Mad Hatters Music Festival


A couple of weeks ago we attended a fabulous mini music festival at a restaurant venue near to us in France.

The Mad Hatters hosted a great musical line-up with food, stalls, and somewhat surreal performers with face painting and fire!! We’re planning a full post about the festival, but this photo I captured as the light was dimming and the sun setting, gives a nice overview.

Mad Hatters Music Festival at Sunset
Mad Hatters Music Festival at Sunset

Back To School – Essentials and Treats


Are you an organised shopper, or a last minute dash before ‘back to school’ kind of parent?

I’ve had to be organised on the essential uniform front, as we spend most of the summer away. So when I get home, my uniforms, PE kits and shoes will already be organised. Do you want to ask me about where I bought or how many? Ask away. It’s an ongoing debate for many parents, I know.

What else do children need to go back to school with? In Primary school, the honest answer is ‘not very much’. Schools usually provide the books and equipment they need. Notice I said ‘need’ though? I mean, there are essentials, and then there are nice things. We all like a few nice things, don’t we?!

Back to school treats
Back to School – Pin for later

So, I’ve raided Amazon for some suggestions of nice little stationery extras and fun lunch boxes and bags, to ease the little darlings back into school life.

At the moment, Amazon have a 4 for 3 offer on Essential School items in certain categories until 21st September 2016. You can See them all here 

These are some of my personal favourites: (Prices correct as of 26th August 2016)

Disney Children’s Backpack £36.00. How adorable, and has matching items available too, such as the pencil case, £15.00 (click images for links)

A little less expensive, but still Disney and adorable, ideal for swimming. Dory Backpack £12.00, matching pencil case £6.99 (click on images)

I also love this range of Lassig Kindergarten Backpacks which are a little more expensive but look great quality. Priced around £23.99 – £29.99 in a gorgeous range of designs (click image for link)

Lunch boxes are so cool these days! I love the idea of the sectional Bento-style boxes. How cool are these retro ideas? Mustard Lunch Box Camera £9.20, Mustard Fridge Shaped Lunch Box £9.17

Alternatively, get on board with the Pokemon craze at lunch time! Pokemon lunch box £10.92

My kids are always more keen to practice handwriting or write stories if they have a nice new notebook. I love these from Go Stationery from only £4.39 each (Click image for link)

And some a little less pink…A5 notebooks from £2.99

Then add some cute novelty stationery items to guarantee to beat the Back To School Blues and ensure happy homework times!
Scotch dog tape dispenser £7.99, Hoot filled pencil case £12.99

Mustard Sweet shaped highlighter pens in a jar £8.00, Fox shaped giant eraser, £6.99 (click on image for link)

There are so many more great ideas over on Amazon, just have a click around and find something fun!

Disclosure: We are affiliates for Amazon, which means that using these links may earn us a little tiny commission for introducing you to our ideas. Hope that’s ok.

You Baby Me MummyThe Pramshed
Life of My Family & Me

Why Dens Are Still Cool- Come build a den with us!


Our boys are getting older, and it seems like each day there is something else they used to enjoy, which is now no longer cool. Thankfully, building dens is not yet one of them!

This summer, my boys teamed up with children from a few other families staying with us at Chataigne, and they all built a den in the recently unveiled rockery area between the trees. Come and have a look at what they made:

Outdoor den building
The den – you’d hardly know it was there!

It doesn’t take much to build a den, just a few trees or other shelter, and a lot of imagination. Look at this den – it doesn’t look anything like the sort of den I imagined they would want to build, but then that’s my imagination, rather than theirs. Most importantly, their den appeared to require various signs chalked on bits of wood, including the obligatory ‘No Adults or Dogs’ (poor Daphne the Doodle was most disappointed in this).

No Adults Allowed sign on the den
No Adults Allowed sign on the den

Otherwise, den building seemed to require a small plastic slide, plant pots, and sweeping brushes! They are therefore house proud den builders at least!

Den building Dens inside
Interior of the den

It was lovely to see though, children as old as 13 and as young as 5, boys and girls, all playing nicely together. They were also in the shade, away from the glare of the sun. They were discovering nature and enjoying the fresh air. I’m so pleased that they had this place to pop in and out of, to play different games in, and to call their own.

