I am over the moon to announce that The Book of Silly Rhymes is a finalist in the Wishing Shelf Book Awards!
I was so surprised I didn’t even know that my book had been entered but last Sunday I received the short but sweet txt message from my publisher to tell me The Book of Silly Rhymes has made it to the final of the awards.
It is an amazing feeling to find out that the children’s rhyming book I put so much time and effort into has made it into the finals of this award and for me the best thing is knowing that all the initial judging was done by children and teachers.
Knowing that the children have read and enjoyed my book means the world to me after all they are the ones that I wrote my book for in the first place.
The Book of Silly Rhymes for those of you that don’t know is a rhyme book for children packed full of short silly rhymes for 6-11 year old’s some of which are a little bit rude. It is aimed to bring fun and laughter to reading time and get children especially those reluctant to read enjoying story time.
The whole book is printed in the open dyslexia font to help children and adults with dyslexia read the book more easily. I myself have dyslexia so I know the struggles children can have when faced with reading.
The winners will be announced on the 1st April 2020 so please do wish me luck.
I love making handmade decorations, I just love sitting down with my girls and creating beautiful handmade items we can be proud of.
We have made flower pots before using the decoupage technique a few years ago as Christmas presents where we covered the pots in pictures. When I heard about making decoupage Wooden hearts using napkins I just had to give it a go.
After a lot of trial and error we finally know how to make them and have made some beautiful hanging decorations ready to hang around the house.
First you need to prepare your wooden heart surface and make sure it is smooth. You can use sandpaper to give it a light rub down. If you do sand the heart first make sure you remove all the wood dust before moving on to the next step.
We then painted our wooden hearts white as having this background colour helps bring out the details of the napkin but this step is optional and depends on how you want your heart to look. You could experiment and do one of each and see what one you prefer.
Cut out the pattern you want from your napkin.
You then need to separate the ply from the napkins. This step is very important as we found out the hard way. If you don’t separate the ply the napkin will crease and start to separate on the heart. The first sheet of ply will come off easy and with a bit of rubbing and pulling you can then separate it again until you are left with a very thin napkin layer.
The carefully place your napkin on the heart making sure it is right side up. When smoothing the napkin down don’t rub it to hard as it will rip. I found that tapping it works better than rubbing. You can also use a sheet of cling film and place over the top before pressing the napkin down this will also help to stop it ripping.
Leave to dry.
Once dry cover the whole of the heart in Mod Podge. Repeat this step 3-5 times until you have a nice smooth finish.
To make your heart feel super smooth you can then use your sandpaper to give it a light rub over to erase all the bumps. If you have any overhang of napkin you can also use the sandpaper to take this off.
Tie your string to the top and find somewhere to hang your new beautiful decoration.
If you enjoyed reading my post why not take a look at my other post –
If you are ever feeling down or having a bad day, this wonderful little book is just what you need to pick yourself up.
I am your friend a book of hope is packed full of colourful images with positive messages that burst of the page. They will leaving you feeling uplifted and inspired.
This handy smaller pocket edition of the book is designed to be your perfect companion when you are out and about. You can pick it up and flick through it anywhere or share it with someone in need of cheering up. There is also a bigger hardback edition of the book.
As soon as I opened the book I was drawn in, you can just feel the love, positivity and emotion that the author and illustrator Billie Bacall is portraying. She created this book to help lift herself out of a very difficult time in her life. In a short time period she suffered the sudden death of her husband and went through major surgery and chemotherapy. It is through drawing that she found solace and a way out of her a difficult period in her life.
Now she shares her drawings to uplift and inspire others to stay positive and to help them through dark times.
After I finished reading the book I felt on a high reeling in the positive vibes. I straight away shared it with my girls and they loved the book too.
Madeira is a Portuguese hidden gem which is often overlooked by travellers. Madeira is a beautiful island located of the northwest coast of Africa.
No matter where you are on the island you will always enjoy stunning views. Madeira is swept with mountains, valleys, rolling lush green hills and banana trees galore.
We have enjoyed two amazing family holidays to Madeira and will be returning again in the future.
Madeira is a perfect place for a family holiday even from the offset the plane journey had families and Madeiran people returning home not the loads of drunken stag and hen dos loitering the aisles like you get when travelling to places like the Canary Islands.
