tomato sauce
SPICY MEATBALL BRUSCHETTA Free-range pork & fennel meatballs in a fiery ‘nduja tomato sauce with lemony rocket & Parmesan


BAKED CRESPELLE Spinach, Westcombe ricotta & basil baked in gluten-free buckwheat pancakes with smoked mozzarella, sweet buttery leeks, Sicilian tomato sauce & Parmesan    

PENNE CARBONARA Crispy chunks of smoked pancetta, sweet buttery leeks, lemon & a traditional carbonara sauce





TIRAMISU The classic Italian dessert topped with chocolate shavings & orange zest 
WARM SOUR CHERRY FRANGIPANE Whipped mascarpone, crushed amaretti & fresh mint tips

I have a bit of a thing for Nachos. If they are on a menu then I have to have them...so give me the option of an Italian version and BOOM! I'm in heaven. The Italian Nachos were honestly, incredible. Crispy on the outside with a soft cheesy filling, these were a great alternative to the 'crisp style' nachos you are served elsewhere. The chilli dip was also a perfect accompaniment.

I think what we both liked most about our meals was that, alongside being fresh and full of flavour, we didn't feel uncomfortably full and bloated like you can do after a meal with carbs! Let's face it, when you are then going shopping and potentially trying on quite fitted tops and dresses the last thing you want is to be bloated!
My mum ordered the Carbonara and was impressed at being able to order a smaller portion, especially when it arrived and was an impressive size any!
The chilli fries were a nice alternative to normal fries, although a little tip, try and mix them up a bit as we found a lot of the chilli coating had dropped to the bottom of the pot it was served in.

We couldn't fault our visit at all, and plan to visit again one evening so we can also try out the cocktails.

If you are ever in Norwich I highly recommend giving Jamie's Italian a visit...you won't be disappointed.
(It's also right near Joules so, perfect hey?!)


Getting baby ready for winter

When autumn leaves begin to crunch underfoot, one can be certain that those leaves will, before long, be replaced by the crunch of snow.  As the cold weather approaches, preparations for keeping Old Man Winter at bay.  This includes getting the littlest members of your family.  Here are some tips for getting baby ready for winter.
At home:
Because heat rises and babies spend a good amount of time playing on the floor, it’s important to ensure that baby is dressed warmly, even in the house during winter.  Also, always ensure their little feet are covered in warm socks and/or baby slippers to keep their feet from getting cold during tummy time on the floor.
As a safety measure, cover heaters and always supervise babies and young children when they are in a room with radiators, space heaters, wood-burning stoves or fireplaces.  It only takes a moment for a child to burn himself, so an ounce of precaution is never a bad thing.
After a bath, your baby can easily get a chill in the winter.  To avoid that, be sure you have a cozy towel and warm pyjamas at the ready.  Dry them off right away and put them in their cozy clothes as soon as possible, to keep them warm.
When it comes to sleeping, don’t be tempted to pile blankets on your child in his crib.  This can pose serious risks.  Instead, invest in a sleep sack, which is essentially a wearable sack, to keep your baby warm.
Going out:
When it comes to dressing baby to go out in the winter, avoid bulky winter jackets for winter clothing.  Thick, bulky jackets pose a safety threat to your child because they prevent the car seat harness from fitting snugly enough to keep the child safe.  Instead, dress baby in warm layers topped off with a fleece jacket and cover him with a cozy blanket once he is strapped into the car seat.  
It’s also important to keep baby’s head covered during the colder months.  The body loses a large amount of its heat through the head, so keeping the head covered is one of the best ways to ensure that baby doesn’t get cold.  A baby’s winter hat should fit snugly enough to stay on, but not too tight.  Remember, baby’s heads are delicate!  
You may not think of this when considering how to keep baby warm in the winter, but a remote starter for your car is a great investment if you have a baby in the family.  It’s much better to bring baby from a warm house to a warm car than having to wait for the frigid car to warm up.  Having the car already warmed up in advance also eliminates the need to bundle baby up as much.  
When you go from the cold outdoors to an indoor setting, be sure to remove some of baby’s layers, including his hat.  This will prevent baby from overheating once he is in a warmer environment.


A Cuddle

It's all a bit odd at the moment. Life is.
I know I've made the right decision for me, for him, for our families and for the children.
I suppose in terms of my social life not a lot has changed yet really, other than being able to go out and not feel like I have to ask permission or to feel guilty at not being at home with my husband when instead I'm out with friends. 

I've had enough distractions I suppose to keep me away from what is going on and to keep my mind balanced I suppose.
When things have been a certain way for so long it isn't really a shock to be going through what we are and will be going through. 
It wasn't sudden or unexpected. We're basically able to live as we have been because for a while we haven't lived as a married couple should. 