Dens in the trees
A den in the trees

So den builders unite. You don’t need much:

  • A shady corner, trees, a tent, a shed or play house.
  • Maybe an old sheet or curtains, a rug or some cushions
  • Pieces of wood for important signs
  • Toys and games to keep yourselves amused
  • Something for decoration – paint or chalk, pictures you made
  • Most of all, lots of imagination and a quest for fun!

Have a great time, either indoors or out, making dens. If you want more inspiration, you could take a look at our Pinterest board ‘Childsplay’

Would you like to pin this post for later?

Build a Den With Us!
Build a Den With Us!

Linking up with:
Country Kids from Coombe Mill Family Farm Holidays CornwallYou Baby Me Mummy

Best of WorstDear Bear and Beany

A Sunny Sunday Photo


OK, I know it’s late, but it’s been such a hot and sunny day today, that I’ve only just found time to sit down and upload my recent photos!

Today I’m sharing one from the lovely village of Brantome, in the Perigord Vert region of France. There are so many beautiful sights to choose from here, but I was just so taken by the pretty fronts of these buildings. How very French!

Typical French houses in Brantome, France
Typical French houses in Brantome, France

Blogs I’ve Admired, Feeling Inspired


Since I started blogging, I’ve enjoyed doing ‘linkies’ – leaving a link to one of my posts, and reading the blogs of others who have linked up too. It is one of the ways I’ve discovered some great writers and articles, and I’ve been looking for a way to recognise these for some time.

I then discovered this great linky from The Less-Refined mind, called Inspire and Flourish, and wham! That was it! The perfect place to share some love and recognise some of the great blogs I’ve read recently. Which is just as well, as there have been quite a few in the past week or two!

I’ve found two articles in the past week or so from Sparkles and Stretchmarks, both of which have been brilliant for me in different ways. The first, ‘Working with Brands and Not Underselling Yourself‘ was brilliant for a rookie like me, and gave me some great insights.

I also really enjoyed ‘Ways I know I’m getting old‘ as I could really identify with it and it gave me quite a laugh!

I’ve been an admirer of the blog Home and Horizon for some time. It’s like a favourite magazine, always with my kind of article inside. This post was really cool too, helping me to keep up with the kids in the latest Pokemon craze!

Pokémon Go

I’m consuming blog advice with great enthusiasm at the moment in my constant strive for improvement. Here was another fabulous advice article, from Island Living 365. Once there, I couldn’t stop soaking up the great writing of this lovely lady, so I’ve shared two of her posts, both quite different. Again, one is great advice, the other is one I could really identify with and which made me smile.

10 ways to find readers for your blog

11 ways I failed as a parent last week

I can’t talk about blog advice without mentioning You Baby Me Mummy. This lady is for me the absolute oracle of blogging advice, and she shares it all in such a friendly and useable way. Take a look and you’ll see what I mean:

Random change of subject. I really enjoyed this post from Someone’s Mum, about how allowing teachers to work part time could solve the recruitment crisis in schools. Very interesting indeed.

Wanted- Part Time Teachers: How flexible working could retain talent and ease the recruitment crisis.

Finally, a lovely post and a bit of fun from Mum’s the I love how she calls her baby ‘Short Rib’, and it’s really special to share this little insight into his birthday


I hope you’ve enjoyed some of my best blogs picks from the last few weeks. If you want to make your own list, why not have a look at the linky I joined, Inspire and Flourish by the Less-Refined Mind.

Inspire & Flourish Linky
Inspire & Flourish Linky

And just in case you’d like to pin this for later:

Blogs I've admired pin
Blogs I’ve admired pin


Back Pain – 10 Tips For Coping When Your Back Just ‘Goes’!


Is backpain a compound word? I know backache is, like toothache, but do I have to say back pain? I just want to know if I can have it as my word of the week?! Back pain has certainly dominated my week!

I’m no stranger to back pain. I have a slipped disc and a whole lot of other strange things going on which add up to something loosely termed ‘Bertolotti Syndrome’ – S.I. joints, facet joints, joints that shouldn’t even be there articulating with bits that shouldn’t articulate, sciatic pain…you get the picture! But that’s not what this is about. This is a whole different ball game!

Last week I was carefully kneeling on the floor sorting bedding and stuffing it into a bag in front of me. Not bending over from a height or anything naughty like that, you understand. But suddenly…CRUNCH…or maybe SNAP…or possibly CRACK…well you get the picture. Something had just ‘gone’ in my back. Something excruciatingly painful. I cried out, called for help, and collapsed on the floor. And that was it.