We flew with Easy Jet the no thrills airline which I would recommend, as travelling with children can be expensive, so choosing a cheaper airline will save you money. We have flown with Easy Jet a lot and have never had any issues and always had pleasant flights with them.
We didn’t pay for any hold luggage and took a hand luggage bag each so we kept the cost down, we bought a bottle of sun cream from the airport. Not only did this save money but it saved time on dropping the bags in and then waiting at the baggage reclaim to pick up your cases.
As we do on all our holidays we hired a car from Europcar at the airport, as we love to explore and travel. We wanted to see as much of the island as we could in our short stay. We have used other car rental companies in the past but have always received the best service from Europcar.
Lucky for us Dino has family in Madeira so we were staying at his amazing Aunties house however there are lots of hotels and guest houses located around the Island and in Funchal, the capital of Madeira.
As soon as we arrived we sat down on the veranda and gazed upon the view of the hills all around and the distant sea.
My children set about lizard hunting the little scaly creatures were hiding everywhere and darting across the walls. My girls were fascinated and were running around after them trying to catch one. When they had no luck they decided to feed the lizards and got the plastic top of a Pringles lid and started putting dead ants in it.
When they put it on the side, in my haste I told the girls that the lizards wouldn’t come and eat the ants from their makeshift feeder but to my surprise a little lizard popped his head out of the plants and crept over and started lapping up the ants.
After a lot of perseverance they finally managed to catch a few lizards.
Things to Do in Madeira
Cable car and Basket Ride
Madeira is famous for the basket ride and since we had told the girls about this and shown them the pictures before we left they could not wait to go on it. With the kids barely containing their excitement we headed off to find the ride.
The basket rides starts off at Monte which is at the start of the mountains so you have 3 options to get there,
1. Get a pricey cab,
2. Drive up there but then you are faced with the problem of walking back up the very long steep hill which is near impossible to climb as an adult, let alone if you have children and
3. Park in the car park in the center of Funchal and take the cable car to the top of the hill and then get the basket ride back down. The basket ride doesn’t go all the way back to the centre but then you can choose a 15 – 20 minute downhill walk or a taxi or the new tuk-tuks. Of course we opted for the 3rd option.
We got our tickets for the cable car and waited in line watching as the carts came round at a crawling pace as people hurled themselves into the slow moving cart. When are turn came we were lucky that we could all fit into the cart together as there was 7 of us. We all managed to get in and be seated in time for it to begin its accent to the top of the hill.
I am not going to lie I was very scared on the cable car, especially when it goes over the support poles and it bumps along but I have to admit it was well worth it for the spectacular views of the island and seeing the excitement on the girls faces, they absolutely loved it.
When you get off the cable car there is a beautiful church that you can go inside for free and admire the beauty of it, you can even climb the stairs to the very top and look out over the landscape with far reaching views over the land all the way to the glistening sea.
Located at the top is Monte Botanical gardens which there is a charge to get into and sadly we couldn’t afford to do everything so had to give this a miss but maybe next time we will get to visit it.
On the way to the basket ride we passed a local guy selling strawberries in a plastic cup with cream and a finger biscuit from the back of his car. I think it was €2 a cup, we were a bit unsure as they were all just loaded in the back of his old rusty car, despite the doubts we gave them a try. The strawberries turned out to be the best we had ever tasted they were so sweet and juicy we scoffed the lot and went back for more.
We made our way to the basket ride as the girls could not wait any longer. The ride is very popular and with a lot of cruise ships stopping at the island and the coaches ferrying all the people up from the port to go on the ride there was a lot of people. The queue went down quite quickly but everyone enjoyed watching others in front of them going off down the hill in the basket and there was a nice atmosphere.
When we were there we saw a wedding party come out the church and go down on the baskets to the reception at the bottom of the hill.
All the men that work on the ride wear white outfits with, blue jackets and straw hats and the baskets are reinforced wicker baskets with a bench inside mounted on wooden slats and pull strings at either side for steering. When it was our turn we had two baskets to fit us all in Dino and I was in one with Alexa on my lap, Lia on his and his little cousin squeezed in the middle of us and in the other was my mum, Sophia and Bella.