I lived with it because it felt kind of like I had to. Did I really want a "failed marriage"? But, could I live my life any more with the way things were? Pretending it was OK that we didn't hug or cuddle or even hold hands anymore.
I was OK with it for a while, because I got used to it I suppose. It gradually got to that point so I didn't miss those things as such.

However in the last few months it didn't seem fair on either of us to live like this anymore. I couldn't help but to think that, whilst at the end of my 20's at the time, I was too young to almost throw my life away and to not have affection or attention until the day I die.

I've always enjoyed a harmless flirt. I don't see anything wrong with innocent flirting whatsoever, it's part of my nature I suppose. But then I came to the realisation that maybe one day a harmless flirt could turn into someone being interested in me. Someone wanting to give me those things that had been missing from my marriage. I'm not talking about commitment, more the affection and just being made to feel....nice. To feel pretty, and appreciated. 

It had me wondering what I then wanted. Was my marriage perfect in every other way that I could live without that other stuff?
And, it wasn't. We had grown apart, we had different interests, priorities, and had lost that connection and spark that had kept us together for over 10 years.
It felt unfair for both of us to keep living like that. Not only were we being unfair on each other, but on ourselves too.

I couldn't help but to think that it was unfair of me to deny any attention from someone else if I got it, because I felt I kind of deserve that. Everyone deserves attention, and although I didn't feel like I needed it or missed it, I did find myself recently whether or not it was something I could live without "forever".

I'm an affectionate girl. I like a cuddle, I like a hug, I like an arm round my shoulder or my waist. And the more I thought about that, and thought about what I would be missing out on, the more I realised that life just wasn't right for us at all.

And so the decision was made. A weight was lifted for us both I think, for me at least.
And I did almost have this feeling of freedom. Knowing that innocent flirts were ok IF they were to become anything more. 

However, since making that decision it's almost like I am craving a cuddle.
Just a cuddle.
Not a hug.
But a cuddle. One where strong arms almost kind of sweep you up and pull you in close.
You know the ones, which make you feel so small and protected. The ones that make you feel comforted, where your head rests on their chest and every now and then they pull you in a little tighter, like a small, gentle, squeeze, letting you know that they are enjoying being close to you too. 

That's all I crave and want now.
An affectionate cuddle.
And just a little bit of attention, and appreciation.



Being Irrational and a Walking Advert

I found it strange when a friend in her 20's relationship ended and she worried so much that she wouldn't find anyone else.
She feared that no man would ever find her attractive and no man would go near her. She feared that she would be alone for the rest of her life.

I thought it was crazy. How could someone that young be worried about spending the rest of their life alone when they had the rest of their life ahead of them?
How could she be so worried that no one would ever find her attractive when she takes so much pride in her appearance, and is an attractive woman?
How could she believe that in this world not one person would ever want to be with her again?

I really didn't get it.
Until now.

We're all programmed and built differently and although some people will want to be out of a relationship, and away from any commitment or whatever from the opposite sex, others may crave that, and may be ready to jump into a relationship pretty soon.

For me, it's not even about a relationship. But more a feeling of the company of a man, not necessarily in that way, but even just the friendship and hanging out with a man that I want.
Maybe it's the fact that I don't have my dad in my life anymore, and that my brother lives miles away, that heightens that need for male company.
Throughout school I had male best friends and would regularly hang out with my brother and his friends when they were round.

When I went to the Isle of Man I loved being in that environment. Being surrounded by men and feeling comfortable enough to be around them without feeling inferior and feeding off their banter and so on.
I feel comfortable in the company of men because I suppose I don't feel so judged by them as I do by women, I feel a little more like I can be myself around them, and that I can talk to them about pretty much anything.

I know it's early days for me, from the eyes of other people.
But for a long time I have felt unattractive, lonely, not good enough. All of those things.
For so long I felt not good enough for the person who I was going to spend the rest of my life with. For so long I felt single.

And now I am single. Now I have that "status" and it is scary.
There is that feeling of having to put in effort to make sure you look nice, to make sure you are looking your best, just in case.
I'm a walking advert for myself I guess.

And I can't help but to get those feelings like my friend did.
That feeling of not ever meeting anyone else, never having someone look at you and to want to spend time with you. To want to cuddle you, spend time with you. To look at their phone and wonder why you haven't messaged them.

I feel like, at 30, that's it.
And I know 30 is still considered young, or is young, whatever, but there is that feeling of "It's too late". I feel like I'll never meet anyone else who would find me attractive.
It's not about replacing my husband, or wanting a life partner. But more finding someone who, for now, enjoys my company, wants to get to know me, and would even just like me in their life in some form.

