Friday 29 November 2013

We pulled up the chairs and watched....

Let me take you back, waaayyyyyy back till before most of my fellow bloggers were born, back to 1979.
I had my first child and got my first house in that year. Back in the days before having a fully equipped house was the norm, back when electrical appliances were a luxury not a right. When we moved into our first flat, a top floor flat, we did not have a washing machine, or a spin dryer for that matter.

I boiled my nappies in a jam preserving pan on top of the stove, I washed all my washing by hand in the double sink, and hung it all on out the verandah. dripping wet until it was dry enough to bring in and finish off drying on the fire guard round the coal fire......yep you have guessed it there was no central heating in the flat back then either.

In 1980 I had child No two, a mere eighteen months after I had child No1. So here I am living  in a top floor flat with two children both in nappies and with more washing to do than anybody deserves.

Fast forward to 1983 with child No1 now four and the younger one three. By this time I am friends with an amazing woman, my saviour, who despite having six children of her own always had time for me and mine. But that worked both ways and I did my bit to enhance her life and help her out with her brood, doing school runs, looking after them while she did shopping or had nights out with her husband.

Sadly for my friend her mother in law died in that year. Her husband was an only child and so had all the funeral to arrange, the house to clear and all the masses of other work related in winding up somebodies life.

So me and mine moved into her house for four days after they had sold the mother in laws house while they emptied it and cleaned it. The house was over seventy miles away and so it was much easier for my friend not to have to run back and forth, and this way she did not have to worry about the children, she knew they were in good hands. Think of the advantage to me, I had access to a washing machine, an automatic washing machine at that. Twin tubs were fairly normal back then.

Anyway the last evening when they came back her husband run me and mine home and helped us up the stairs with all our stuff and then left us at the door. Hubby and I came in and as the girls were ready for bed we put them straight down and then I went into the kitchen. There fitted into a gap next to the double sink in the kitchen was a washing machine, an automatic washing machine. I could not believe it. On top of the washing machine was a note - Thank you for everything you do for us.

It turns out that the washing machine was from my friends mother in laws house and that as she had no need for it it any more my friend thought I would appreciate it, and she reckoned as I deserved it.

So as there had been washing lying before we went away my husband and I popped in a load of washing, pulled up two chairs and sat and watched the machine do its job. Yes we literally sat in front and watched it go round and round until it finished. I was over the moon, had never in my wildest dreams expected somebody to do something so lovely for me. You modern parents don't now you are born I did manage without what is now my favourite appliances, but would not like to have to again.

Wednesday 27 November 2013

Three ways to bring the spirit of the season to your holiday home

I have to say I am a lover of off season holidays, a chance to relax after a busy summer and unwind before the stress that can be Christmas. What better place than a caravan with all mod cons?

Christmas is coming, the goose is getting fat…
And since most holiday parks stay open throughout December for caravan owners, there’s just enough time to squeeze in a short break before Christmas – and the closure of the parks for winter.
Follow these tips to make sure your final break in your static caravan in 2013 is a festive one!

Cosy nights around the fire
One of the best things about holiday homes is that they get the whole family in one place. And while you can get a WiFi connection on-park, sometimes it’s nice to go offline and spend time together talking or playing a board game.
So turn your phone off and switch the fire on for a cosy evening eating mince pies, finding out who gets competitive over scrabble and watching the great telly in the run-up to Christmas!

Family walks
It may be cold outside but that doesn’t mean you need to hibernate. Winter walks as a family, wrapped up nice and warm against the cold, can be a lovely way to enjoy the season and spend quality time together.
UK holiday parks are located in the country’s best loved holiday destinations, which also means they’re in close proximity to stunning scenery that can be enjoyed all year round. And whether you go for a winter stroll along the beach at Perran Sands to soak up the crisp sea air or go for a brisk walk around Lake Windermere, you’ll always have your holiday home to return to afterwards for a warm mug of hot chocolate by the fire.

Tasty home-cooked food
Food is at the heart of the festive season so take this chance to do some home-cooking in your caravan. We’re all used to cooking at home but too many of us are used to cooking for convenience rather than flavour.
Stock up on ingredients at the on-park supermarket and make some Christmas favourites, such as mince pies, mulled wine and pigs in blankets in the comfort of your own holiday home kitchen. The ovens in static caravans are just as good as the one you’d have at home, so there’s no limit to what you can make.
And the best part of a winter weekend away is that when it’s over, you still have real Christmas to look forward to!