Once we were all in the men gave a good push then ran as fast as they could to push us off down the hill, once we had gathered up speed they jumped on the back then just used one leg to push, to keep us ploughing down the hill. The ride was a lot faster than I thought it was going to be. I will never forget the smile that was on Alexa’s face it was from ear to ear she was beaming with joy. We were all laughing and enjoying ourselves the whole way down it was an amazing experience.
The Pirate Ship
The girls had spotted the pirate ship (a replica Christopher columbus ship) in Funchal marina and they really wanted to go on it , Sophia and I wanted to see dolphins anyway so we decided to take a trip on it. All the staff were dressed up in pirate outfits and got into character, they had a parrot which you could have on your shoulder, Lia was the only one brave enough to hold it. There is also meant to be a dog that rides on board but unfortunately he was at the vets the day we went.
Once everyone was on board we set sail and the boat took us out away from the coast in search of dolphins. One of the guys was high up on the mast in the lookout tower with his binoculars searching for dolphins. We were all watching out over the vast calm blue ocean with the mountains of Madeira in the background surrounded in a wisp of cloud.
All of a sudden there was a shout from the guy up the mast and we were off the boat going as fast as it could until we reached the mammals they had spotted. Now to me they looked like dolphins but to the trained professionals running the boat they were actually a type of whale and I forget now what type they were but nevertheless it was amazing to watch them breaking in and out of the water around the boat.
After we had finished watching the whales the boat took us on a tour of the stunning coastline, then stopped for a spot of swimming, none of us were brave enough to get in as the water was cold. After that we were all given some Madeira honey cake and a glass of Maderia wine (juice for the children of course) and then headed back.
On the journey back Lia handed the pirate her rubbish and he kissed her hand and to this day she still remembers and talks about it as soon as anyone even mentions Madeira.
When you look at activities to do in Madeira stargazing does not really come up and there is not much information on it. However, it is one of the most amazing things to do and every time we have been to watch the stars there has not been a single other sole around. It is mesmerising with the amount of stars in the sky, it is my favourite activity to do in Madeira.
We headed to the top of Pico Do Arieiro which is 1810 meters above sea level and we stop at the last viewpoint before reaching the very top where there is a few street lights and a very big government telescope.
From there the sky is lined with stars, it was like someone had split a pot of glitter all over a sheet of black paper, you can even see the Milky Way.
When we go we all wrap ourselves up in blankets and wear warm clothes as it is very cold up there, then we either lie across the bonnet of the car or sit on it but remember if it is a rental car you have be careful not to scratch it. I have even lied down on the road in front of our parked car to gaze up at the sky. We were all lucky the last time we went because as soon as we stepped out of the car the biggest brightest shooting star shot across the sky like a firework. It was an amazing experience for the kids to have and one they won’t forget.
Madeira has mainly rocky beaches across the island however there are two man made sandy beaches which are located in Calheta and Machico. Both beaches are great for children to swim in as they are enclosed with stone walls so the water is a lot calmer and excellent for a bit of snorkelling. We found that both the beach were not that busy when we were there not like the beaches you find in some other European holiday destinations or even the UK on a rare hot day when everyone flocks to the beach.
If however you do want to experience the long white sandy beaches with crystal blue waters, then just a 2 hour boat trip away is the island of Porto Santo and the beaches there are breathtaking. We didn’t manage to take the kids there but Dino and I have done this trip about 9 years ago before having children. The trip from Madeira to Porto Santo is a bit rough and from personal experience and from everyone else’s who has done the trip, it can make you feel a bit queasy but strangely enough the trip back from Porto Santo to Madeira is fine. Apart from its beautiful Caribbean looking beaches, Porto Santo offers a big go kart track and also a lovely town with coffee shops and restaurants.
Natural Rock Pools
As well as the sandy beaches Porto Moniz offers amazing natural rock pools that you can swim in as well as a man-made swimming pool. When we visited the sea was a bit rough but there were still a few hardy souls swimming in these beautiful rock pools. There is also lovely restaurants that you can sit and watch the sea from.