Like, what are my good points? Why should I expect anyone to want to spend time with me?
If I find myself annoying, then everyone else will too surely? Especially someone who I would want to  enjoy my company, like me for what is on the inside as well as what is on the outside...which is a completely different blog post all together I suppose!!

As much as I can see that it is irrational, I also can't help but to feel that way.
I can't help but to feel like I'm never going to be that person that someone wants to spend any amount of time with.
I feel like I constantly have to justify myself. To constantly sell myself.
I've always felt like that.
But particularly now.



How to de-clutter your bedroom in five easy steps

There is nothing worse than going to the bedroom and finding that you have to clamber over piles of books and clothes before you can get into bed or simply change your clothes to go partying. A lack of cupboards and hanging space can drive you mad, but here are five simple tips to help you clear your bedroom.

1. Get creative with your bed
A bed’s a bed, right? Wrong. Getting creative and clever with your bed can really pay off when it comes to storage. Your No.1 priority should be comfort – that’s where https://www.evemattress.co.uk come in – but next, why not consider a divan bed with in-built storage drawers? That might negate the need for a separate chest of drawers or bedside table, or you might be able to manage with a smaller wardrobe. After all, an article on the Mirror website says that according to research the average woman has 22 items in her wardrobe that she doesn’t wear.

2. Clear out your drawers
Once you have decided to de-clutter your home or even just your bedroom, you should set out a timetable. Start off by clearing one drawer a day, or if you are feeling brave, all of them. Don’t do too much in one go otherwise you might get bored with it all and give up. Trying to complete everything in one go might not fit in with your schedule, so take it gradually and don’t stop until you’ve finished.

3. Sell or donate unused items
When you’re sorting through your clothes, books or shoes you should get rid of anything you no longer need. You could donate items to a charity shop; some collect, or just have them recycled. Whatever you decide to do with your unwanted articles, don’t undo the good work by thinking you might need some of them in the future. The online magazine House to Home says if you’re not using it now you never will.

4. Using storage boxes
If you suffer from a lack of space then one way to keep your bedroom tidy is to invest in some stacking storage boxes. You can buy them in a wide range of colours, shapes or sizes and made from a variety of materials. They are also great for keeping your winter clothes out of the way until you need them. These boxes can either be kept hidden in a corner or you can use them as a part of the décor, using matching colours and finishes.

5. Clearing all surfaces
Keep all of your dressers, tables and other surfaces in your bedroom clear and designate certain areas for jewellery, cosmetics and any other items. You can hang necklaces from special brackets fixed to the wall to make some extra room. Put labels on hangers so that you put things back in the right place.

If you do a lot of reading in bed you should fit bookshelves. You can rotate the books once you have read them and give them to someone else, as you probably won’t read them again. Just hang on to your favourite books. Once you have re-organised and de-cluttered your bedroom you should try and keep it that way, this will save you having to go through the same process a few months later.


Divorce and the Innocence of Children

The boys now know. For a while I thought it was best that they didn't, mainly because they are so young and to turn round and say "Mummy and daddy are going to not live together anymore" whilst we are still living under the same roof seemed a little too confusing and too much to put them through.

However, Charles asked some questions which eventually lead to him being told and thankfully we've managed to do it in such a way that it isn't the most devastating news for him.

I remember when my parents split, it was awful but mainly because of the situation and because I was so aware of the consequences and feelings around it all. I think the positive side to children being so young when this sort of thing occurs is that they don't get involved in the emotional side as much. They don't understand as much as someone does when they are 15, when they can take in and remember certain conversations and actions.

At 4 and 6 it's easy to distract them and to only mention the good things, or things that would make them happy.
In turn, they make it a little easier for us. They mention things that are ridiculous and so unimportant, to us at least, but things that to them mean so much.
Their innocence makes it easier.

Charles worried about whether or not we would have Nick Jnr anymore, and asked what would be on our tvs.
Harry decided that he would live with me and Charles would go with his dad.
He then decided that they would swap over half way during the week, not realising that they would then not see each other.

Charles wondered whether or not they would have two wardrobes and when I mentioned the fact that they would, and added that another good thing about having two houses is that they would kind of have two Christmases meaning Father Christmas would visit twice because he knows everything and knows that they would be celebrating with me and then with their dad. Charles' reply was..."Yeah but, does Father Christmas know that deers lose their horns?" Random, innocent and so out of the blue that I laughed until I cried.

And then there was the school playground. As we walked through and I mentioned how I would take them some days, and pick them up, and other days their dad would do the drop off and pick up...Charles decided to quite loudly inform me...."No more babies for you then!!"
And as I almost died of embarrassment I couldn't help but to laugh and to be comforted by his innocence. The innocence that helped take away some of those feelings of guilt that pick away at me.
As I try to remind myself that really we are doing the right thing, the children's reactions take away the seriousness, and provide a much needed happy distraction.



