Half Term Bucket List From A Kids’ Perspective – What They Really Want To Do

Half term is here, and I’m trying to be a good Mum and making a list of things we should do together to fill our time. I’m mindful of packing in travel, outdoor activities, nature, crafts and of course lots to do with Halloween.

Then I stopped and thought – what do the children actually want from their half term holidays? I often like to read about kids’ perspectives on things – why am I not just asking my own kids?

Of course, small children don’t always know what’s best for them, and would maybe just veg out and eat Haribo all day, every day if we allowed them, without any thought for fresh air or good nutrition, so we often have to intervene. But it’s an interesting exercise anyway, I think.

Veg out and eat Haribo all day!
Veg out and eat Haribo all day!

Here is the list of what my kids want to do for Half Term:

  • Carve our pumpkins
  • Make our Halloween costumes
  • Watch a Halloween movie (Beetlejuice or Ghostbusters are top of the list)
  • Make some videos and edit them (they want to make more ‘Look Inside’ videos, and Hugo got a green screen for his birthday so wants to learn how to use that too)
  • Go to a Halloween party (their football club is holding one)
Carve pumpkins ready for Halloween
Carve pumpkins ready for Halloween

That’s it!!

I asked them if they wanted to go anywhere – I had in mind Alnwick Castle for my little Harry Potter fans, Preston Park for some Halloween crafts, maybe a woodland walk, beach…? They met my suggestions with a shrug, a “yeah, could do”, but very little enthusiasm.

My children are tired. They have found the first half term back at school quite exhausting. I have busy boys who work hard and play hard! Hugo has had a birthday which we all shared an exciting weekend away to Edinburgh for, and a very full-on school camp for a long weekend which he is still recovering from. Both children have thrown themselves back into sport wholeheartedly since the summer break. They need a rest!

Sleepy little piglets
Sleepy little piglets

And why not? Do we really need to be on the go constantly? Do we need to be travelling, exploring, running about like crazy? Yes, it’s nice to do, but sometimes we all need a break.

So I’m listening to what my children are telling me. OK, I’m not going to let them laze about in pyjamas for the whole week, but I am going to take it easy.I need that too. I think that slowing down and taking our time over the things we really want to do together will help keep stress levels down and fights to a minimum too, so that we can just enjoy being together. I do hope so!

There may just be a blog or vlog post (or two) coming from us in the near future too!

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Half term bucket list - what kids really want
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Diary of An Imperfect MumKeep Calm and Carry On Linking Sunday
This Mum's LifeTammymum

Standing on Tiptoe – My Sunday Photo

This photo is from two years ago when we visited Alnwick Castle. We’re thinking of going again this Half Term, so I was looking back at the photos.

Toby on tiptoe at Alnwick Castle
Toby on tiptoe at Alnwick Castle

I almost didn’t notice at the time until I looked back on these photos, that Toby is standing on his tiptoes to try and be as tall as his brother! When I looked back at other photos, I realised he does this a lot. Poor little boy, trying to catch up!

Toby on tiptoe, trying to catch up to his brother
Catching up!

Little Loves #5 – Proud


They say pride comes before a fall, but I think being a proud Mum is perhaps excusable?  My kids have made me very proud for various reasons recently, so that’s what I’m sharing today.


Moby Dick book read at school in year 5
Moby Dick book

Hugo finally finished his school reading book ‘Moby Dick’ this week. He has really enjoyed reading it, and afterwards, we discussed why it was a classic and why he thought it had stood the test of time. Daddy told him about the hidden meaning of obsession and how it can be damaging. Hugo really took this on board. His level of understanding is becoming so sophisticated.


Toby’s Harvest Festival – our school has its harvest festival in Church, and it is a lovely service with the children leading the readings and prayers. I had a proud Mama moment as my little one, Toby, did a reading. The Church Altar was stacked with food donations for the local old persons’ Breakfast Club and the Food Bank.

Harvest festival offerings
Harvest Festival


I wanted to share with FTMOB this week but just didn’t get time to write a full post, but as Hugo was away at school camp, we took Toby out for a treat to Pizza Hut. He was so enthusiastic, and told me “I love it at Pizza Hut because, not only is the food great quality, but the staff are so friendly and helpful too!” A future blogger in the making?!