If you are looking for a quieter beaches with beautiful views across the Island then Faial is a lovely spot. It only has one restaurant and a small park but a nice little rock pool cove for swimming or snorkeling but be careful as the steps leading down to it are very slippery. You can also follow the road and admire waterfalls trickling water down from the mountains into the streams. There is also a big go kart circuit there that you can do arrive and drive.
The Glass viewing platform
In Carbo Girao you can walk out on the glass viewing platform which is a mere 580 meters above sea level and wonder down at the sea crashing into the cliffs below. As most adults would, we edged our way onto the platform and slowly went further and further on to it to take a look.
Not the kids though they walked straight on to it, walking around and looking down at everything below them. They then all sat down watching the lizards running on the cliff below and following them around the glass, they were not even the slightest bit bothered that we were all standing on a glass platform hanging off a cliff edge some 580 meters up. If you can bring yourself to stand on it the view is amazing and well worth conquering your fear. There is also a lovely coffee shop and souvenir shops.
If you are out and about the traditional houses are worth a visit. They are smart little triangle houses with thatched roofs that used to be the traditional Maderian house many years ago. They are now turned into shops for tourists to visit. There is a gift shop, a flower shop and one that sells food and shots of Poncha (the traditional Madeira drink). The kids liked the houses as in a way they do look like big dolls houses and they are great for having your photo taken next to.
Ponta del sol (point of the sun) is the best town in Madeira to watch the sunset. There is a great restaurant on the beach and another one built into the side of the cliff both overlooking the horizon. There is also stunning views and a walkway going out into the sea so you can look back at the rocky shore. We sat for a good few hours at the restaurant watching the sun set drinking beers will the kids played with the rocks.
When choosing a family holiday destination Madeira should not be overlooked as for a small island there is so many activities to do there. Madeira has more mountain peaks to explore than the one I mentioned above, lots of guided walks, there is a place called the 25 fountains (25 Fontes Falls) which is a group of waterfalls located near Porto Moniz, hopefully we will get to do the walks when the children our a little bit older. Madeira enjoys great weather most of the year however no matter how warmer day it is if you are going up into the mountains take warm close as the temperature up there can drop dramatically.
There is also a water park, casino and amazing restaurants all serving delicious local produce cooked to perfection wherever you go on the island. One of the
favourite meals there is ‘Espetada’ which is chunks of steak that have been skewered sometimes by a flavoured stick then hung in front of you for you to pull off.
In Funchal there is the famous local fish market, although the smell is very strong it is worth having a look on market days as you see lots of fish and get a sense of the size of the fish. We have even seen the remains of a shark head in there, this is not for everyone but if you can stomach it, it is worth a visit.
Throughout the summer in Madeira there is always a festival of some sort going on and also there is a weekly fireworks display down on the harbour as companies compete to win the contract for the world renowned New Years Eve fireworks.
The Madeiran people are all so welcoming and very big on family we often got stopped in the streets and complimented on how beautiful the girls are. We cannot wait to get back to this beautiful Island.
We are lucky and only needed to book flights to Madeira as we had family to stay with so we always book our flights with Easy Jet directly but if you are looking for a hotel as well we have used onthebeach.com a few times for holidays and have always found some good deals on there especially if purchasing flights and hotel together. You can also search hotels separately using Booking.com that I have used a lot in the past as well.
A while ago my sister sent my girls a pack of Amos Glass Deco pens as a present (she does always send them cool presents). I had never heard or seen them before so I was looking forward to trying them out.
Basically they are coloured liquid filled pens that you can use to make beautiful window stickers that can be pealed off and removed easily without leaving a mess.
Each pack comes with a liner pen which you use first to do the outline of your sketch, you then leave it for a few minutes to slightly harden after that you use the coloured pens to fill in your picture. Once done leave them overnight to fully dry after that you just peal your sticker off and place them on your window.
You make your picture on clear plastic sheets that come in the pack along with a few designs you can use. As the sheets are clear it is easy to put a design underneath and trace it.
I also found that plastic wallets are great to use for creating your window sticker and then you can easily put your paper design securely in the wallet.
My girls absolutely loved using the Amos Glass Deco Pens,. We do use them quite a lot and I join in every time they are out.
They are great for window displays as they peel off easily and don’t leave a mess behind. We have used them to make Christmas, Easter and Halloween window stickers and the girls also have some non seasonal ones that stay on their bedroom windows constantly.