Adulting Part I | The First Steps

Since turning 30 last Friday adulthood seems to have crashed on my doorstep, or lap, however you would like to visualise it.
Not only the whole divorce thing but the fact that I can now make my own decisions, be in charge of my life, and to an extent do what I want.
3 bottles of Prosecco as gifts instead of Apple Sourz and cider created a certain feeling of being an adult.

Solo parenting at the weekend, although not a new concept but now more of a "thing" than it ever was before, switches on that adult mode.

Thinking logistically about where I am going to stay in the evenings and night-time's to make our living situation....erm...liveable is also something that seems quite grown up. Although, this also brings on massive feelings of vulnerability so whether or not that makes me a full time grown up I don't know.

And then there was Tuesday. The day that had me adulting more than I've ever adulted before.
A meeting with a solicitor.

Gosh, standing outside whilst I waited for them to unlock the doors from lunch was nerve wracking. My heart was pounding and I felt really open. I felt as though everyone who could see me would be judging me and deciding for themselves why I would be needing to go to a solicitors.

I almost took up my friends offer of going along with me. Thinking I wouldn't understand or take in any of the information given to me. The same way that post-tattoos I had to text the same friend who came with me to ask what the after care was because I wasn't really taking it in.

However, the "scary solicitor" as I imagined her, was really rather lovely and in no time at all I felt comfortable and confident enough to be there and to do what I had to do.
It was daunting, and it wasn't the nicest thing to ever go through. And despite it being a simple (and free thank goodness!) half an hour chat, I ended up curled up on my mums sofa, surrounded by cuddly dogs, feeling quite drained and exhausted.

Getting married and having children, buying a house and making life long plans always felt very grown up. But this, seperation and divorce and an uncertain future, feels like full on adulting.
And I can do it, because I have no choice.

But I will ensure that I have on a pair of killer heels as I go.



The best locations for a winter holiday

Many of us look forward to our summer holidays every year, but very few will consider a winter break. Most of us associate our holidays with sun, sand and sea, but many forget the beauty that comes with winter weather and the cosy evenings inside that are great for couples and families alike. Winter holidays have many advantages that a summer holiday doesn’t. Going on holiday during the winter is more relaxing than the summer rush. A relaxing break is a notion that goes out of the window when you are waking up at seven in the morning to reserve a sunbed by the pool, or when you are in the long queue for ice cream and can’t find anywhere for your family to make camp on the beach.
One of the best places to visit would be Paris, as it is such a short journey by plane, making it perfect for a last minute trip. Book a flight from Edinburgh to Paris for an enchanting experience. Paris is known as the City of Light and it is hard to imagine it becoming any more beautiful until you see it at Christmas time. The added magic of the festive atmosphere of the markets and decorations makes it a holiday to remember. Paris can be seen in all its glory from the top of the Eiffel tower, which makes for a romantic trip. However, if that sounds a bit too cold you can escape into the bistros and cafés. On top of that there are the rich historical sites of Paris that are a definite thing to visit during your time there.
Dublin is also one of the top contenders for places to visit over the winter period, especially now that there are many cheap flights to Ireland at this point in time. Like Paris, it is only a short flight, making it less of a stressful trip to make especially with children. The surrounding area of Dublin is very beautiful and offers some amazing walks, such as along the Great South Wall. It is great for a lively winter break as it has an abundance of bars, restaurants and markets with a lively atmosphere that is all part of the Christmas and New Year spirit.
As a city that is forever busy at any time of the year, New York has a completely different feel to it in the winter months. Especially with all of the festive celebrations, it creates an even more lively atmosphere that has hidden itself indoors for the Christmas shopping and the many food hotspots around the city.
Berlin looks like a setting from one of the Brothers Grimm fairy tales in the winter as it turns into a winter wonderland when the city freezes over. When the cold weather gets to be too much then there are many places to escape to, such as the multitude of museums, bars, cafes, restaurants and historical sites to visit.
Another good example of a destination that is almost transformed beyond recognition in the winter months is Venice. The winter weather changes the feel of the place to a more mysterious landscape with the aqua alta. Also, Venice can be more easily enjoyed when it isn’t packed with people.

Keeping your pets fit and happy this winter

As the summer days begin to fade and the long, cold winter looms, it’s worth remembering that it isn’t just us that may need a little more looking after. Our feathered, furred, and scaly friends may also require a pick me up or two.

