Monday, 22 April 2019

Simply Swim

William is going to the World Scout Jamboree in America this summer and with less than 100 days to go we have started thinking about the kit he will need to take with him. The site in West Virginia looks amazing with and there will be lots of water activities on the various lakes on the site so when I was offered the chance to review some swimwear from the Simply Swim website I looked at swimming shorts for William straight away. 

Simply Swim have a great choice of swimwear and the website is really easy to use. There is a lot of choice but you can easily filter by department, brand, size, colour etc making your final decision much easier. There is a handy size guide which I found useful as sizes do tend to vary on different brands. I knew better than to choose shorts for William, gone are the days when I could buy his clothes and he would wear them! He had a look on the website and chose two pairs of Speedo swimming shorts which will be really practical for camp. The shorts arrived quickly and were well packaged in a plastic bag that easily fitted through the letterbox.

The first pair he chose were the Speedo Gingham Check Leisure 16 inch watershort which have a tailored finish and look quite stylish. They have two front pockets and a button down back pocket and are made from polyester. The fabric uses an environmentally friendly dying method that results in less water, energy and chemical usage, as well as colour that is more resistant to fading. I hate faded swimming costumes/shorts and end up replacing them frequently so I will be keen to see how well these last.

William has tried them on and said they fit well and feel very comfortable. I have had a look at the stitching and they are very well made with no loose threads (another pet hate of mine!) and they will be perfect for the Jamboree.

The second pair he chose were the Speedo Solid Leisure navy shorts. These are a comfortable loose fitting swimming short, ideal for leisure swimming which will be perfect for the water activities on the Jamboree.

These shorts have an elasticated waist with drawstring and again have two front pockets and a rear one. The rear pocket is secured with velcro and again they are very well made.
William wore these to go swimming this weekend and said they are comfortable to wear and dried quickly.

William already has goggles but when I was looking at Simply Swim's website I noticed they have a good range of Speedo Goggles and with prices starting at £11 there is something to suit every budget.

If you are looking for swimwear then the Simply Swim website is a great place to start, there is a huge choice and something for everyone whether it is swimwear for holidays or swimwear for keener swimmers.

Disclaimer - This is a collaborative post with Simply Swim, I was gifted the swimming shorts in order to give an honest review. All words and opinions are our own.

The Monsal Trail

We spent a lovely few days in Derbyshire at the start of the Easter holidays. The weather was glorious and we did lots of walking and cycling. We were staying close to the Monsal Trail which is a cycling/walking route along the former Midland Railway line. The trail is 8.5 miles between Blackwell Mill, Chee Dale and Coombs Road at Bakewell.

The route takes you through the original railway tunnels and it is a really spectacular ride, the scenery is beautiful and the tunnels add to the fun.

As it is a disused railway line it is relatively flat so is perfect for children and there were plenty on the trail on the day we went. I do suspect that in the height of the season it does get very busy, we went mid week and there were lots of people walking and cycling.

There are a number of information boards dotted along the route which were interesting to read and told you a little of the history of the route.

When we reached Bakewell we rode into the town to find a nice spot to have lunch and also take the opportunity to try one of the famous Bakewell puddings! We found a nice bench by the river and sat watching the ducks whilst we ate our picnic.

On the way back we stopped for a well deserved ice cream before tackling the steep climb back up to the main road and our caravan site.

Sunday, 31 March 2019

Quick Tasty Beef Stew

These days it is rare that I leave work before 6pm so I need quick tasty meals so that we get tea at a reasonable time.

I grew up on a farm so we have always eaten a lot of beef and this quick beef stew is one of our favourite meals. I always make double the quantities, using 2lb of steak and then freeze half so that we can have a quick meal on another night.


1lb frying steak cut into strips/pieces
1 tablespoon oil
25g butter
25g plain flour
Half a pint of beef stock
1 tablespoon worcestershire sauce
2 tablespoons of redcurrant jelly
200g sliced mushrooms

To make the stew you fry the steak in the butter and oil until cooked, add the flour and stir until the juices start to thicken.

Add the stock, stirring until thickened and then add the worcestershire sauce and redcurrant jelly.

Finally add the mushrooms and leave to simmer for 15 minutes.

This dish is so easy to make and tastes delicious. I usually serve it with carrots, cauliflower and broccoli and baked potato but it also goes well with mash or new potatoes. 

Beef is a great dish to cook for my family as beef is naturally rich in protein and is a source of iron which helps reduce tiredness and fatigue. Beef provides eight essential vitamins and minerals that support good health and well being.

This post is an entry for the #MeatMatters Challenge, sponsored by Simply Beef and Lamb' Learn more about the benefits of cooking and eating beef and lamb along with recipes ideas and inspiration here

Sunday, 3 February 2019

Snowy Walk

Since Mark was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes we have really upped our walking and have been going up on the fells a few times a week, day or night! I love walking in the dark as it is so peaceful and we rarely see anyone else.

Today we saw more people than we have all year, I think the snow had brought them all out as there were lots of families with sledges. 

We have been up a few times in the snow this year but this was the first time we have been up in daylight and it looked magical on the top where the snow was quite deep.  

Sunday, 2 December 2018

Winter skincare

I have had eczema all of my life and most of the time I manage to keep it under control. I do find that it tends to flare up in winter so I always make sure I moisturise a lot, especially when my skin has been wet. I have tried lots of different products over the years but when I heard that BritMums had a new challenge with Aquaphor by Eucerin I was really interested as it isn't a brand I have tried before. The eczema on my feet is especially bad at the minute so it was perfect timing when my tube of Aquaphor arrived. 

