Wednesday, 26 November 2014

Sailing the Broads to Sailing Abroad

Living near the Norfolk Broads we had always said we were silly to not own a boat, and it was always a dream of ours.
In the beginning we wanted a day boat, just something with an electric engine where we could sit and just drift along the river.
Then my husband mentioned a yacht. At first I thought it was something he would get over, but soon enough we were looking around for a yacht.
Although, there was one problem. We couldn't sail. I saw this as a massive issue, and I worried about having small children and a day boat let alone small children and a yacht. My husband didn't see this as an issue, and instead saw the positive side. He saw how amazing it would be for our children to grow up on the water, for us to do something together as a family, for us all to share the same hobby, and for something that the boys would hopefully pass on to their children in the future.

I had to ignore my doubts and follow my husbands passion, if we didn't like it we would sell the boat. That was our plan.


In January this year we met "The One". Our 1936 Broads Yacht. A wooden beauty, built locally, and perfect for our family. In fact we all fell in love with her as soon as we saw her and within a week she was ours. And in no time at all we had found a sailing instructor and had booked a weeks course with him a few months later.


I didn't think I would be able to stand on the boat when she was in the water, I didn't think I would be able to steer her, sail her, walk to the bow and stand there enjoying the breeze and the beautiful scenery as we sailed along, I certainly didn't think I would ever be hanging over the side performing a man overboard drill feeling so determined to fish a fender out from the water using a heavy handle with a hook even if it meant me falling in (thankfully I didn't fall in and I managed to save our "victim").
But, I did it all. And I enjoyed it. I fell in love with sailing. Something I didn't think was ever possible. It even surprised my husband. I am a self-confessed wimp and if I can sail, then anyone can.
But not only that, our children fell in love with sailing too. 
This year we had so much fun together, learning new things, just spending time experiencing the water, the wind, and working together as a team.


We've sailed in the hot UK sun, in strong winds, in light rain and in thunder storms, so in terms of our first year of sailing we've really experienced a lot.

One thing that kept coming up when we spoke to our new sailing friends was to experience sailing abroad and after our first season of sailing on the Norfolk Broads I feel sailing on an ocean or sea would be amazing.

The first new experience would be going on a plane. A first for us as a family of four and Harry's first time.

Waking up in the morning and having a fresh breakfast, looking out to sea and seeing various sail boats awaiting their sailors for the day. Knowing we would have the opportunity to relax by a pool, explore the island, resort or town we are in, or indulge in our hobby but knowing it would be completely different to what we are used to.

A new boat, a new breeze, new waters. New experiences.

Instead of looking around and not being able to see the bottom of the river but seeing clear waters, and various sea life and fish underneath as you sail through the breeze sounds like a dream. To step off the boat into clear warm water, walking onto a warm sandy beach rather than avoiding any part of your body touching the Broads because you have no idea what that thing floating by just was, and stepping onto a bank which is generally covered in goose or swan mess and definitely requires suitable footwear. (Don't get me wrong, I adore the Norfolk Broads but there are the odd downsides.)
The boys being able to experience sailing away from us, and of course us enjoying a sail whilst the boys are off sailing with other children or making friends in a holiday club.

Swimming in the sea or relaxing on the sand and watching boats just beyond us as the sun hits our skin.

Sitting down at dinner in the evening, looking forward to talking about our day, going over everything we had learnt, dancing at the disco, or playing games put on by an entertainment team. Or a late night walk along the pool, or down on the beach. Looking out to sea and wondering how just over a year ago we couldn't sail, how we hadn't even considered sailing, and how now here we are sailing on the sea. But not any sea, the Mediterranean Sea.
Going to bed and looking forward to another day of adventure and excitement. Either being tourists or being sailors. Or passing a new sailing course, how amazing would that be? Going on a beautiful hot holiday and coming home with an extra qualification?!

Owning a boat was our dream. Sailing became our dream. And now, we dream to be able to sail somewhere different, and to experience sailing something different too.



This post is my entry in the hope of becoming a #markwarnermum in 2015 as part of the Mark Warner ambassador programme.

Wednesday, 19 November 2014

Hotter Shoes For Men | Review

I am one of those shoppers who, if visiting the supermarket for a couple of essential items, will happen to come away with a new nail polish, lipstick or mascara that was definitely not on the shopping list.
My husband is the same, although not with cosmetics obviously. And his item of choosing has now become a long running joke. Approximately every 6-8 weeks he will come home with a new pair of shoes, all excited that they only cost him £8. Despite my eye-rolling and telling him there is a clear reason why they are £8 he is still delighted with his bargain.