Common problems affecting pets in winter

While you must be mindful of your pets’ health every day of the year, the winter months can bring about illnesses and complications of their own. Dogs, for example, can be prone to depression, weight gain if they aren’t exercised as regularly as usual, coughs and cold that could develop into something more serious if not treated, arthritis, skin problems, and a host of issues if they are allowed access to poisonous chemicals such as antifreeze or the new flourish of winter plants and berries growing outside. While some complaints such as arthritis and depression can be difficult to spot or prevent, it is important to take responsibility for your dog’s health; continue to take your dog for frequent walks, regardless of the weather, ensure harmful substances are kept well out of reach of pets and children, and be sure to take note of anything your dog may have consumed in the even that he or she becomes ill.

Taking care of your cat during the winter months will probably follow along these lines, as cats are also prone to weight gain, skin problems, and arthritis in the winter, as well as illnesses such as the flu. Always ensure that your cat has shelter outside, as well as a cosy spot indoors, and lock away chemicals that could be swallowed. If you have a rabbit or guinea pig that lives outside, consider bringing them in to your home or providing them with a blanket, throw, or rug to cover them when it’s very cold or windy. Remember to check their water daily to ensure that it hasn’t frozen. Even fish aren’t immune to the effects of the cold, and it can be a good idea to leave a small ball in their water so that an air hole can be created if the pond freezes over.

Helping your pet back to peak fitness

The saying that prevention is better than a cure is certainly true in the case of taking care of your pet; by doing everything that you can to ensure their wellbeing, you will already be winning the battle for a healthy pet. Responsible owners will feed their pets a balanced and nutritious diet, have them spayed or neutered to prevent unwanted pregnancies and certain health issues, ensure that their animals are regularly treated for worms, fleas, ticks, or other pests, have their pets regularly vaccinated, take the time to groom furry friends every day, look after teeth and gums, and provide a source of shelter, a warm place to sleep, constant hydration, and plenty of love, attention, and stimulation – regardless of the season.

If you notice that your pets are not acting like themselves, whether they are obviously ill, off their food, or simply a little low, it is important to seek veterinary advice as soon as possible. Some illnesses, such as colds, eye problems, and skin conditions, can usually be treated easily at home, with websites such as renowned veterinarians Bob Martin’s selling a range of medications and accessories to help you take the best care of your pet; why not check out the company’s new website for yourself? In the case of veterinary intervention, you will be advised on the correct way to care for your pet, and will usually be provided with a prescription for medication. Pills, drops, and medicines can often be purchased from pet care sites, such as Bob Martin, and often for a fraction of the cost – taking care of your pets doesn’t always have to cost the earth.

If you’ve been suffering from a cough or cold recently, or had to put on an extra layer or two in order to fend off the cold, spare a thought for your beloved pets. How are they holding up against the harsher winter months? Keep an eye out for changes in behaviour and worrying symptoms, and always remember - if you’re cold, they may well be too!

Things you need to know before taking on major home improvements

As the penchant for major home improvements and renovations grow, so too does the need for awareness of problems; do you know exactly what you’re getting into?
Renovating your home: potential struggles that you’ll encounter
Unlike smaller-scale home improvements, a major renovation has the potential to throw up a myriad of problems, including issues that you haven’t accounted for like unforeseen damage and delays to aspects of the project. There may also be areas of the renovation that cannot be completed without a specialist’s advice or attention, including plastering, refitting, plumbing, or electrical work. If these haven’t been taken into account, you could find yourself on the back foot for the duration of the project. Common struggles that people encounter during renovations include budget constraints, problems with the builders, electricians, plumbers, or decorators that have been hired, health and safety issues that could be encountered regarding the structural soundness of the renovation, or discovering that the project is more work than anticipated or doesn’t fit in with your home’s keeping as first thought. You may have heard the horror stories from other people, such as a renowned sports stadium running incredibly over budget, or a homeowner having to demolish a structurally unsound wall, or even run into minor issues of your own during a smaller renovation. However, nothing will prepare you for handling such a major operation.
Managing a successful renovation project
As you would imagine, the top tips for managing a successful renovation project include setting boundaries, agreeing a budget and timescale ahead of the work’s commencement, and ensuring to include topics such as health and safety in your plan. A successful renovation project is one that takes every eventuality into consideration, and endeavours to stick to each aspect; what use would a plan be otherwise? It is also important to spend your budget wisely, thinking through every design decision and purchase well ahead of time. That said, though, never compromise on the basics. Whether you’re having an extension built, completely gutting a property, or building a house from scratch, some things should never be scrimped on, such as the plumbing, electrics, and fixtures. Finally, always set a little money aside, normally 5% of your budget, to deal with any complications or unforeseen circumstance post-build. Even if everything appears to be on track, you can never know what the future holds and it always pays, quite literally, to be prepared.
Of course, one of the very best ways to ensure that your renovation project gets off the ground successfully, runs to time, and is completed with the maximum precision, is to hire a contractor who will manage the project’s day-to-day running and direct all other site personnel. Choosing a well-regarded and efficient contractor, such as one you have found via a reputable company or trader site, can instantly get a stale or starter project off the ground, and you’ll have access to years worth of experience and insight, somebody on site who is responsible for health, safety, and insurance, a ready cash flow and resources, and an expert upon whom you can call with any questions, ideas, or concerns. Additionally, contractor pay, particularly when made under a fixed term contract, can often be far less complicated than hiring your own building team and managing the project completely on your own. While there are some disadvantages to hiring a contractor, such as increased costs, a certain loss of control over the renovation, and having to rely on somebody else for the duration of the project, the benefits often outweigh these – especially if you work fulltime or cannot commit to being on site every day.