He also listened carefully to me bemoaning the fact that I don’t do more with the boys, and he reassured me “I bet lots of people with heart failure just sit around and don’t go out at all, but you try your best to do things with us all the time”. I felt so reassured that he appreciated the things I do with him, and also that he is learning to say kind things and make people feel better when they are sad. Another proud moment for me!

Pizza Hut kid review love
Pizza Hut Love


We have lots of ‘making’ plans for the half-term holiday, but have already made a start on Halloween costumes. This has been so much fun for Toby as he gets to basically rip up his clothes to become a zombie! Hugo has carefully drawn his design for me to create him a costume to be a dementor from Harry Potter. I’ve cheated a little and started with a Grim Reaper costume which I’m adding to with black cheesecloth type fabric. Photos to follow (probably next week!)


Here is a photo of Hugo, sharing the souvenir t-shirt he got from his school camp. He was incredibly brave and tried absolutely everything, including things very high up (zip slide, giant high swing, trapeze, climbing wall), very low down (caving, obstacle course, night wire), and lots in between! Here’s me, being a proud Mum again!

Find #LittleLoves at Coffee, Work, Sleep, Repeat:

Little Loves

The Reading Residenceethannevelyn

Penguins! My Sunday Photo

Call me crazy, but I just loved this photo for the way our shadows were cast whilst watching the penguins swimming!

Our shadows watching Penguins Swim at Edinburgh Zoo
Our shadows watching Penguins Swim

If you prefer a more conventional penguin view though, here are a few…

Penguin pointing the way at Edinburgh zoo
Penguin pointing the way!
Penguins with their Love Pebbles at Edinburgh Zoo
Penguins with their Love Pebbles
Penguin close-up at Edinburgh Zoo
Close-up. Love the water droplets on his tummy!
Penguin having a shower in the waterfall at Edinburgh Zoo
Penguin having a shower in the waterfall

All taken at Edinburgh Zoo.


School, Sports and How to Sustain Energy

We’re back in the old routine of school, after school activities, weekend activities… all of that running around which takes lots of energy! The children have been back at school over a month now, and in fact we’re fast approaching Half Term. Phew – where does the time go?

Do your children have lots of extra-curricular activities?

Mine are sporty kids – we have football training on Wednesday and Saturday, plus a match on a Sunday. My eldest also has training for his school football team and a goalkeeper training session on top of that. They also both go skiing once a week.

Tigers Ski Club in Sunderland
Tigers Ski Club in Sunderland

I do wonder sometimes, just how much is too much? My children used to have swimming lessons too, but they chose to give it up. I was disappointed as swimming was such a good activity for them and such an important skill too. In another way though, I was relieved. We are doing something almost every day of the week, and once a school club or birthday party is thrown into the mix, suddenly we have no free time at all.

I know parents whose children do even more than mine. If children are particularly good at their sport, they can be asked to join more ‘professional’ teams, enter more tournaments or swimming galas. If you have two or more children with different interests too, it can be almost impossible to keep up. You can be pulled all over the region trying to get them to different activities.

I sometimes wish my children had pursued an interest in music more, but then I wonder, just when would we fit it all in? And where would we find the energy?

Minion in hourglass Finding the time and energy
Finding the time and energy

I often worry about good nutrition and keeping up energy levels with all these activities. That’s why I was very pleased to try some multi-vitamins from Swisse Nutrition. I worked in Clinical Nutrition for many years, so I know just how important good nutrition can be, especially for active children. It isn’t just a case of grabbing a sports drink to make sure energy levels are topped up. A good balance of vitamins, minerals and other nutrients are very important.

A selection of Swisse Supplements
A selection of Swisse Supplements

Of equal importance is that any nutritional supplements, as well as being complete and well balanced, actually taste good! I can’t tell you how many different supplements I’ve had turned down by my fussy children as they tasted or smelled funny! I am therefore delighted that my children find the Swisse Ultivite chewable supplements very palatable, and they are also in fun shapes which helps!

