Ah, Christmas. Seems like a distant memory as I write this. I had a little break from writing as it was a jam-packed December and new year for The Smiths, but I still want to tell you about one of my festive highlights: The Nutcracker at the British Museum.
I think by now we all know that plastic pollution is a huge world problem and the effects on the environment and marine life are horrific.
It’s hard to know what you can do as an individual and it’s easy to feel powerless. The way I feel is that while my family is four people in 7.6 billion, we can’t sit by and do nothing at all. In the words of David Attenborough following Blue Planet II, “…if we start doing those small steps that are easily achievable, we can, before long, really have an effect.”
I live in Ely which is home to around 20,000 people, and the city is on a mission to reduce the number of single-use plastic bags used in our shops. It’s something everyone can get involved in and I’ve made my small contribution 🙂
As children get older it becomes harder to know what to buy them as gifts. I have a group of friends whose children are the same age as our two, and the year when our eldest children were turning seven, the idea of a book voucher, or gift card, came up.
When I was young I loved getting book vouchers (back then they were actually vouchers, like paper money!) as the whole experience of browsing a bookshop was something I loved – and still do! Nowadays, book vouchers tend to come as a gift card and while it is a great present, it may be a less exciting prospect for a child than something big to unwrap 🙂
In a sleepy corner of the Fens, on the outskirts of the small village of Wimblington, is a destination for a whole day of family fun: Skylark Maize Maze & Funyard. Living just under half an hour away in Ely, it was on our list of activities for a family day out and we got our chance to go this August, thanks to a VIP ticket from the Skylark events team.
The funyard is open all year round with events to coincide with Easter, Hallowe’en, Bonfire Night and Christmas. During the summer there is a very special addition — the maize maze. The 12-acre maze is themed and every year is different. In previous years the maize has featured the BFG and Star Wars, both of which we’d have loved, and this year is no different as the theme is dinosaurs!
During the summer I’ve had the pleasure of volunteering with a brilliant bunch of Cambridge United fans. Together we’ve painted and prepped all corners of The Abbey Stadium ready for the new season. On Day 44 of #100DaysNoTV I took our boys to the ground on the eve of the 2018/19 season to see the fruits of our labour of love. The Abbey was looking at its beautiful best.
At 47,000 acres, Thetford Forest is Britain’s largest lowland pine forest that spreads across the border between neighbouring counties, Norfolk and Suffolk – slap bang in the middle of East Anglia. High Lodge is an activity-packed recreation site within Thetford Forest and is owned by Forestry Commission England.
Being a 50-minute drive from our house, it’s a place where we go for a whole day. There is plenty to do whether you want to be active, take it easy or a bit of both. Adrenaline seekers should head to Go Ape! Founded by Tris and Becs Mayhew back in 2002, High Lodge was its first location. On Day 43 of #100DaysNoTV, I took our family for a Go Ape adventure.
Rob and I love to cook and, mostly, we manage to cook meals from scratch. Our boys can be fussy eaters but one meal they both love is pesto pasta: whole wheat fusilli with a dollop of pesto – until recently, we bought it as it was easier and we believed it was pretty healthy.
I read an article by Which? that changed my mind about shop-bought pesto. Reviewing standard pesto from seven supermarkets, they found all had added ingredients to bulk it out – among these were bamboo fibre, water, sugar and potato flakes. They often replaced traditional ingredients with cheaper alternatives: sunflower oil for olive oil; cashew nuts for pine nuts.
Reading this motivated me to find out how I could make my own pesto. I found a few recipes which I tweaked until I had a version I was happy with.
There’s something special about a trench coat – you can wear it with almost anything, dressing it up or down. It’s a timeless classic. Affordable trench coats can be readily found on the high street. At the other end of the scale, you can spend hundreds, even thousands, on a high-end fashion label.
Spring is always a busy time for our household with all four birthdays falling in a seven-week period, starting with mine in April. This year we also had a wonderful family wedding in May, so it really has been a time of non-stop celebrations! 🙂
Also with an April birthday, twelve days before mine, is my Mum. When I was invited to enjoy a meal at Bill’s restaurant in Cambridge, it was the perfect opportunity to take my foot off the pedal for a while and enjoy a joint birthday lunch.
Time is our most precious commodity – being with people you love is what this life is all about. Modern life challenges our ability to obtain that longed for work–life balance. In what seems like the longest ever ascent from winter to spring, quality family time has been in short supply: Rob started the year with pneumonia 😦 and has been travelling to and from the US with work (thank goodness he has a break from all that for now).
It has made it even more important that we maximise our time at weekends. One thing we love is to get out to the coast: fresh air and space do us all the world of good. When we were chosen by Bumble Campers to have a complimentary campervan for a weekend, there was only one thing we were going to do: find a free weekend and drive to the seaside. 😉