Eucerin Aquaphor Soothing Skin Balm is a real multi-purpose product, as well as using it on my feet I have been using it as a lip balm, for smoothing my cuticles, a hand cream and for protecting my face when I am outside on the fells and working in the garden. Formulated with only seven ingredients it is gentle enough to be used on irritated and sensitive skin. It works by creating a breathable, protective barrier, alowing oxygen and water vapour to circulate to and from the skin, allowing skin to breathe and strengthen its natural barrier function. The Eucerin Aquaphor formula was first introduced in America back in 1925 and has been a household staple ever since.

Over the years I have found that regular application of moisurisers really helps to keep my eczema under control and I have been keeping my Aquaphor in my bag so I can use it whenever I need to.

I have been using the balm on my feet in the morning and evening for the last 2 weeks and I am really pleased at how much better my feet now look. Now I have got into the habit of using it I will continue as I am so impressed with the results. It has calmed the redness and at this years Christmas party I will be able to wear a nice pair of strappy sandals, rather than my normal black tights and shoes that I wear to hide my feet.

This post is an entry for the BritMums #MyAquaphor Challenge, sponsored by Eucerin. Discover the benefits of Eucerin at

Disclosure: We were sent a tube of Eucerin Aquaphor to try. All opinions are our own. 

Friday, 21 September 2018

Blood Brothers Review

A What's Good To Do Review

On Monday night we went to Preston Guild Hall to review Blood Brothers for the What's Good to Do website. We had a fantastic night out and the musical was brilliant, even Mark, who is not a fan of musicals was impressed!

Blood Brothers, written by Willy Russell, tells the story of twins Mickey and Eddie who are separated at birth. Eddie lives a life of privilege with the wealthy Lyons family whilst Mickey stays with his birth mother, Mrs Johnstone, in the slums of Liverpool, eventually taking to a life of crime. The musical tells the story of how they came to be separated, of Mrs Johnstone’s feelings of guilt and how despite not knowing of the other’s existence their paths manage to cross repeatedly becoming best friends, blood brothers, without ever knowing the truth. Eventually they both fall for the same girl leading to tragedy and the truth is uncovered.

Presented by a narrator, the opening scene shows the two brothers dead on the stage with their mother crying over them, he then goes on to present the story and explain what terrible events have brought about this ending. Throughout the musical the narrator talks to the audience but also questions the morality of what the characters are doing, he is always there in the background, watching events unfold almost on our behalf. This works really well and ties the story together. 

Sean Jones as Mickey and Mark Hutchinson as Eddie were cast brilliantly as the two brothers, playing carefree children aged 7 “but nearly 8” through teenage years, taking their first steps into adulthood and finally as adults now having to take responsibility for their actions and decisions. In particular Sean’s depiction of young man struggling with mental health problems really changed the mood of the story and heightened the tension on stage.
The star of the show though has to be Linzi Hateley as Mrs. Johnstone, the struggling single mother of 7 children who makes the horrendous decision to give away one of her babies so that she can afford to feed the others. Almost always on stage she wonderfully shows the agonies of her decision and the love for her children. This acting ability on top of her amazing singing voice makes her a real star.

The stage was transformed into a typical Liverpudlian street scene with a view of the famous Liver Building in the background. It looked effective and was quickly adapted to reflect the different locations in the story.  
Despite tackling the very serious issues of class, poverty and mental health there was plenty of humour and we found ourselves on a rollercoaster of emotions, laughing one minute and almost crying the next.

The musical took place in a packed Charter Theatre which is a great venue with comfortable seating and a good view of the stage. The Guild Hall complex has a range of bars and restaurants available for those wanting to make a night of it and parking is available in the recently modernised multi storey car park which adjoins the Guild Hall.

This was the first time I’ve seen Blood Brothers and I have to say, in my opinion, it is one of the best musicals I have ever seen. Along with a good storyline and catchy songs it also has drama, excitement, humour and is such a good night out. The musical was 3 hours long including the interval and the time seemed to pass in the blink of an eye. The show is on in Preston until the end of the week and then continues its tour of the UK until December. I’d definitely recommend a visit especially if you’ve never seen it before.

We received frr tickets for the purpose of this review.

Friday, 20 July 2018


A couple of years ago Mark's Mum said she had always wanted to climb Snowdon, Mark has been up a few times but I hadn't so we said that we would go with them and make a weekend of it. We did lots of practicing, walking on the local fells to get fit and I am really glad we made the time to fit in all the fell walks as it really did make a difference. Mark's friend has climbed Snowdon a lot so Mark asked him which was the best route to take and we chose a quieter route setting off from Rhyd Ddu station. We arrived just before 9am and although the car park was filling up we managed to find a space. 

Even at 9am it was lovely and warm and the forecast was perfect all day so we left the water proofs in the car, slapped on the sun lotion and set off.

The views on the walk were amazing, Snowdonia is such a lovely area and I never tire of the scenery.

Most of the walk was on tracks but there were a couple of scrambles which Luke enjoyed.

It was a very nice walk to the top, it took us about 3.5 hours but we did stop a lot to look at the views and have a drink. It was so hot we needed to make sure we stayed hydrated! 

As we approached the summit you could see the other paths leading to the top and we couldn't believe the number of people who were on the tracks. We had only met a few people on our route and all of a sudden there were people everywhere! When we reached the very top it was even worse because the train had just arrived and there were hundreds of people sat chatting and eating lunch. I really didn't like the top at all, there were just too many people about and after eating our lunch we quickly set off again. 

The descent took much longer as it was so hot and there were a lot more people about. As soon as we left the top the cloud rose again and we had brilliant blue sky for the rest of the day. We had a really nice day and it was good to spend time together. We finished the day with a nice meal at a pub and are planning to try Ben Nevis next!