Deciding to take on a major home improvement or renovation project can be incredibly exhilarating, opening up a whole new world of possibilities within your home or the potential for expanding your property portfolio. Having an extensive plan in place, as well as the assistance of a contractor, is one of the very best ways to ensure the success of your project, although you will soon learn to face each eventuality with wisdom and good humour!


The "I'm OK" Head Bob.

Do you remember that scene in Friends, where Richard tells Monica about his divorce? Season 2, episode 15 apparently. He explains how people do a head tilt when they ask if he is ok, and he responds with a head bob and a "yeah, I'm ok".

I always loved that scene...ok mainly for Tom Selleck but still, I thought it was rather funny. And now, I kind of love it more.
I'm in the middle of sorting my stuff out. Being strict with myself and throwing out anything I really don't need. Packing up clothes I'm unlikely to grab for on a day to day basis to send to my mums to hang in her spare wardrobe (yeah I know, SPARE wardrobe?!) until things are sorted and I know where I will be living and whatever.
So, anyway. Now that the separation is out there, and by out there I mean we've done the whole Facebook announcement which obviously makes it like proper official. I wonder if in a few years time the decree absolute will be abolished and the change of a Facebook relationship status will be enough to confirm someone's divorce?!

When you get engaged people expect a standard reaction...tears, smiles, squeals, Towards the end of a pregnancy we expect the standard "I am fed up" comments from the mother to be. And when it comes to a separation people do seem to expect a standard response. They expect tears, a sad face, maybe a sob story or a story of how the person involved didn't see it coming, some kind of story that could be potential school run gossip.

The head tilt is a thing. It is an actual thing. A thing that people do a lot. And following the "I'm ok" head bob, the head tilt again and then, the head bob. 
As someone who is open and honest about most things, especially things like this I suppose, I do get a bit funny when it is assumed that I am not ok. 
When it comes to something like this, it isn't a spur of the moment decision...like "LET'S BOOK A LAST MINUTE HOLIDAY! OH, AND AT THE SAME TIME SHOULD WE GET A DIVORCE?!". 
There was months of confusion, sadness, confusion, hurt and more confusion. And deciding to actually go through with that conversation wasn't easy, but was necessary. 
Before that conversation, I wasn't ok. I felt like I was living a lie. I wasn't being myself. I wasn't being true to the person who I always promised I would be honest too. 
I couldn't live any more pretending that this is the life I want and the life that I am happy with.

We didn't live as a married couple for a while. And that is sad. But, we just simply grew apart. 
I tried to "fix it" and to "snap out of it" and tried to be the person I was before. The wife I was last year, or two years ago, but I realised she was gone and to try and be her again was a lie. 
The person I am now, this confidence, this need for a social life. This person who kind of craves freedom.
And as hard as it was to make that step to say "this isn't right, neither or us should be going through this", and to potentially hurt the person I once thought I would spend my life with, I know it would have been harder to spend every day together avoiding the issue. And it would have hurt us both more. 

I have received the most incredible support from those around me the last 2 weeks. It's been quite overwhelming and hard to deal with really.
I messaged a friend today to thank her and admitted that before, I hadn't appreciated her as much as I do now. Because in these times you really do find out who your friends are. You find out who you can trust, who you can't, who is there for you and supports you and who doesn't.

This is scary. It is tiring. And I'm sure there will be days when it seems like a battle.
I'm ok.
I really am ok.



Men's Guide to Wearing a Suit

Sometimes there's nothing quite like a man in a good suit is there? Romantic, powerful and smart, there are so many things that would attract a woman to a man wearing one.
I think that although we say, as women, it's hard to find outfits for certain occasions but when I look at suits and measurements I can't help but to think that actually women have it a little easier.

This infographic gives some great tips on buying that special man in your life the ideal suit. I'm taking notes!
The Men's Guide to Wearing a Suit

Provided by Dobell



Life and the End of my 20's.

Tomorrow I turn 30. It seems like a really big deal. 30 feels like a real "grown up" age. Like it's time to really knuckle down and be that adult that you have to now be.

