A Little Pampering

I’m the first to admit I love being pampered. If given the choice between:

a) Going to watch a football match

b) Going to a nice spa

It would be B every time. I kind of hate myself for being that female stereotype but while Mr P watches F1 (his TV sport of choice) I will usually take myself off for a bath. You know the score: bubbles, a Jo Malone candle, Radio 2 playing and a scroll through Twitter to see what 998 of my closest friends are up to. (FYI I rarely admit to being in the bath while on social media – people picturing me naked isn’t good for them and it isn’t good for me)

In the same way that I encourage my four-year-old daughter to play football and play with train sets, I kind of wish I was into watching sport. Just so I could be all YEAH screw you stereotypes. I’m a feminist and I like sport.

But actually, I’m a feminist who doesn’t particularly enjoy playing or watching sport and that’s OK (ooh apart from when Wimbledon is on, but everyone watches that, don’t they? And it’s a good excuse to eat strawberries and cream.)

It doesn’t mean I’m any less of a feminist. I can still desire equality and turn my nose up at football. I can teach my daughter that she can be a scientist or an engineer, and still love to be pampered.

So when Betfair offered to send me a package from Pamper Parcels to use while Mr P is watching sport, I kind of hated myself for getting a bit excited. That hatred was short-lived though, when this package arrived…

Pamper Parcels box

A beautiful wooden box with a lid that slides off to reveal a whole array of goodies. Chocolate, an Aroma Works scented candle (“It smells like Thai food” said Mr P, when he sniffed the lemongrass scent), a bath bomb, Burts Bees lip balm, shower gel, body cream, posh biscuits, even posher popcorn – loads of gorgeous bits.

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Things to do in Berkshire

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Basildon Park

Now under the care of the National Trust, this Grade I country house was built between 1776 and 1783 in the Palladian style – a European style of architecture derived from and inspired by the designs of the Venetian architect Andrea Palladio. Basildon Park has had a number of owners including the British Government when it was used as a convalescent hospital and barracks during the World Wars.

Gifted to the National Trust in 1978, today house has undergone major restoration – the elegant interior is a must see. Alongside the fabulous architectural fixtures and fittings throughout the house there are fine paintings, fabrics and furniture to enjoy. Basildon Park lit up the small screen in ITV’s Downton Abbey, the London Season, 2013.

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Source: nationaltrust.org.uk

The Living Rainforest

Approximately 14.4 miles from Reading, The Living Rainforest is an indoor greenhouse run by the Trust for Sustainable Living which is home to a tropical rainforest, popular as an ecological centre, educational centre and visitor attraction. The Living Rainforest has an emphasis on sustainable development and sustainable living to conserve the world’s disappearing forests and threatened ecosystems.

With over 700 different species of plants and animals the centre has received a number of grants resulting in an acclaimed education programme – having attracted 20,000 schoolchildren to the centre in 2010-11, and is now widely regarded as one of the UK’s leading eco-attractions.

Legoland Windsor Resort

If you are out with the children in Berkshire nothing beats a trip to Legoland, offering rides and games themed by these well-loved children’s building bricks. Don’t miss the Imagination Centre with its educational attractions Build & Test Workshops, Lego Mindstorms NXT-based Lego Mindstorms Workshop and Robolab Workshop for a futuristic experience.

With 11 themed areas you and the family can enjoy exploring the Kingdom of the Pharaohs, The Land of the Vikings and Pirates Landing – each offering their own unique fun-filled rides and entertainment. If you have young children be sure to visit Duplo Valley with activities such as Splash Safari and the Duplo train for little ones to enjoy. See Choice Hotel’s Guide to Legoland for more information.

Museum of Reading

Housed in Reading Town Hill the Museum of Reading showcases the history of this Berkshire Town and its related industries. The Museum is open from 10am – 4pm from Tuesday to Saturday and is free to enter.