Keeping up energy with Swisse vitamins - ready for football
Toby ready for football with his Swisse Vitamins

I can honestly say that so far, so good – taking the Swisse supplements has gone very well for us. My children have great levels of energy despite their busy school and sporting schedule, and thankfully haven’t even caught a cold so far since being back at school. Of course, this isn’t a clinical trial, just an anecdotal report, but I feel safe and happy in the knowledge that my kids are well nourished and as healthy as they can be. I’m a great believer in nutritional supplements to give me the confidence that my busy boys are getting the nutrients they need on a daily basis, and for us, Swisse has fit the bill really well.

How are you managing with the school and after school routine – do you have any tips you’d like to share?

With thanks to Swisse for sending us a selection of their nutritional supplements for us to review.

School, Sports and how to sustain energy with Swisse Vitamins
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ethannevelynKeep Calm and Carry On Linking Sunday

Blogs I’ve Admired, Feeling Inspired #3

Here is my third round up of great blogs which have inspired or entertained me in the last few weeks. I’m linking it up to Inspire and Flourish with The Less-Refined Mind.

  • Firstly, poor Frenchie Mummy, normally funny and upbeat, had a really hard time recently. I admire her so much for this very honest and heartfelt post. It can’t always be sunshine and rainbows.

How I miserably failed at being a strong mum yesterday…

  • Another post about honesty and ‘being real’ came from Mum’s The Nerd with this post about her daughter:

You are who you are

  • Next, Island Living wrote a post asking ‘Where is Home’? That really resonated with me, having moved around as much as I have.

Where is home?

  • On a similar note, this beautiful poem from MG at Reflections From Me talks about ‘What Is A Home?’

what is a home?

  • I’ve loved reading several posts from Topsy Turvy Tribe recently. This wonderful family have….well I don’t want to be a spoiler, just go and see. Needless to say, they are having a great adventure and I really admire them. Home for them is wherever they are together.

Start with this post and work back!

Escaping the Rat Race – A New Chapter

  • Finally, whilst speaking about home I have to mention the brilliant  Home and Horizon. Take a browse around this great travel and interiors blog, and see this post with money saving tips for updating interiors:


All of these posts have inspired me to think more about my home and family, perhaps in a different way than I do usually. Have they struck a chord with you too? Please tell me how, I’d love to know.

Would you like to pin this inspiration for later?

Blogs I've Admired, Feeling Inspired #3
Blogs I’ve Admired, Feeling Inspired #3

Why not choose your own favourites and link up to Inspire and Flourish?

Inspire & Flourish Linky
Inspire & Flourish Linky

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You Baby Me MummyPetite Pudding

Little Loves #4 – Birthday

I’m back with more #LittleLoves! This week has been a busy birthday kind of week. My big boy turned 10, and we had our Wedding Anniversary too, so numerous celebrations and lots to love.


Cards, of course! Lots and lots of birthday and anniversary cards. Many bits of paper filled with love and joy. It’s lovely to get cards, especially in these days of Facebook messages and texts. I’m a traditionalist – what can I say?


My big boy chose a trip to the zoo rather than a birthday party this year. He is obsessed with tigers, and particularly wanted to see them, as well as other animals. So we went to Edinburgh Zoo for a special treat, and spent the whole weekend away. It was fabulous to take our time around a very relaxed and uncrowded zoo, and we watched the penguins and otters playing and swimming for ages. We also spent lots of time watching the tigers, who both came right up to the viewing windows in several areas. It was a wonderful experience, and one I know Hugo will never forget. The pandas didn’t make an appearance, but the other animals more than made up for it.

Penguin pointing the way at Edinburgh zoo
Penguin pointing the way!
Otters playing at Edinburgh zoo
Otters at play
Tiger by the window at Edinburgh Zoo
Excuse the reflection, but look how close she is!
Tiger drinking at Edinburgh Zoo
Just a tiger, taking a drink…
Relaxed tiger with direct gaze at Edinburgh Zoo
He looked directly at me, so relaxed. Look at his paws!


Apart from the Happy Birthday song, which is a joy in itself (especially when played at full pelt in a Chinese restaurant in Edinburgh as a surprise for my big boy!), we’ve been rocking out at Family Makes. My little one, who is 8, is big into rock music, and has a fantastic memory for anything he has heard. He has been looking up and blasting out on YouTube some songs he has previously heard on the radio in the car. His current favourites are Thunderstruck by AC/DC, and Get the Funk Out by Extreme! (I just realised Thunderstruck is on the new Iphone 7 advert too – I wonder if that’s why he remembered it?)