I also used the pens quite a lot when I was childminding as an after school activity and they were always a big hit, although it was hard to get the children to wait until the next day to be able to take them home.
I had children as young as 4 years old using the pens, they are great for building motor control in young children and improving the creative flare and design in older children.
If you enjoyed reading my post why not take a look at my other post –
Why! Why do we do it to ourselves. With the beginning of every new year we all make these health and fitness goals that just are not sustainable. It is like we are stuck in a broken record making the same mistakes every year.
I mean, what is it about January that makes us all focus about our health and fitness anyway?
Is it that we have all over indulged too much at Christmas and start to feel guilty so once January hits we go on diets but surely calories don’t count in December, right.
Or it could be that come the 1st January everywhere you go they are selling gym equipment, food supplements and gym clothes, even Aldi best buys are taken over by the January get fit quick idea. Everywhere you look there is adverts for gym membership trying to pressures us to make the change and newspapers and magazines are packed full of articles on how to be super fit and healthy.
I mean how many times have you bought a piece of equipment or gym membership with the best intentions and once January has ended it has gone to waist never to be used again?
Well I can tell you now that you are not the only one!
It turns out that the second Saturday of February is statistically known as ‘fall of the wagon day’ as identified by Citylab and Foursquare research.
To be honest even that is good going we are only on the 4th January and I have already given in on eating healthy and finished a box of Lindt chocolates to myself.
Now I am all for getting healthy and sustaining a fitness routine and I do actively promote these but I feel that every January there is so much pressure put on us to change literally overnight from eating chocolates for breakfast still on 31st December to then be eating avocados and rye bread from the 1st January.
I do want to be healthier and fitter and I do encourage everyone to else as well to take the steps towards living a healthier life. However it needs to be done slowly and over the course of the year so it is more sustainable.
If we ease into it and implement small changes then it will be so much easier to keep. If you are going from doing no exercise at all and then all of a sudden you are doing 5 days a week of exercise I doubt you will be able to keep this going. It is better to start off with one day a week of exercise then as the weeks/months go on slowly increase to 2-3 days.
The same with diet don’t go jumping in on the newest fad diet that you just won’t be able to keep up. Start by making small healthy changes like maybe eating a healthier breakfast, drinking more water and then slowly build on this.
If we can all slowly build on small sustainable health & fitness steps then by next New Year we won’t need to make these radical New Years health resolutions as we will already be at are prime health and fitness levels.
My January small steps that I have made is to start ordering weekly fruit and veg boxes from our local green grocer to ensure we are all getting more in our diet and instead of signing up for gym membership I have signed the whole family back up to National Trust membership to get us back out visiting these beautiful places and going out for walks again around the grounds.
What small steps are you going to make to work on your long term health goals?
I had the pleasure of being asked to review Peter Black’s informative self – help book ‘Cool that Volcano‘.
Pete Black is a registered psychologist with over 16 years of experience working with troubled individuals. He has used his own professional experience and knowledge of emotional management skills, to create this self-help book for parents to help you achieve a emotionally intelligent children.
Cool that Volcano’s core focus is on open communication between child and adult which Peter has then broken down into easy to follow sections explaining step by step how to achieve this and gain emotional intelligence.
The book is broken down into the following sections –
– Understanding Emotions
– Managing Emotions
– Processing Emotions
– Maintaining Emotional Balance
– Effective Modelling
Peter has used Metaphors to describe a child’s emotional state, hence the title of the book. The Volcano is the child’s temperament and the Lava is when a child erupts spewing out negative emotions, he refers to these throughout the book and also uses icebergs as a metaphor for cooling your little volcano’s down.
I found Cool that Volcano easy to read and understand. It is also packed full of helpful tips and advice that is broken down into small steps to help you follow and implement to effectively deal with your child’s emotional state. Peter has written the book in a understanding way that makes you feel at ease. He also sets realistic targets highlighting that changes won’t happen overnight but with a bit of time and practice emotional intelligence is achievable. As well as focusing on our children’s emotional intelligence Peter also talks about the importance of being a good role model by making sure we can control our emotions in difficult situations too and has included some tips to help parents with this.
