Wednesday, 10 July 2019

My work trip to Ethiopia


Last year I travelled to Ethiopia. My academic background is in public/global health and at the time I was working at Brighton and Sussex Medical School on a project focusing on neglected tropical diseases in the country. I had been to North Africa before including Morocco, Tunisia and Egypt but had never been to Sub-Saharan Africa so it was an exciting trip. This was also my first time working on a project specialising in a rare neglected tropical disease on the foot/legs. I didn’t know what to expect from Ethiopia. Sadly, the country came to focus in the 1980s with the Band Aid movement because of the widespread famine affecting the country which left 1.2 million people dead. Thankfully those days are long gone and friends who had visited told me the country is vibrant and booming. They were right!
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Thursday, 27 June 2019

Updating my summer garden


It’s the time of year when the sun comes out and the long warm days allow you to spend weekends and school holidays relaxing in the garden. I do love having a garden but because we are close to so many parks and Brighton beach we don’t spend that much time out there. We are also moving house soon but will also have a garden in our new place. I’m looking forward to a change of scenery and adding some bits and bobs to make our new garden unique. Here are some of the things I plan to do.

Adding Garden Furniture
We have a table and chairs in the garden but it’s all a bit dated and could do with some updating. My dream home would include a garden sofa set and sun lounger, around the pool obviously! I’d also have a little garden stove or chiminea for cooler evenings. I recently came across Fishpools which is a leading furniture brand in the South East stocking an amazing range of garden sets. Have a look at their website for some garden furniture inspiration!



Hanging mosaics 
A few years ago I went through an arty phase, making and selling mosaic crafts. I have a lot of mosaic mirrors hanging around the house. I also made some mosaic hangings for the garden. They add some creativity and colour to the garden and are a great object to make with kids! Pip was given a mosaic set last year and he loved making them. That was using stickers but I plan to make some others with Pip for outdoor use. If you do make some for the garden make sure you use the right base and materials so they don’t fall off once it rains (speaking from experience!). Here’s a great guide from the British Association for Modern Mosaics.

Fill the garden with colour!
When we moved into our current house the garden was already mature with so many unique varieties of flowers and plants. The previous owners were clearly good gardeners because every spring and summer the garden erupts with colour. There are snowdrops, tulips, several different coloured rose bushes, irises and at the moment campanulas which bloom across the whole garden. It’s gorgeous and I will use it as a model for any future house I live in. Colour makes such a big difference.




A pretty shed
We have a shed but have never got round to painting it. I see some beautiful sheds on Pinterest and imagine one day I’ll create some type of office/music den in the shed, a little peaceful hideaway out in the garden. I’d also love to create an organised and tidy shed where all the garden objects are stored neatly. I don’t even want to describe what state my current shed is in! Have a look at my Pinterest board for my ideal shed.

Fruit/veg patch
I love growing my own fruit and veg and have done it for years now. I think it’s a lovely thing to do with kids showing them the whole process from seed to fruit. As we are moving house I haven’t grown any from scratch this year but we might buy some tomatoes plants for our new garden. Do you grow your own veg?

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*This post contains a sponsored link. All words are my own. 

Do you have a garden? What does your garden look like at this time of year? I’d love to hear your thoughts.



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Friday, 24 May 2019

Bounty Personal Data Breach: Seek Compensation with Bott and Co!


If you’re a parent it’s likely you have heard of Bounty. When I was pregnant they provided free baby packs with newborn guides and baby vouchers. They also provided newborn photography in hospital, which was somewhat controversial at the time. In fact, we had some of those newborn shots taken when little Pip was just a day old and I have one framed on the wall! Gosh that was nearly 6 years ago now!

You may have heard that Bounty was recently fined £400,000 for illegally sharing personal information of more than 14 million people to 39 other organisations including marketing agencies such as Acxiom, Equifax, Indicia and the telecommunications company, Sky. Bounty shared over 34.4 million data records between June 2017 to April 2018, an illegal breach of the 1998 Data Protection Act. Information shared with external companies included children's date of birth, pregnancy status and postal and email addresses.