My 20's have been cool.  I've spend the whole of my 20's married, I had jobs that I loved, jobs that I hated, I tried hard to have a relationship with my dad which I was then able to realise wasn't worth trying for anymore. 

I suffered a lot with mental health and as much as a suffered, I fought too. In fact, I fought really bloody hard.
I battled with my body putting on weight, losing weight.
My body treated me to two pregnancies and allowed me to feed these two beautiful boys for as long as I wanted/needed.

I made friends, I lost friends, and I found the most amazing friends who I am confident will be in my life forever.

I visited some amazing countries and had the best experience of my life at the Isle of Man TT this year. Spending 5 days with one of the most important people in my life.

And this year. Unexpectedly, I changed. Not in a negative way. But it was almost like I found myself. I found a confidence I didn't know I had. I found bravery that I would never have expected to have.
I found this woman that all of a sudden quite liked motorbikes and appreciated everything about them. A woman who thought she would never even consider getting a tattoo and ended up with 3 and a PINTEREST board full of future ideas for more.

There were consequences with this change though. And as a result I grew apart from someone who was a big part of my 20's. The person who made it possible for me to be a housewife, who made those children possible, who paid for those holidays and chances to explore other countries.
There came that moment when I realised that I didn't want to go into my 30's pretending everything was OK anymore. It had been a long time coming I suppose and 2 weeks ago we seperated.
I am ok. I am scared of what is to come but I am ok. 

A weight has been lifted from my shoulders, and his too I would imagine, and as we learn how to now navigate through this chapter of our lives I actually feel stronger than ever.
It's funny how you discover so much about yourself and those around you when you go through something like this. 

You wake up to how amazing your friends are and let me tell you, my friends are the best there ever was. Their support has been overwhelming. As has the support from my family, my mum in particular.

I remind myself that as scary as this may be, I'll be OK. Because people go through these things. I'm not suffering. I'm not pretending everything is OK with us anymore. We don't have to wonder what the other one is thinking or question the other ones feelings anymore.
We can be civil, and maybe be friends for the sake of our children at least.

Tomorrow is going to be OK. 

Tomorrow, as I turn 30, I am looking forward to the future. I am looking forward to realising just how strong and grown up I can be. 

I am looking forward to celebrating my birthday with my best friend and then having an evening with an even bigger group of friends.
I'm looking forward to heading into my 30's and to discover more about the person I have become and am continuing to become. Who I've had to keep hidden a little and to maybe not let blossom as much as she wanted to in fear that it wasn't the right thing to do. 

I can't stop her though. I can't not be myself for the sake of other people, even if the consequences are not what I expected in life.
Things happen for a reason I suppose.

But one thing I am sure of, and confident of, is that the me I have changed in to, the one I have become and am still becoming. She is a good, better, updated version of me.
And I like her. I actually like her.
That always felt like a big thing for me, to say I like myself. But right now, I do.

My 20's have been wonderful and I saw them in as a married woman.
I now see in my 30's as a single woman. I don't like the term single mum. I don't want to combine my relationship status with that role. It doesn't seem right.

I can do this. Everything will be OK. And although this isn't how I envisaged seeing in my 30's, it is how life has turned out and I'm alright with that.

Life is far too short to hold back and I'm ready to grab whatever happiness and experience I can and live the best life I can for me.

It won't be easy I'm sure.
But in the end....it will all be OK.

Kids at school? Time to do some studying of your own!

The kids have been packed off to school, and you can already feel the unmistakeable pang of sadness that comes with your little ‘uns fleeing the nest.
It didn’t seem long ago when you were changing their nappies, bathing them and burping them. Already, you can see them traipsing off to uni, leaving you bereft of the one thing you nurtured for so long.
But time spent while you wait to pick up the kids from school doesn’t have to be empty. While your nearest and dearest are cramming for their exams, why not study for a few of your own? It’s easier than you might think.
In the past decade, distance learning has been honed online to fit the lives of anyone who wants to study while maintaining a busy lifestyle. And they could help you land the job of your dreams by the time your kids are ready to flee the nest.
The old and the new
Back in the bad old days, when televisions were black and white and abacuses were bleeding edge technology, distance learning was in no great shape.
To learn, you’d have to scour libraries for core texts, watch educational programmes that only aired at 2am, and rely purely on your own wits to pass modules. Contacting your course advisor was a mountainous task, involving long waits for the postman and letter exchanges that could take months.
Now, however, the rise of the internet has changed the rules of the game. Chatting to your tutor is as simple as switching on Skype, and course texts are all available at the literal click of a button.
Moreover, the breadth of course on offer means you can study for exactly the position you want. Shoot for a leadership or business degree and you could find yourself at the top of the employment ladder when you head back to work.
The same for free?
Although less expensive than a degree from a brick-and-mortar university, distance learning degrees are still a pricey proposition for anyone on a lower income.
The alternative, then, is the Massive Open Online Course (MOOC). Having made ripples in the academic sector for years, MOOCs have cemented themselves as ideal free tasters for full courses.
All you have to do to study a MOOC is sign up, then you’ll be treated to a variety of resources and educational tools. But there is a downside – MOOCs come with no official qualification, so can’t further you in your career.
However, the MOOC system does give you the opportunity to try out new courses before you put your money where your mouth is.