This is a sponsored guest post.

How To Handle Your Child’s Computer Addiction

There's a high chance your child could end up addicted to social media sites. It's not just social media that's the problem; there's also a wide range of forums and games available via Smartphones that your children can get addicted to. We live in an electronic world where Computer is the norm for children.    

There's no doubt that the Internet can have many benefits. However, these benefits are quickly being overtaken by the potential risks involved. The question is how can you deal with this issue as a parent? The good news is there are some websites out there dedicated to helping parents deal with technological problems that their children might face. is one of the best places to learn about how computer’s effects your child’s online behaviour and it provides useful, up to date advice for parents, by other parents and experts in the field.    

If parents are really honest with themselves, Computer has been a blessing for them in terms of keeping their kids entertained. It's hard work trying to get the daily chores done while keeping an eye on your kids. So when they're sitting quietly, entertaining themselves on the computer it's easy to just let them get on with it. Technology has overtaken a lot of other family activities. Think about how many times you've been on day trips with the family this year. When was the last time you actually read books with your kids?    

When was the last time you went to see a movie with your kids? These days it's considered to be really uncool for teenagers to go to the cinema with their parents. If you spend a lot of time with your kids, doing things in the real world rather than online then you can stop reading now. However, if you find that your family has been taken over by a more virtual world, now is the time to do something about it.      The trouble is our kids are now listening to TV programs that create a negative image of adults and other kids. They learn that adults are uncool, teachers often can't control their classes and students are considered popular and cool if they answer back in class. They start to learn that kids are considered smart, while adults should be abused. With this strong stereotyping hammered into our child's minds, how can we as parents educate them differently?  

Many young people are now put off becoming teachers because of the reputation these types of programs are giving them. The increase in the amount of satellite cartoon channels has only made the problem worse. The trouble is, the majority of these programs are aged at children aged 1-5. They teach your kids that the bigger your weapons are, the more likely it is that you'll get far in life. The content they are being exposed to is truly shocking at times.     

Image courtesy of Vlado /

Think about how TV has changed. Remember Tom and Jerry and Tweetie Pie? They taught kids that the little guy always wins because he's clever. They overcome the bullies without using weapons.

This is a guest post by Jane.who writes regularly for which is a Question and Answer forum for parenting and technology related queries.

Tuesday 26 November 2013

Why staycations are an easy alternative to going abroad

 To me holidays are a special time, a time to relax and enjoy being with your family. A time to really connect  with each other and spend valuable time together. So many parents work these days and life is often hectic and they don’t always have time to interact with their children on a day to day basis a much as they would like too.  Holidays are not cheap these days and you need to get the best family time available for your money.

When my own family were young we tended to stay in Britain where as my sister always went abroad. I never really understood the need to do this.To me  UK family breaks are convenient. There is so so much to consider when travelling abroad, especially if you have very young children. Does everybody have an up to date passport? Have you taken out sufficient travel insurance?  Have you enough time between connecting flights/ferries?  If one is delayed then you may miss a connection messing up the whole holiday. Have you had the correct injections? For me all this would create too much stress beforehand and defeat the purpose of a relaxing enjoyable family time. 

But one alternative that I think is great is a staycation. 
staycation is a period in which an individual or family stays home and participates in leisure activities within driving distance, sleeping in their own beds at night. 

a windmill at the free windfarm. 
I love this idea. There is usually so much to see and do in your own area. We all see tourists in our area and if the area you live in can  attract people from other countries then it must hold some interest for ourselves. I have done various posts on my blog of free days out we have enjoyed. 

the autumnal colours at a local free park 

I think the secret to a successful staycation is the same as with any holiday - planning. You also need to make sure you are appealing to everybody that is going to be involved.  

You could maybe alternating an art gallery for older children with an interactive museum for the younger children. 