Considering Bounty is a company supposedly offering support to new parents at a vulnerable time in their lives, it is shocking that they sold and shared so much confidential and personal information to third parties. The Information Commissioner's Office (ICO) described this as an "unprecedented" case because of the large number of files shared.


Despite being fined £400,000 this is very little by today’s standards because the fine was given before the introduction of GDPR regulations. Under new data laws, if the same thing happened, a company would now be fined up to £17 million pounds! By illegally selling personal data, Bounty made huge financial gains in this way and yet still operate today. I find it quite shocking that a company continues to operate after committing such a clear breach of the law.

Have you been affected and are you entitled to compensation from Bounty? The award law firm Bott and Co is a multi-award winning solicitors based in Cheshire. They are starting a group legal claim against Bounty and would like to seek monetary compensation for any parents or parents-to-be involved. If you think you have been affected you can register your interest an sign up here https://www.bottonline.co.uk/consumer-claims/bounty-data-breach-claims/claim-form. Bott and Co are passionate about this consumer rights issue and as such are working on a no win, no fee basis.

To find out more information please click on the links below.

- https://www.bottonline.co.uk/consumer-claims/bounty-data-breach-claims
- https://www.bottonline.co.uk/blog/pregnancy-club-bounty-data-breach
- https://www.bottonline.co.uk/consumer-claims/bounty-data-breach-claims/claim-form

If you think you may have been affected please do sign up. It's time companies are held accountable for their actions.

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*This is a sponsored post. All opinions are my own.

What do you think about Bounty’s breach of the Data Protection Act? I'd love to hear your thoughts! 

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Thursday, 16 May 2019

5 tips for frugal living


I’ve written a few posts on saving money and living frugally and like many things, the more you do it the easier it gets. We live in a consumer society where we spend, spend, spend but if you’re careful and do some research you can save £££ on your monthly outgoings. Here are five tips for frugal living.
 
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Wednesday, 8 May 2019

A holiday by the sea: top family-friendly spots in Europe



Summer is quickly approaching which means it is time to start planning and booking the perfect holiday. A family favourite destination of mine is certainly Europe, as it is jam packed with beautiful destinations and attractions perfect for family travel. From cobblestoned streets to sandy white beaches the below are a few family-friendly European destination suggestions. 
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Wednesday, 17 April 2019

A family day out at Hever Castle & Gardens


Last week we visited Hever Castle and Gardens in Kent. Attractions at the site include the historic castle built in the 13th century, the stunning gardens, scenic lake, three play areas, a maze, military museum and miniature model houses. Being the Easter Holidays we also took part in two Easter trails and saw the many multi-coloured tulips in bloom! We arrived at Hever Castle early to make the most of the day. It’s an hour’s drive from Brighton and just 30 minutes from central London. It’s a big site but easy to walk across with a five year old! There are cafes dotted around the grounds and lots of pretty places to sit and stop. There is a lot to see though so I recommend arriving early! Here are our trip highlights:
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Monday, 25 March 2019

A guide to getting pregnant



I can’t believe Pip will be turning six soon! Time flies but at the same time, it feels like yesterday that I was counting days and dates in my diary wishing I was pregnant. It happened eventually but it did take a while and longer than I had expected! At the same time, I remember everyone around me seemingly getting pregnant instantly. Yes, there are couples who conceive at the drop of a hat but I know now, especially being a parent blogger and hearing so many stories, that a lot of people do struggle!

According to the NHS, 1 in 7 couples experience difficulty conceiving, affecting approximately 3.5 million people in the UK. Some people experience depression and isolation with the thought of nowhere to turn for advice or support. But there are support lines and organisations that can help. I hadn’t heard of the charity, Fertility Network UK until I started writing this blog post. They provide a free support line on 01213-235025 providing information and advice from a trained nurse.
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Thursday, 14 March 2019

20 tips for moving house


This year I'll be moving home! It's partly exciting and partly scary. I haven't moved in a while but I'm looking forward to the experience. It ties in with my word for the year which is action and I thought this is the year to move. I've started decluttering and several repair jobs have been carried out recently so the house is ready! However, I'm sure I could do a lot more to prepare for the actual move. I asked fellow bloggers for essential advice. Here are 20 tips for moving house!
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Wednesday, 13 February 2019