I must admit I’ve been too poorly lately to make much, and the birthday cake was shop-bought. I’m feeling quite Autumnal now though, so out with the crockpot! Today I’ve made a chicken and vegetable soup, and I’ve started preparing for a sausage casserole for tomorrow. I love slow cooker cooking – it’s so easy! My friend says it’s like someone else made dinner for you!


It’s not enough that my big boy has gone into double figures, but he’s also grown up enough to be off to camp with school next week! I’ve therefore taken a quick trip to Tesco to get him some jogging trousers and tops which we don’t mind getting trashed during outdoor activities. Luckily some of them were in the sale too. We can hardly complain about mud stains for £6 a pair! I also bought him some cheap trainers, as he’s not taking his new Addidas birthday shoes with him. The big shock was that I had to get him a size 5! That’s my shoe size!!

Birthday boy's new Addidas shoes
Birthday boy’s new Addidas shoes


We’ve has such a busy and tiring week that we’ve hardly had time to reflect on either our Anniversary or our son’s big birthday. I do like to get a bit sentimental at times, but at other times I find that things which ought to get me all emotional actually flash by in a whirl. That’s what photos are for, I feel, so we can look back and reflect afterwards. Perhaps even find some time to blog about it??!

Family Makes - Making Memories at Edinburgh Zoo
Family Makes – Making Memories

Find #LittleLoves at Coffee, Work, Sleep, Repeat:Little Loves

Keep Calm and Carry On Linking SundayThe Reading Residence
Best of WorstDear Bear and Beany

Ticking Off Our Bucket & Spade List

Hello! Autumn is here, it’s official! So, great time to look back at our summer in France. You may have seen that each of us made our own Bucket and Spade Lists for the things we wanted to do this summer. How did we get on?  Did we fill our buckets with fun and adventure? Take a look:

Mum’s Bucket List:

  • Visit French Markets and Brocantes/Vide Grenier – we definitely managed the markets, several times (see our post 6 Things to Love About French Markets), although not the Brocantes/Vide Grenier this time I’m afraid, apart from the ‘Charity Shop’  Hope Foundation barns in Lezay which have lots of exciting treasures.

    Chickens at French Market
    Hugo and the chickens at the market “Please can we buy them?”
  • A trip to the Marais Poitevin – YES my lovely husband actually took us here without telling us where we were going! As it wasn’t an organized visit we didn’t go on a boat as we had the dog with us, but I can tick it off my list anyway, and it was very pretty.  I also shared a ‘My Sunday Photo‘ here.
    Marais Poitevin Bucket List
    Boats on the Marais Poitevin

    Marais Poitevin on my Bucket List
    Beautiful Marais Poitevin
  • Visit the coast (La Rochelle area)- we didn’t get here this time, but we’ve been before so not too disappointed.
  • Do a Cognac distillery tour – we decided against this as we thought the kids would be bored!
  • Take the children to a theme park – We didn’t manage this either. Paul reckoned it would probably kill me, and he’s right, especially considering how hot it was!!
  • Take some photos of sunflowers (I haven’t taken any so far in all the time I’ve been coming here – unbelievable!) – I managed a few, but only on my phone and not the close-ups I was hoping for. I shared some in Sunsets and Sunflowers Abound, and here are a couple more.

    This slideshow requires JavaScript.

  • Do some crafts and have quiet times with the boys – Yes, I managed to do some crochet, and Toby did a lovely painting on canvas. Hugo started to make an Egyptian Sarcophagus, but didn’t finish. It got so hot that, to be honest, none of us felt like doing very much really.

    Toby's crafts on bucket list
    Toby’s Painting
  • Have dinners outdoors- Yes we did, although not as often as you might think! Extreme heat and extreme flies meant we were often forced indoors.
  • Do some star gazing with the boys – What a brilliant night! We viewed the Perseid Meteor shower by going down to the swimming pool at just before midnight, lying on sun loungers together all cuddled up, and marveling at the wondrous sight that nature provided. Very special!