Planning takes many forms to include
  • transport, make the most of public transport and take advantage of day tripper tickets to minimise costs. This gives the driver a holiday as well and it saves the "are we there yet" cries from the back of the car and means you can all enjoy the trip. Much easier to play games like I Spy if nobody is concentrating on driving.
  • opening hours of places of interest, no point in turning up at a place of interest if it only opens part time.
  • look for free places to visit, most museums and country parks in my area are free, as is the wind  farm and the beach. This is a great way to make the budget stretch allowing you to visit other  places of interest with higher entrance fees. 
  • take snacks with you for during the trip but plan where to eat out just as you would with any other holiday
  • would you benefit from a membership to organisations like National Trust or Historic Scotland? When we went on holiday a few years back we took out memberships that could be paid over twelve months by direct debit so it did not come out of the actual budget. This gives access to places of interest that you can then visit again throughout the year for free. 
  • Plan some indoor days as the weather can be unpredictable, but leave these for the wet days, and if you have none fit them in nearer the end of the holidays anyway. 
  • Do you have relatives that live within your travelling area? Then you could stay away for a night for free and explore slightly further afield. 

 So next time you are planning a holiday, why not plan a staycation? Enjoy the attractions in your own area and maybe find some interesting places that you fancy revisiting in the future. 

Sunday 24 November 2013

My "festive face off" challenge.

I saw a blogger challenge

The challenge is simple; we are tasking you with using your creative talents to produce a bespoke Christmas-themed decoration for the home or garden. Your creation will then be judged against those of the other leading UK craft bloggers involved in the challenge in a ‘Festive Face-Off.’ We are only going out to a very small number of select expert craft bloggers of which you are obviously one. Each participant will be sent a special Country Baskets blogger pack featuring a wide range of craft items to help you create your decoration. The pack will arrive with you no later than 18th November 2013 and you will then have at least two weeks to create your masterpiece! You can use your own additional items if you wish and your decoration can be anything from a traditional bauble or wreath, to a larger modern item to decorate the home or even something for the garden. 

Well we are not overly artistic or crafty, but in keeping with the title of my blog it sounded like something the grandchildren and I could have fun doing, so I accepted the challenge. I along with the other bloggers received a gorgeous hamper full of crafting items to use.

I have had the grandchildren most of this week as my daughter has been in hospital having their baby brother and sister and so it has been a great opportunity for us to work on various stages of the projects allowing for each stage to dry. This has also had the added advantage if keeping Bob amused and occupied while he has been here and his sister has been at school.

So we put our brains together, did some research on google and came up with some ideas.

First off we made a snow scene.

We took one of the pieces of bark that was in the parcel.

Earlier I had made some papier mache with shredded paper. We then built up a landscape with the mache.

Adding tin foil as a frozen pond and a snowman peg for a snowman

Building in pine cones as fir trees and some pieces or tinsel as bare trees.

Once it had dried we painted the snowman, sprayed the landscape with spray snow. here is our finished landscape.

As my daughter is not putting a tree up this year as there will be no room with all the items the twins are going to be needing in the living room for the next few months we worked on ideas that the children could decorate the edges ledges and walls with.

Our second idea was much simpler. Button Christmas trees. These were dead simple. Using a needle and thread pile buttons up together and tie off tight. We did have a whole family of these but not sure where the children have put them.

Next Bob and I set about making some wire Christmas trees. Firstly Bob (with quite a bit of help) bent wire round the shaped end of a bottle to form a tree shape.

Bob then spread glue on parts of the wire tree

then dipped them into a bag of white glitter.

Once dry he painted on red, yellow, and blue blobs to look like strings of lights.

Once they were all dry I added a bell to the top of each tree by bending the wire round, and voila!! we have a mummy, daddy and baby tree.

Next off we made some snowmen. For these we used shaped pegs, again we glued them, dipped them in glitter, once dried we painted hats, faces and buttons. Lastly we added some cord as scarves.

Next up we decided to use some of the flowers and leaves that had been sent to us. I had in the house three clear vessels designed for using in flower arranging. 

First of all Bob spread glue round the edges of two of the three we had, and then dipped the glue edges into the glitter. The third one we pour some green paint into the bowls and spread it round to make them green. 

Once everything had dried we decide what we were going to add to them. One of them we poured in some pink diamond like beads we were provided with and added some pva to keep them in the bottom. Fifi then added some flowers so they would dry in with the pva and stay put. In the bowls round the edges they added a mixture of holly berries, glitter branches and other artificial flowers. 