A Weekend in Portsmouth: Historic Dockyard, Mary Rose Museum & Spinnaker Tower

HMS Warrior at the Historic Dockyard
A few weekends ago we decided to go to Portsmouth. I had been meaning to take Pip there for a while to visit the Historic Dockyard and as we rarely travel west from Brighton (usually north to London or Cambridge), we planned a last minute weekend getaway. Spontaneous trips are often the best! The weather was forecast to be cold and rainy but that didn’t put us off. We visited the main tourist attractions consisting of the Historic Dockyard, Mary Rose and the Spinnaker Tower. We also decided to stay overnight in the Ibis budget hotel which we got for a bargain at £39 for a family room and breakfast!
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Wednesday, 30 January 2019

6 plans for the year


This is a year of action and I’ve actually put that to good use in January! There are several things I want to do this year and I thought I'd share some of my plans/goals.

Keep organised 
I’ve feeling super motivated at the moment and it’s a good feeling. I’ve decluttered and sorted out loads of things in the house and submitted my tax return well before the deadline this year, well 5 days before haha! I'm back to writing a daily dairy to keep track of everything I do and I make a quick to-do-list every morning. I was sent the beautiful ADEXE Meek Petite Rosegold watch at the start of the year and absolutely love it! Since losing my other watch last summer I’ve relied on my phone for the time but having a watch makes such a difference to keeping organised. I’ve always worn leather straps but love the hand-made stainless mesh band. It is honestly the prettiest watch I have owned! I’m delighted to be giving any watch from the ADEXE collection away on my twitter page on Friday so make sure to check my tweets that day for a chance to win one! 


Move house
At some point we will be moving house and I’m excited. I’ve never really fallen in love with my house so I’m looking forward to finding somewhere I really like. I have a good idea of what I want and am looking forward to decorating a new home and a change of scenery!

Meditate
I’ve mentioned meditation on the blog before and it’s a great way to relax, focus and calm your thoughts. It has so many health benefits and when I do practise regularly I really notice the difference. My aim is to meditate at least once a day. If you haven't tried it here are 20 scientific reasons to start mediating


Book a European holiday 
We travelled to India last year and I also went on a work trip to Ethiopia so I had lots of exotic adventures. I'd love to visit Europe again this year. We’ve been on city breaks to Venice and Amsterdam and I’d love to take Pip slightly further afield to Turkey or Greece. It’s been years since I’ve visited either country and I’ve love to visit somewhere I haven’t been to such as the picturesque Santorini! I’ve heard so many good things about the island including crystal clear blue water. Did you know you can hire your very own luxury Catamaran Santorini and sail around with friends and family as you choose! You can even hire your own captain and gourmet chef! How about that for a perfect holiday!

Swim
My two main sports are swimming and badminton and I go through phases of focusing on one over the other. In 2018, I played a lot more badminton which is fun because it’s a social sport and I play in a club and always in doubles. But I do miss swimming regularly so I’m going to aim to go regularly from now on. Pip is also a great little swimmer for his age (5 years) and plan to take him to the pool more too.

Learn a new language
I’ve learned quite a few foreign words over the years including French, Bengali & Arabic and although I can have basic conversations in these languages I am not fluent in any of them. It would be great to learn a new skill and be able to speak another language like a native. Using the Duolingo or FluentU app can be a great way to learn at home, or try private one-to-one sessions from someone like languagetrainers.co.uk. I would love to learn Bengali properly as all of my Indian side of the family speak it. What languages can you speak fluently?


*This is a collaborative post. All words are my own.

Many thanks to ADEXE for gifting me the beautiful watch!

What are your plans/goals for the year? I'd love to hear your thoughts ☺





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Wednesday, 23 January 2019

Packing Tips for a Winter Trip


Isn't it so cold at the moment? At this time of the year, getting away for a few days does you the world of good. Even if you do not go somewhere warm, a change of scene is always nice. It lifts your spirits, re-energises you and allows you to re-connect with those you travel with. This was definitely the case when we visited Portsmouth last weekend (blog post to follow soon). To get the most out of a winter break, you need to take a slightly different approach to packing. If you do not pack the right clothing you can end up feeling too cold to be able to do everything you would like to. So, without further ado, here are my cold weather packing tips.