    Perseid Meteor Shower and Milky Way
    Perseid Meteor Shower and Milky Way
  • Have a lakeside picnic – well, kind of! At the Marais Poitevin we did try, but although there was a lot of water, there were very few places along the way to stop for a picnic. Eventually, we found a place which wasn’t quite ‘lakeside’ or ‘riverside’, but the river wasn’t far away!

Dad’s Bucket List:

  • Go canoeing on the Charente river – sadly not. We all changed our minds about this. I think we got more tired as the days got hotter, and all decided it was too much effort in the heat!
  • Make our garden nicer – yes, I did lots of jobs in the garden when I could. Nothing major, but some lovely flowering plants which I wish we could have brought home, and lots of cutting back as the trees and bushes grow at an alarming rate!

    Garden flowers watering can
    Garden flowers ready for planting
  • Have some family picnics – yes, see Mum’s list above. Maybe not as many as we thought we would, but a few anyway.

    Family Picnic on Bucket List
    Family picnic
  • Visit French Markets eg Lezay – Absolutely, we went to Lezay several times and I bought some lovely breads and my favourite cheeses and olives!
  • Visit a night market eg Villefagnan – Oh no! We didn’t get around to this and I’m really sorry as I’d have loved to. I think we were always too tired by the evenings!

Hugo’s Bucket List:

  • Go to a theme park eg Futuroscope – Nope (see Mum’s list above)
  • Do some crafts – Well, we started but didn’t quite finish (see above again)
  • Make some videos for YouTube – Yes! Hugo did a review of a diving mask he bought, and tried recording some games on the Xbox. We also started a ‘How To’ of the Sarcophagus but didn’t finish it.

    Diving Mask
    Diving Mask
  • Have a family picnic – yes, see above
  • Play on the new inflatables in the pool – oh yes! This is what they did most of as the weather was so hot!
  • Go on a jet ski – sadly you have to be a bit older, so we’ll save this for another year.
  • Try quad biking – we need to be a bit older for this too.
  • Visit the seaside – we didn’t get there this time, but we live by the sea so we’ll do it at home!
  • Read the whole of Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix – we finished readig this and also started the new book ‘Harry Potter and the Cursed Child’

    A Harry Potter and Charity Shop Fan
    A Harry Potter and Charity Shop Fan
  • Go to Lezay Market and the ‘dog charity’ place – yes, we managed this a couple of times, and Hugo got another Harry Potter book and the local version of Monopoly Poitou Charentes and Game of Life.

    Hope Founation
    Hope Foundation Charity Shop Barns

Toby’s Bucket List:

  • Canoeing/Kayaking – we gave up on this idea (see Dad’s list)
  • Go to Zoodyssey (we’ve been before but Toby loves it, especially the foxes and raccoons, and holding the snakes) – yes, we did this again when Nana and Grandad were here (Mummy stayed home with the dog!)
  • Pool activities and games – lots and lots! We had so much fun in the pool, as it was often too hot to do anything else!

    Playing pool games bucket list
    Playing pool games
  • Go to a restaurant – Toby chose the restaurant as he wanted it to be ‘quite posh’! We went to Cafe PorteBleue, a gorgeous English-run restaurant in Vertuille which we love, and had a lovely time. We also went to the Mad Hatter’s Kitchen a few times too, which we always enjoy, and a beautiful place in Brantome.

    Toby in Cafe PortBleue
    Toby in Cafe PortBleue
  • Make a vlog video – Hugo did most of the vlogging this time, but Toby did take part in a Go-Pro bike ride video which we still need to edit (*reminder* Mum, get editing!!)

It feels like we didn’t do too much for 6 whole weeks away, in fact we probably did more in the May holidays in 2 weeks. It was really, really hot though, and quite often we just couldn’t bear the thought of trailing around somewhere in such heat. Plus Mummy’s heart gets quite poorly in the heat so we have to be careful. We didn’t do too bad with our Bucket List though, did we? We’ve certainly made lots more happy memories to treasure from our time in France.

Now, what to do in the Autumn? Have you made an Autumn Bucket List? If you’ve blogged it, leave a link –  we’d love to read it. Or tell us in the comments what you have got planned.

Dear Bear and BeanyYou Baby Me Mummy
This Mum's LifeRachelSwirl
Keep Calm and Carry On Linking SundayPetite Pudding