In essence, there’s never been a better time for a housewife to earn a degree. So if you’re wondering how to be productive while the kids are at school, now you know exactly what to do.


Guide to picking a horse to back

In the modern era, there has been a huge increase in the number of people both attending racecourses and placing bets on upcoming horse racing events and meetings. Huge races such as the Grand National, the Ascot Gold Cup and the Oaks have contributed to the increase in popularity of the sport and the television coverage helps to increase the excitement of the races, although many prefer to witness the races in person.

There are various reasons why people are attracted to attend a horse racing meeting. Perhaps you just love to see the horses in action, or want to watch your favourite jockeys from up close. However, the most popular reason is to bet on the horses due to the excitement and opportunity to win money. There are a number of different ways to go about choosing which horse to back ahead of a race and, while you can purchase a guide to betting on the horses, we believe that you should always follow these steps.

For smaller fields, it’s all about the odds. Odds are determined by a number of key variables, including form, past record at the venue, jockey, trainer, whether the horse has won over this distance before – pretty much anything that is associated with that particular horse, race and track. All of this information is available via the bookmakers, including Coral, but you can also find out more advice and form guides in newspapers on the day.

In larger races, pot luck does come into it a little more. The starting favourite very rarely wins in these races and there have been 100-1 winners of big events such as the Grand National in recent years. Although horses do earn favouritism for a reason, it doesn’t guarantee success – particularly over fences – and one should be careful when weighing up odds, potential winnings and risk in races.

While the tried and tested method of “choosing the name because you like the name” isn’t always the best way to go, it isn’t exactly a bad option to go by. If you visit the racecourse for an enjoyable day out, the chances are that you won’t be a horse racing aficionado and will be expecting to lose out on the races. Therefore, picking your horse because of its name or jockey colours is an excellent way of narrowing down the field.

It is crucial that punters don’t expect to win, especially when picking your horse on its name alone. Odds are there for a reason but, as previously mentioned, this doesn’t guarantee success. The main thing about a day at the races, or even simply placing a bet at your local bookmaker, is that you enjoy the race and that the horses are able to put on a safe yet competitive show.



The Replacement

When my dad left us I worried about how my brother would take it, more than how I would. Despite it always being me and my dad as part of a team and my mum and my brother, I couldn't help but to think that a boy needs his dad, a male role model and a male figure there for him.
It's all a bit of a haze now. We both reacted in different ways and other things that happened around that time made it hard for me to see how my brother was coping.

When it came to my wedding I wanted my brother to walk me down the aisle, but it would have caused too much of an issue so it didn't happen.
I will never forget him getting one of my favourite songs on at the reception so he could dance with me. I was singing along to the song, Jessica Simpson "With You" and I remember him clearly telling me not to sing.

I have so many wonderful, special memories with him that just keep being added to over and over and he truly is one of the most important person in my life.

This past week has been the first time in almost 2 years, since I completely cut contact with my dad, that I have missed having someone in that role.
Someone to give me that feeling of protection, support and to be my strength. And just to tell me they love me and that they are there for me.
I realised pretty soon, that it wasn't my dad I missed. It was that role, but not necessarily him.
I have someone who replaced him, who took on that role without needing to. Who became head of our family, and is that strong male figure we need.

My brother. And right now, I miss him more than I ever have done.
This year, with the memories we made and the fact we have got closer due to him now sharing his passion of the TT and motorbikes in general with me,
I feel like we are closer than ever, despite not being close in terms of distance. But the distance right now, is breaking my heart.
I just want to sit in a room with him. We don't have to talk. We don't have to acknowledge each other. But just being there, that's all I need.

My mum came home yesterday from a meal out with a friend, and walked in to find me watching the Classic TT on ITV4. I joked that it must be like having my brother there.
And then I burst into tears. Because I just want him here.
My twin and my best friend.
The replacement. The man who fills the role of dad, that strong male role in my life.

He may not agree with everything I do in my life, he may be super protective, he may find me annoying most of the time. He may be grumpy and I may feel like he doesn't want me to talk to him sometimes.

But in the hardest of times, it's his arms I want to wrap round me to say that I will be ok. It's his acceptance that I need.
He is everything to me. And always will be.

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