Pack so that you can dress in layers
A week or so before you are due to go, pop over to somewhere like Jacamo and buy yourself a couple of new long-sleeved shirts. They are very versatile items of clothing, which makes them perfect for a trip. On warmer days, you can just wear your shirt as normal, with jeans or trousers. But, when it is cold, provided you have chosen one that is big enough, you will be able to wear several layers of clothing. Wearing a t-shirt, followed by a shirt and a jumper provides you with three layers, between which warm air will be trapped. If you are not sure of the best way to layer up for warmth, you might want to read this article. It explains why dressing in layers really does keep you warm and gives you the advice you need to choose the right materials for this way of dressing to be most effective.


A good coat and footwear
The right footwear and a good-quality coat are essentials. You need to be sure that both items are designed to keep you both dry and warm. Your coat needs to be at least showerproof and the weave of the fabric needs to be tight enough to keep the wind out. Ideally, you want a coat that can be zipped or buttoned up to just under your chin. Consider buying one that has a hood. Generally speaking, detachable hoods are the most practical option. You need a pair of comfortable closed in trainers, shoes or boots. They have to be big enough to enable you to put on an extra pair of socks, when necessary. It is also worth choosing footwear that has reasonably thick soles. Doing this makes a huge difference to how cold your feet will feel, when you have to stand around in a queue. It is also worth making sure that the soles are grippy enough.


The little things matter
It really is worth taking the time to pack little items like a hat, gloves and a scarf. Plus, at least 3 pairs of thick socks and 3 pairs of thin ones. That way, provided you are prepared to wash as you go, you can wear two layers on your feet every day. You need one set to wear, one drying and a spare set is what you need at the very least. If you are travelling to a very cold place, consider extra items like hand warmers and ear muffs.

Packing for a sunny winter break
If you do want to get some sun during your winter vacation, don’t worry, I’ve got you covered too. You can read my warm weather packing tips here.

*This is a collaborative post.

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Have you been on any winter trips recently? Do you have any other tips you can add? ☺





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Friday, 18 January 2019

My word for 2019


I like the idea of setting realistic intentions and having a themed word for the year. My word for 2016 was CHANGE and for 2017 it was GROWTH and it's funny looking back at these words and the years that followed. Both words definitely fit with each year and 2016 was life changing in many ways. Similarly, 2017 was a year of growth and we had some great moments. I didn't set a word for 2018 but instead wrote 18 goals for 2018 and I think I actually fulfilled most of these. Except knitting a jumper!

For a combination of reasons including Pip getting older (and getting older myself), I've had some kind of epiphany lately and I know what I want from life. I've always believed in having a good life/work balance and aiming high. However, due to certain factors, there have been times when I've felt really stuck (as in more stuck than I have ever felt in my life) and it's a horrible feeling. One thing I've come to realise lately, perhaps more than ever, is that if you really want to do something you just have to just go for it, look forward and have the belief that everything will be OK. It's great if you get support along the way but ultimately it's down to you and only you. With this in mind my word for 2019 is ACTION. Wish me luck!

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Do you have a word for 2019? I'd love to hear your thoughts.



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Friday, 4 January 2019

WIN 2 x tickets to the Universal Orlando Resort™


Happy New Year! Wow, it's 2019 and I can feel it's going to be an exciting one! To celebrate the new year, I have teamed up with Ocean Holidays to run a competition offering an amazing giveaway - 2 x tickets to the Universal Orlando Resort™ in USA worth £524!

I went to Universal Orlando on a family holiday when I was just 10 and would love to return and take Pip one day! I also travelled to Orlando again in my early twenties visiting the amazing Disney World which was so much fun! Orlando is known for the theme parks but there is also a wonderful range of activities in the area and something for everyone including shopping malls, exquisite restaurants, art galleries and museums and beautiful beaches within driving distance.
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