After my recent visit and review of Hotter Shoes in Norwich I felt I needed to do something to convince him that he could do much better than those £8 shoes. And believe me this is a big challenge.
After showing him the range of shoes they have for men he was up for the idea of going along to the store to see if there were any that could tempt him away from his cheaper favourites.


Our aim was to find some "rugged" shoes or boots, which are durable and not too clunky. A tough enough sole for wearing outdoors but not too "workman/hiking boot". Something for outdoor adventures, sailing in particular, but also something that could be worn to the pub or on a date night.

He then decided he wanted a boot style, something I've been trying to get him to buy for so long. I think the trends around at the moment when it comes to mens footwear is fantastic. I remember a time when it was just "cool" [is that word still cool or not?] for them to wear trainers pretty much anywhere and everywhere.
My husband isn't a trainers kind of guy.
So the trend of a smart shoe or boot which can be worn with a casual outfit suits him perfectly.

By looking online we had already narrowed down his list of boots to try out to the Focus Boots and the Brett Boots. I think we both preferred the Focus boots looking online, however my husband still wanted to try the Brett boots too, and as soon as his slipped his foot in he had his Hotter moment.
He liked them so much that he didn't even bother trying on any others!

Despite initially liking the lighter brown he instead chose the dark brown grain. He felt this was more versatile, smarter and less likely to show up any kinds of stains or marks.

I didn't want to influence my husbands thoughts on the shoes, or on the brand, and was instead interested to hear what he had to say and what his impressions were.
He said:

You can see and feel that these are quality shoes.
I like the different designs and I'm impressed by the variety and ranges available. It's nice to see colours other than the standard brown and black, both with the plum colours and the different shades of brown available. (This is something that impressed me too. I was really pleased that Hotter have spread the Autumnal colours used in their women's range into the men's range also.)
This is somewhere I would shop again.

Now, being completely honest, he did gasp a little at the price. And I think people do tend to do this nowadays simply because there are shops out there who provide a cheaper alternative.
However, we need to consider the quality of shoes and comparing these to a cheaper version, which are likely to come out on top?
It's a worthwhile investment to spend a little more money on shoes which will not only fit better, and look after your feet, but also last a lot longer.

After leaving the Hotter store we headed to my mother-in-laws for lunch. We told her of my husbands new boots and she in turn told us that her favourite boots which she has had for a couple of years are from Hotter.
So there we go, a family of Hotter fans!

Now....when is the children's range coming out?


My husband was given a pair of boots for the purpose of this review.

Wednesday, 12 November 2014

10 Things To Do in Autumn


1. Collect pinecones. Last year started a new obsession for me. I love collecting pine cones of different shapes and sizes and using them as decoration around the house. I have a couple of bowls full of them and also save some to decorate at Christmas.

2. Make chocolate apples. Chocolate dipped apples are so easy and fun to make with children. Also, it's an apple therefore one of your five a day right?! Chocolate can be healthy, see.

3. Autumn is Halloween session and the supermarkets are full of pumpkins. Whether you carve them or decorate with glue and glitter, a must on any Autumn "must do" list is to have a homemade decorated pumpkin.

4. Kick leaves. Isn't there some kind of law that as soon as there is a big pile of red, orange and brown leaves you have to run through and kick them and throw them around? No. That should totally be a rule.

5. Watch Hocus Pocus. Following on from number 3, Hocus Pocus is a must in the Autumn right?

6. Buy some new wellies. I love an excuse to buy new shoes or boots. This year my wellies of choice are Wellibobs from Joules (surprise, surprise!). These are so comfortable and perfect for all day wear.

7. Make mulled cyder. If you believe mulled wine should only be for Christmas, and winter, then mulled cider/cyder is a fantastic alternative. In fact, I kind of prefer it to mulled wine.

8. Make the best hot chocolate, add cream, marshmallows and chocolate shavings, and snuggle in the warm.

9. Make S'mores. This seems to be an American craze which is becoming a lot more popular in the UK. Enjoy the great outdoors, and make a fire either in your garden or in a safe outdoor space using firelighters, firewood and kindling from Certainly Wood. Grab a blanket, some mulled cyder, and some loved ones and enjoy the warmth from the fire.

10. Test your heating. With the colder weather creeping up most of us turn our heating on for the first time. So depressing but oh so cosy too.



We were sent a S'mores kit for the purpose of this review.

Monday, 10 November 2014

Constant

Friendships to me have never been high on my list of priorities.
To say I have had a bad experience with all of my friendships would be correct. I have been incredibly unlucky.
In 29 years I have learnt a lot about people, and a lot about myself. But the main thing I've learnt is that people are unpredictable.