With the green painted one Bob decided we would glue some of the patterned ribbon round and glue in some of the apples on stalks that were in the hamper. 

Theses are going to be Christmas resents for mum and Fraser, and Granny Nan and Papa Tom, who are being warned not to look at this post!!!!!!

We had fun with the tub of glitter and spent quite a while writing and drawing in it.  

Our piece of which the children are most proud was the final item we finished off.  There was a lot of thought, a fair amount of work and a lot of love put into this item.

We used the pack of ten wooden stars we were provided with

each star had a different design added to one side, with each of them making their own design. Some were painted, some were drawn, and some stuck and glued with various items.

Once they had dried we turned them over and Fifi, in her best writing, wrote on each one to form a saying.  They read "Happy 1st Xmas Minky and Dinky from Fifi and Bob" ( but with their proper names). Their idea being this year it can be used word side out and over the coming years it can be used pictures side out. Will get OH to varnish it I think to preserve it better.

Once everything was dry we used some of the lovely silky ribbon we had been send  and strung them all together adding a bell to the ribbon in between each star.

Here we have the garland.

The children have worked very very hard this week making all these items, and I am sure mum and Fraser and the grandparents will love them.

Thank you Country Baskets for the fabulous hamper which has helped me keep the children amused.

Saturday 23 November 2013

Project 365 17th - 23rd November

Well I have to say this has been a busy busy week, having had the grandchildren for most of it. Have spent the time with Bob  trying my best to keep him busy and occupied to save him missing his mum too much. He is never away from home more than one night at a time but they were here Wednesday and Thursday all day and then again Friday after we came back from the hospital until Fraser came back to pick them up. We have baked and cooked and much to granddads disgust  we have done messy arts and crafts, making some brilliant Christmas decorations.

Did warn you last week that this week will be over run with baby pictures, and it is.


Had a birthday cake to make for Fifi's birthday party tomorrow. So made a hedgehog with matchmakers for quills and surrounded by  mud made form after eights.

Today was Fifi's eleventh birthday. She had wanted a party but as it was so near to the twins birth date it was too much for her mum to manage. So they agreed on a few fireworks followed by hot chocolate and birthday cake.


Received a hamper of crafting stuff to make decorations with, this was part of the hamper and have become our main decoration.


Bob and I decided to make a start on our Christmas decorations.


Well the twins arrived today. Did a post here with names and weights and such like. I love this picture, this is Bob's first sighting of his brother and sister and I love the way he is looking at them.


Took the children back up to the hospital to see mummy and the babies. Had to laugh at Bob he plonked himself on the bed next to his mum, changed the tv channel to CBBC and sat and watched the tv. Fifi was more fascinated with her sister and was happy to hold her and gaze at her.


Auntie T and Auntie H managed to get down today to see their new nephew and niece. I have to share this one with you, not quite sure what Bob is thinking and I hadn't noticed the look on his face when I took the picture but I have to say it has made me laugh.

TheBoyandMe's 365 Linky

Thursday 21 November 2013

Warning......proud grandparent baby picture overload

I am proud to present Minky and Dinky.

Minky, given name Alexander Clarke McLeod (going to be called Xander)  was born at 9.42 am weighing 5lb 9 oz.

Dinky, given name Charlotte Rose Mcleod (going to be called Lottie) was born at 9.44am weighing 6lb 3 oz.

There is a distinct size difference in them, easy to tell who is who.

Bob meets the twins - Minky is on the left

Daughter was kept in the labour suite until 7pm tonight as they were worried about her bleeding. Mother and both babies doing well, both babies taken to feeding as well.

Dinky has curly hair

Bob and Fifi are over the moon with them, Bob had a cuddle with his brother but then went and sat with mum. Fifi had a cuddle with both babies.

Dinky with Fifi

Fifi and Minky covering his face

Me and the other Granddad (Papa) 

cuddles with Mummy

Fraser changing Dinky's nappy

Granny and Papa with Minky

Fifi with Dinky

Papa with Minky

Granny and Papa with Dinky

Minky holding my finger

Bob and Minky. 

Fifi and Bob are wearing I am a big brother/sister badge that Granny and Papa (the other grandparents) got for them.