So here’s my advice on what to do when you have an acute back pain episode. Not expert advice, just borne of experience. We’re talking about sudden, severe back pain here, rather than any long-term conditions.

  1. Get yourself somewhere where the pain is at least more bearable and you can be made more comfortable – preferably a bed, sofa etc. Take it slowly and lean on someone/something for support. Once there, use cushions or pillows to achieve the best position.

    In bed with back pain
    Lie down somewhere comfortable
  2. Get some pain relief as soon as possible. As much as possible. No prizes for being a martyr here. The more pain you are in, the quicker your muscles will go into spasm and make it ten times worse, so take whatever you can.
  3. Breathe! This sounds obvious, but severe pain tends to make us hold our breath, when actually breathing quite deeply will help your muscles to relax and increase the oxygen supply to them.
  4. Take anti-inflammatories if you can tolerate them, and preferably not on an empty stomach. Ibuprofen in the most basic of these, but if you are prescribed any NSAIDS (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs), take them. Make sure you are not overdosing with any other medication you take. If in doubt, check with a pharmacist.

    Take medication as advised
    Take medication as advised
  5. Use some form of external heat or cold pack treatment. Opinion varies on this, some people say not to use heat, others disagree. Some advice also recommends alternating between the two. Whichever you use, do not apply it directly to the skin, but wrap it in something first. This time, I used an ice pack, one of those blue freezer packs you put in a picnic or lunch box, wrapped in a tea towel. Change it regularly. I have to say this is the best thing I did. It reduced swelling and made me quite numb so helped with pain too.
  6. Apply an external balm such as Ibuprofen gel etc., bearing in mind when you last took any oral ibuprofen and again reading the instructions to ensure you don’t overdose.
  7. Rest up as much as possible. Again no medals for bravery will be awarded. Doing too much too soon will set you back possibly several days.
  8. When you do move around, do it slowly and carefully, and with support initially, in order to not jerk anything or make the pain worse.
  9. Once you can manage to move around, then do so. Being still during the acute phase is fine, but moving around as soon as you can is also good as it keeps your circulation flowing and thus prevents blood clots, and also keeps your muscles working.
  10. If the pain does not ease at all, or worsens, or you develop severe bruising or other symptoms, always consult a medical professional. These are general tips and advice, and are not in any way meant to replace the opinion of an expert.

If you need further advice, see the NHS website, especially the section about back pain.

As for me, I spent some time in bed, then slowly recovered. I’m really bad at taking my own advice, so by day 3 I went on a family day trip and did a bit of walking, which was stupid, as I ended up in severe pain again! I’ve now learned my lesson and am going as slowly as my patience will allow! At least it has given me some time to catch up with a bit of blogging!

Resting in bed with back pain
Resting in bed

To all those who have back pain, acute or longer term chronic pain, you have my sincere sympathy. Take it easy and be kind to yourself, you don’t want to end up with longer term damage. It is frustrating, for you and for the people you live with, but take as much advice and as much help as you can get.

Wishing you all better soon!

Would you like to Pin these tips for later?

Back pain 10 tips for coping
Coping with acute back pain

The Reading ResidenceYou Baby Me Mummy
Keep Calm and Carry On Linking SundayLife of My Family & Me
The Pramshed

From the Mouths of Mums


I have always enjoyed linking up with Louise at Little Hearts, Big Love for her ‘From the Mouths of Babes’ linky about the funny things kids say. I’m really bad, however, at remembering some of the things my kids say for long enough to make a blog post about them!

Little Hearts, Big Love


This week though, I turned the tables on the boys. We had been for fish & chips, and Toby had left most of his but promised he would eat it all later. He then caught me giving a little bit of fish to the dog!

He very angrily demanded to know what I was doing: “Whose fish is that? Are you giving the dog my fish?”.

I put on my best innocent face and said “I don’t know. I just found them” (where have we heard that before??).

Both boys giggled a little, but Toby returned to his serious stance:

“You’re giving the dog my fish aren’t you?”

I  gave another innocent shrug. “Daphne told me it was hers…” (Daphne is the dog).

By now his brother was laughing loudly. Toby was incredulous “MUMMY, YOU’RE GIVING THAT DOG MY TEA!!”

My final shrug and innocent voice squeaked out “It wasn’t me…”!

Talk about a taste of his own medicine!!