If you are struggling to handle your child’s emotions then this book is definitely worth reading.
I was given this opportunity to review Hilary Devey Bold as Brass memoir by Books2Door.
Books2door is an online bookshop offering a great range of children’s and adult books at reasonable prices, with great customer service and communication.
Hilary Devey Bold as Brass is a very interesting read. We all know her from Dragons Den and as being an accomplished business women but to hear her story on the highs and down right lows that she has been through to get where she is today is inspiring.
Hilary was taught the lesson of hard graft from a very young age when she was helping out in her family’s pubs from the age of 7 years old and even running shifts alone a few years later.
She had a lonely and troubled childhood being moved around a lot, attending different schools, not having a lot of friends and also seeing her dad go bankrupt and her family losing everything. As well as her troubled childhood she also went through hell with an abusive partner.
She somehow managed to stay strong and through hard work and determination created her haulage company Pall-Ex and grew it to the multi million pound company it is today.
Her story doesn’t end there though she faced a mother’s worst nightmare when she discovered her son was a heroin addicted and went through hell to get him back on the straight and narrow. Not only is she determined in business but when she suffered a stroke that almost killed her, she fought back and defied the odds.
Hilary Devey Bold as Brass is an interesting and inspirational read delving deep into her trials and tribulations and showcasing her amazing can do attitude through anything that life throws at her.
Now I am not a natural speaker and find it easier to hide behind a screen typing than being in front of one or even speaking in person. However when I was asked to be on the show it was an opportunity that I couldn’t turn down. I accepted the offer straight away.
I have to admit from when I accepted the offer until last night when I stepped into that studio I have been so on edge and nerves were seeping in. On the way to the studio my heart was pumping so fast with anxiety and nerves it felt like it was going to pop out of my chest. I had to give myself a stern pep talk in the car to try and relax a bit and stop worrying before going inside.
In the waiting room I was sat listening to Charlie live on the radio interview someone else feeling the butterflies in my tummy start swirling. I was texting Dino saying how nervous I was and he was trying to reassure me I would be fine.
Once I walked into the studio and met with Charlie I felt so much better he was so nice and friendly. As soon as we began talking I relaxed completely and started to feel a bit more confident. It is amazing how quickly fear and anxiety can disappear when you take on those fears.
Charlie was very easy to talk to and genuinely interested in finding out more about me, my blog and children’s books, being interview on BBC radio turned out to be an enjoyable experience.
In the end the interview went really well, I was able to answer all the questions without hesitating or mumbling and got to promote both my blog and my children’s books to the radio audience.
I was on such a high afterwards and buzzing from the experience. I am so glad that I accepted the invitation and pushed through the anxiety to show up and talk on the radio. The accomplishment of being interviewed over the radio will stay with me for a long time, it is an amazing achievement that I am so thank full for the opportunity.
“Everything you have ever wanted is sitting on the other side of fear”. George Addair
As you may have noticed I have not been blogging lately and have had a bit of a break from my blog and social media pages. I have to admit I had so much going on in my life I was really struggling to do it all and I ended up sending less and less time with my family so something had to give and unfortunately that was blogging.
So what has been happening?
Well we decided to put our house up for sale and was going through the marketing process, carrying out stressful Military style deep cleans every time we had a viewing when I was then hit with the news I was being made redundancy at work.
Now it wasn’t an entire shock as I knew my office was closing in March 2020 which would have gave me plenty of time to move and then sort a new job out. However the powers above decided that they would close the office early. One day we were called into a meeting and told that our last day would be 31st October 2019.
Following that meeting my evenings have been filled with job searching and application forms, I can even tell you how many I have done, it has been endless. It has literally taken over my life and left me with not much time for anything else.
So unfortunately blogging has had to take a back seat for a while.
The Good News!
I have now secured a job so no more applications (woohoo) and I am looking forward to getting back to my blog and all my wonderful readers and followers.
I will be working a full time day job from November and when we find a new house we will have the stress of moving so I will be running the blog in between my hectic everyday life so do please bear with me if I am a little slow.
To kick start off getting back into blogging, I have been asked by BBC Somerset to discuss my blog on the radio show Connected with Charlie Taylor . You can catch me live on Thursday 10th October at 8pm talking all things blogging and social media.