There are 8 principle galleries to explore, my favourites include ‘Reading: People & Place’ which documents the history of Reading from the 6th Century Saxon settlement through to today and The Bayeux Gallery which contains an extraordinary replica of the famous Bayeux Tapestry (my favourite exhibit) together with information on the history of Saxon migration and Viking raids in the local area.

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Source: universityproducts.com

Kennet and Avon Canal

Made up of 87 miles of waterway the Kennet and Avon Canal flows from Bristol to Bath via the River Avon before linking it to the River Kennet at Newbury. From there it flows to Reading on the River Thames and incorporates 105 locks along the way. A stand out view of the Canal is along Caen Hill where 29 locks made up the Devizes flight.

This stretch of waterway has been developed after restoration work finished in 1990 as a popular heritage tourism destination for boating, canoeing, fishing, walking and cycling, and is also important for wildlife conservation with species such as the water vole, dragonflies and damselflies and a wide range of water fowl making their homes along the canal.

Thanks to Choice Hotels for working with Not Another Mummy Blog

The Secret Of Being A Successful Blogger

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What makes you a successful blogger? How do you know you’ve “made it”?

I’ve heard a lot of talk of this recently. People sharing tips and and talking about their achievements. Which is great for new bloggers who are ready to soak up advice and learn from people who have been blogging longer than they have.

But what classes as being a success?

Is it page views and unique users? Many believe that if lots of people read your blog each week, you’re a big blogger. After all, people care what you write, and they might even comment and send a link to their friends or their mum.

Is it a huge following on social media? If you have 10,000 followers on Twitter, you have really made it, right? People have invited you into their Twitter feed – they want to hear about what you’re having for tea (salmon and quinoa again? Go you…)

Making money from your blog! Now that must be what sets some bloggers apart from the rest. There are lots of people who make good money and some who even call themselves pro bloggers. They’re at the top of their game, yes?

Well actually,  I think all of the above is lovely (hey, don’t misunderstand me – anyone would get a lovely ego boost from achieving any of them) but, possibly controversially, I don’t think any of these things mean you’re automatically a successful blogger. You see, my blog is my little area of the internet where I can write what I like and I will consider myself to be a successful blogger when every post I write is fantastic. I want to make people think, make them laugh, make them react in some way. They might not agree with what I’ve written, and that’s OK, but if my posts make them respond in some way, that’s bloody great.

The bloggers that I love draw me into their posts with their language, their ability to take me on a journey. Some take beautiful photos and allow me to have a glimpse into their lives and their homes. The blogs I read regularly make my heart skip a beat when I see there’s a new post there, all fresh and waiting to be read. They approach topics from an unusual angle, or they just say what so many others are thinking. I might read a post and feel inspired, I might feel a bit heartbroken, I might feel all warm and snuggly inside – but they all make me FEEL. That, to me, is what makes a bloody good blogger.

So if I could give other bloggers one piece of advice (and really, why should I do that, what do I know?) it would be this: write what makes you happy and write about what inspires you. The rest is all smoke and mirrors.

Image: DTTSP

Meals That Go with Rose Champagne

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Christmas is coming and it’s a great excuse to open a bottle of fizz. Today, I’ve got a guest post about pairing champers with different foods…

A bottle of rose champagne is a drink that can enhance, compliment, or mellow the flavours of a meal. With rose champagne, a sparkling wine, things are no different. There are certain types of food and occasions that sparkling wine is ideal for, but the suggestions below act as merely guidance. It’s important to experiment and try new combinations to get the most out of this fizzy, colorful meal accompaniment.

Spicy Foods

Pink champagne is the perfect, soothing combination for “Asian spicy foods such as Indian, Japanese and Chinese cuisines.” No more is this true than when a hot dish includes peppers, which naturally compliment sparkling wines.

Pasta and Rice Meals

Meals that incorporate pasta or rice normally have flavors that this wine holds-up well to. The smooth texture and biting acidity of a quality liquor can meet the pasta or rice flavors in the middle and work well together. Particularly, dishes mixed with saffron or tarragon combine nicely with sparkling wines, as is the case with seasoned paella.