Cheeky dog, cheeky Mum!
Cheeky dog!



Sunsets and Sunflowers Abound


It was part of my Bucket and Spade list to take photos of sunflowers. I still haven’t got the close-up views I imagined taking, but as we were driving home we just had to stop a couple of times and take in some wonderful views of sunflower fields. It’s one of the things this region, Poitou-Charentes (now known as La Nouvelle Aquitaine, along with Aquitaine and Limousin), is famous for.

I only took these with my mobile, but I’m really pleased with how they turned out.

Sunflowers and Sunsets in France
Sunflowers and Sunsets in France

I shared the one above on Instagram, and it got a really good response. It was even chosen as photo of the day for #HeartFlutterMoments by Life as a Single Mum. So I’ve decided to share it here too, and link it to some of my favourite photo linkies to give you all some sunflower and sunset love!!

Sunflowers and sunsets in France
Sunflowers and a beautiful sky

PhotalifeYou Baby Me Mummy

The Daddy Tag Challenge #TheDaddyTag


Today Daddy is answering questions from the Daddy Tag Challenge – a challenge set up by fellow blogger The Frenchie Mummy.

Answering questions for the Daddy Tag Challenge
Answering questions for the Daddy Tag Challenge
  • Are you a Stay at Home Daddy or a Working Daddy?
    • Both – my job is only part time so I’m home a lot, and spend the entire summer with my family (as my work is tied in with the Football season)
  • Would you have it any other way?
    • Yes – I’d much rather be working full time if I could (then I wouldn’t be bothered by the kids so much!)
  • Do you co-change dirty nappies? Even the very smelly ones?
    • Not any more, but I have done
  • A little fairy gives you the possibility of breastfeeding? Are you going for it or do you run away?
    • Yes, I’d go for it – I’d love man boobs!
  • What is the one must-have item for a daddy?
    • Earplugs
  • How many kids do you plan on having?
    • No more!!
  • Lads’ nights? How often do you have them?
    • Rare to never (unless there’s a big football match on)
  • Your children’s favourite achievement?
    • Both kids skiing a black run in Obergurgl this year. Hugo did every black run in the resort. Toby has improved so much since then, he could easily do it now too.
  • What is your best memory with your kid(s)?
    • Our wedding day – Hugo half undressing himself as we took our vows, and Toby screaming the place down because he wanted to be fed by Mummy, whose bare flesh in a strapless wedding gown was too much for our 4-month old to bear!
  • Name one thing you miss since being a daddy?
    • Regular nights out with my wife. We were just saying how we need to get into this trend of having ‘date nights’
  • Weight gain, before pregnancy, during, after and now? And we mean YOU DADDY, not the mummy!
    • No, I’ve always been this fat!!
  • Dream holiday with your kids?
    • Something with a very good kids’ club – with childcare from 8am to midnight
  • Dream holiday without your kids or even without the other half? (You’re allowed to dream)
    • Heliskiing in the Rockies
  • How has your life changed since having kids?
    • You obviously become less self-conscious and less self-absorbed as you have others to think about. Life changes in every way – you can’t do anything without thinking of them first.
  • Finish the sentence “It makes my heart melt when…”
    • when the boys spontaneously come and throw their arms around me and say “I love you Daddy”.  It doesn’t happen all that often, but when it does, it’s lovely.
  • Favourite beers brands and football team?
    • I like to drink local beers – Brewdog IPA is my current favourite. My favourite football team is difficult to say – I do support my local team Hartlepool Utd. I used to follow Aberdeen when I lived up there. I’ve always favoured small local teams, I’m not into big clubs that buy success.
  • Huggies or Pampers?
    • Pampers
  • Have you always wanted kids?
    • It was a heavy price to pay….!
  • Best part of being a dad?
    • Bedtime.

Don’t forget to nominate three daddies to complete this daring challenge!

Use the link below to see the rules of the Daddy Tag Challenge on the Frenchie Mummy’s page

the Frenchie Mummy Blog
 I’m going to nominate for the Daddy Tag:
 Big Stevie Cool, hubby of the fabulous Sam from Northeast Family Fun, and a great blogger in his own right too
Sam at Mummy Here and There – brilliant friend of Family Makes, I’m sure you mentioned you’d like to join in so here’s your nomination
Martyn from Inside Martyn’s Thoughts – the Dad blogger I most admire for doing it all and writing about it brilliantly

You Baby Me Mummy