The majority of my friendships now are online. Some of these friendships will always just be online, with the odd hello and chat at a blog conference or event, and some are friendships that have crossed over into the real world.
This is one of the best things about blogging for me, and the fact that I have been able to make these friendships and meet people who I maybe wouldn't have met in real life, away from blogging.

I can be too taken in by people. And I think this is something I am constantly learning.
I get too sucked into this persona that is projected via blogs, and Instagram photos. I believe that these people are being completely real and showing themselves, when in reality they are making the most of this perfect life which they can play out online.
They can be the person they always wanted to be. The sweet girl, the girl who always says what is on her mind, the confident one, the one who is always positive, the one who can do no wrong, the one who is everyone's friend.
But it doesn't take long for these persona's to be crushed and, in my opinion, you can only be the character you want to be for a short amount of time, and in the end people will either see through it or you will show your true side.

I've been blogging now for 3 and a half years and I can say that I am in a happy place when it comes to particular friendships. And in particular that these friendships, although working fine online and through other means of communication, also require some actual real life interaction.
Not so much in a "this friendship will not work if we don't see each other", but more of a "I really need to see you properly" kind of way.
Actually sitting face to face, and hearing each others voices. Being around each other. Those tiny awkward silences, the looks you give each other which can not be expressed via an emoji.
Real life interaction to remind you and reassure you of what is real.

There are so many benefits to online friendships. For me, the biggest benefit is that I am able to meet people who I wouldn't have met before. People who live miles away from me. People I wouldn't meet at the childrens centre, or at work.
I love meeting people at blog conferences, but I think these are mostly down to chance. The best thing for me, is someone finding you, or you finding someone else, on social media and choosing to then contact them, choosing to look at their blogs, choosing to almost make that next step to meet up, be it at a blog conference or somewhere away from blogging completely.

For so long I have hoped for a constant friendship. A friendship similar to the ones I envy in others. A friendship where I feel I can be myself, and a friendship where I feel the other person/s are completely themselves.
Everything is out in the open. No judging, and complete honesty is key.
I am a soppy person. I will tell my friends I love them. I miss them. I will tell them how much they mean to me. And a true friend will accept how I am, even if they are not the same. They won't tell me not to say those things, or change the subject, but at the same time they can take the mickey out of me being that way.

I sometimes sit and cry. Yes, I know, is there anything I don't cry about?!
I cry tears of sadness at not being able to see those friends often enough. Tears at the distance between us.
But I also cry tears of happiness. Happiness that I have found true friendship. Happiness that despite the distance, we are closer than I ever could have hoped.

The happiness that is constant.

Adjectives

1. not changing or varying; uniform; regular; invariable.

2. continuing without pause or letup; unceasing.

3. regularly recurrent; continual; persistent:

4. faithful; unswerving in love, devotion, etc.:

5. steadfast; firm in mind or purpose; resolute.

6. Obsolete. certain; confident.


Sunday, 9 November 2014

A Carnivores Low Calorie Alternative | Quorn Review

My husband is very much of the caveman variety.
"I am man. Man eats meat"
I very rarely get away with giving him a meatless meal. I have to try and include meat in some form to every dish. A quiche Lorraine has to be served with rashers of bacon, or a chicken breast.

Back when I was in high school and taking my food technology GCSE we had to put together a piece of coursework and a menu for an in flight meal.
My chosen meal was a simple sausage and mash. As part of the coursework we had to put together a survey, buy some ingredients and put together blind taste tests.
Of the 5 different sausages I selected, there was a clear winner, one which actually surprised us all.
Quorn.

My husband won't even consider the idea of eating Quorn, whereas I'm open minded to it. I can easily live without meat if I have to. The advantages for me are in terms of calories, and with my "lifestyle change" I am trying to reduce my calorie intake where possible. Substituting meat for quorn is an easy alternative.

This week I introduced the boys to Quorn. I created meals they usually eat and like, and was interested to see if their reaction was any different. The results were mixed.

We bought some Swedish style meatballs, sausages and mince.
The meatballs were served with macaroni cheese, something the boys will usually eat in record time. The meatballs were ok at first, but were quite spicy so the boys only ate a couple before the taste became too much. These were nice and I don't think the taste really differed too much from beef meatballs we usually buy.

The biggest hit was the mince. I served this up in a lasagne which is the boys favourite. They knew that something was different with the taste but couldn't put their finger on what. They ate the lasagne said it was something they would like again, although it isn't better than the usual lasagne we make.

So in terms of feeding Quorn to my family in the future, I'm not sure it's something I would do because it doesn't seem necessary when they are perfectly happy with meat.
I would only purchase Quorn again if I wanted to reduce the calories in a meal for me.

For recipe ideas follow Quorn on their youtube channel.
 

We were sent vouchers to purchase Quorn for the purpose of this review.