Seafood

The fizzy, light texture of this wine makes for a fun alternative when accompanied with seafood dishes, which are entertaining meals on their own anyway. Notably, it is the creamy texture of red sparkling wine that compliments seafood dishes such as grilled tuna.

Meats

The great thing about sparkling red wine is it goes well with lots of different meats, including pork, chicken and veal. A chicken meal to try with this particular drink is chicken empanadas – a savory` meal with intense flavors. Roast veal or pork loin are also ingredients that will come alive in combination with a good bottle of this liquor.

Vegetables & Salads

Lastly, grilled vegetables, salads and asparagus all bounce off the flavours of this delectable spirit beautifully. The bitter and sweet combination works like yin and yang to blend well. A platter served with these types of vegetables, preferably grilled, will delight guests when matched with the sparkle of a quality, fizzy rose.

Learn the Rules, and Then Break Them

Consider these suggestions as a set of rules that at any time can be broken. People have their own tastes; some prefer certain flavors to be enhanced, while others like them mellowed. Wine can really enhance a dining experience, so it pays to work at developing your palate and discovering exciting new combinations.

Have you ever tried pairing rose champagne with other meals? Feel free to share your experiences in the comments section.

Thanks to Tesco for collaborating with Not Another Mummy Blog on this post!

Tips For Styling A Boy’s Room

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I hear friends who have boys moan about how hard it is to find nice boys’ clothing and lovely bits and pieces for a boy’s bedroom. Plus, boys, both old and young are sometimes not the easiest people to get answers out of when it comes to bedroom design. Mostly you’ll find yourself hitting a wall of shrugs and ‘I don’t knows’. If you’re currently getting ready to redesign a boy’s room, these tips may be just what you need to style it in a way you’ll both be happy to live with.

The Essentials

The essential part of any bedroom is the bed, but it doesn’t have to be plain or boring. Styling is about matching a space to its inhabitants, and boys are often busy characters with their own unique personalities. Take a look at websites of specialist furniture stores like Super A-Mart for some unique inspiration to match these lively characters. There are beds to suit every boy these days, from bed frames with draws built in underneath to the always-popular bunk and trundle beds.

A Tough Finish

Let’s face it; boys are not particularly gentle on the things they own, so it’s important to include plenty of furniture that will be able to cope with their wear-and-tear. Choose sturdy, solid bed frames and desks, use a wash-and-wear paint on the walls and include a large rug on the floor to avoid any marks being made directly on the carpet. Avoid breakables as much as possible, and try and cover up all the sharp corners or edges of furniture that look like the perfect place for a disaster to occur.

Be Practical

Storage solutions are a must when it comes to styling a boys room, as it will keep the space tidy and allow for clear access to games and other important items. By allocating specific drawers, shelves and cupboards to specific items, the room’s owner – or you – will easily be able to dump everything back in its spot when playtime is over.

Space it Out

Kids very rarely keep still so it’s vital that their bedroom has enough space to keep up with their constant movements. Keep all furniture to the edges so plenty of space is left for them to move and play. Don’t go crazy on additional furniture either, keep it to the bear minimum. Kids can sometimes have more appreciation for extra play space than a new bookshelf. Also, avoid having too many surfaces that can be used as a dumping ground, that way the room will stay slightly less cluttered.

Make it Personal

Every boy has different interests and this should definitely be showcased in their room. Don’t go overboard though, as growing kids also tend to be mind-changers, and you don’t want to be changing the design every few months. Keep the themed elements to the flexible items of the room such as bed linen and wall displays. A neutral colour with maybe one block-coloured wall is the way to go when incorporating this style technique.

Boys will be boys as the saying goes, and there is not much you can do to change this. By keeping in mind what their nature is like as well as what they love to do in their own space, you will find it much easier to get your styling hat on.

What have been some of the best and worst themed boys rooms you’ve ever come across? Comment below and tell me.

Thanks to Super A-Mart for collaborating with Not Another Mummy Blog on these tips!