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

Heat – Word of the Week

My word of the week is Heat.

Since the family arrived in France last week, the weather has ben fairly hot. Not quite as hot as the previous week, when I was here doing some last minute work on the house and garden.  I took this photo of the thermometer outside the house – albeit with the sun shining directly on it. But believe me, that was hot!

Family makes post about heat
High temperatures

We’ve had a fair amount of heat this week nonetheless, and it’s had a good and bad effect on us all.

It is great when the weather is warm and the children can play outside. They can go on bike rides and bug hunts, and swim and play in the pool even. We can enjoy dining alfresco with barbeques and salads….and flies. Lots of pesky black flies who also seem to enjoy the heat in unnatural quantities, despite the fly traps and fly swats we have an abundance of!

Playing pool games bucket list
Playing pool games

The heat becomes difficult on a night, though. Everyone struggles to sleep despite having fans on. When you combine that with excited children in holiday mode, staying up late and eating way too much ice cream, you have a potential recipe for disaster. Tired and cranky kids, hot and bothered parents.

Meltdown from heat at Family Makes

Oh yes, there has been more than one meltdown in the past week! The children’s behaviour has been displayed in all its glory. Tantrums,  a tweenager style face-off, ranting, crying, and a major incident over not being allowed to buy a tacky bracelet at the market. Even Mum and Dad have locked horns in battle in the frazzled aftermath of all this.

Throwing families together in close proximity is always tricky. Throw in some heat and you have a potential boiling pot! Add for us the need to please our guests and ensure they all have an amazing time at Chataigne House, and the pressure rises even higher.

We hope now that things are settling down a little and we’re getting used to our new situation,  that we are going to actually start making the most of the lovely warm weather to have some fun together. After all, we have an entire Bucket and Spade list to get through!

Summer bucket list to deal with the heat
Summer Bucket and Spade list

How about you? Please tell us we’re not the only family who have meltdowns when the temperature rises?

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Dear Bear and BeanyBest of Worst

Our Summer Bucket and Spade List

I love the idea of a Bucket List. I’m a list-maker by nature, and I like to be organised. Summer holidays go very quickly, and I often find myself on 1st September wishing that I’d done more, made more, or been to certain places I didn’t get around to.

A bucket list, though, is traditionally a list of things you want to do before you ‘kick the bucket’, which in itself is a little morbid, especially when you’re planning these things with your kids! With this in mind, we’re calling this our ‘bucket and spade’ list, and we want to fill our buckets with lots of fun things this summer.

Summer Bucket List
Top 30 Summer Fun Activities

We’re spending a lot of time in France, where we often come. It will be a busy time with gite guests and family visitors, so we want to make sure we make the most of it. We’ve each made a list, and we hope to combine them to do some fantastic things this summer (and keep the kids off the Xbox for a while if we possibly can!).

Mum’s List:

  • Visit French Markets and Brocantes/Vide Grenier
  • A trip to the Marais Poitevin
  • Visit the coast (La Rochelle area)
  • Do a Cognac distillery tour
  • Take the children to a theme park – Puy du Fou, Futuroscope or similar
  • Take some photos of sunflowers (I haven’t taken any so far in all the time I’ve been coming here – unbelievable!)
  • Do some crafts and have quiet times with the boys
  • Have dinners outdoors
  • Do some star gazing with the boys (Hugo bought a telescope from a Vide Grenier and we have the perfect skies here to use it)
  • Have a lakeside picnic

    Cognac Country Bucket List
    Visit a Cognac distillery tour

Dad’s List:

  • Go canoeing on the Charentes river
  • Make our garden nicer
  • Have some family picnics
  • Visit French Markets eg Lezay
  • Visit a night market eg Villefagnan

    Canoeing Charentes bucket list
    Canoeing on Charentes River

Hugo’s List:

  • Go to a theme park eg Futuroscope
  • Do some crafts
  • Make some videos for YouTube
  • Have a family picnic
  • Play on the new inflatables in the pool
  • Go on a jet ski
  • Try quad biking
  • Visit the seaside
  • Read the whole of Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix
  • Go to Lezay Market and the ‘dog charity’ place

    Futuroscope bucket list
    A trip to Futuroscope theme park

Toby’s List:

  • Canoeing/Kayaking
  • Go to Zoodyssey (we’ve been before but Toby loves it, especially the foxes and racoons, and holding the snakes)
  • Pool activities and games
  • Go to a restaurant
  • Make a vlog video

    Playing pool games bucket list
    Playing pool games

It’s good to see that there are many overlaps in our wish lists, so we will therefore all be happy, hopefully at least some of the time!

We are also really looking forward to the Mad Hatter’s Wonderland Festival, at the Mad Hatters Kitchen, a restaurant venue near our house in France. This 3-day music festival is going to be amazing, and we are therefore planning to really make the most of it this year!

Mad Hatter's Wonderland Festival
Mad Hatter’s Wonderland Festival

We hope you like our ideas for our bucket list. Whether visiting France or not, we hope you can take some inspiration from our list too. What’s at the top of your bucket list (or bucket and spade list) this summer?

Pink Pear BearYou Baby Me Mummy
Dear Bear and BeanyBest of Worst
Keep Calm and Carry On Linking Sunday

Independent Tents

Today was lovely, as the boys decided they wanted to play in tents in the garden.

I was really pleased they chose such an innocent outdoor activity. They collaborated really well, and independently took out and put up the tents, and filled them with cushions, rugs and toys. Then they helped themselves to snacks and drinks to add to the party!

I really enjoyed not only that they were getting on so well (for a change!), but that this was a lovely combination of a very ‘grown-up’ activity performed independently, and an innocent and childlike game of playing in a tent.

I finally have a photo for #saturdaysiblings playing nicely in the tent in our garden!

A photo posted by Carol Cliffe (@familymakes) on

They are growing fast, but still my babies.

(I’ve also been desperate for a photo to link up with Saturday Siblings for weeks!!)

Also linking with:

You Baby Me Mummy

Teachers are a Gift – 12 Ways To Show It

I love teachers! They are an absolute gift. A breed apart.

Have you met my children? Hard work. Bloody hard work. And there are only two of them! After the 6 weeks’ holidays, I’m very ready to send them back to school. I mean, I love them dearly, but…you know what I’m saying? Exhausting!

So I’m all for showing teachers how much we appreciate them by the end of term. A gold medal wouldn’t go amiss! But it’s hard to be a bit different, which is what I aim to be for these special people. I’m sure anything we give is greatly appreciated, I know it in fact, as I have many friends who are teachers.

They tell me they like the little thoughtful things – homemade by the children, heartfelt by the parents. Special words and touches rather than extravagance. Although to be fair, I’ve not met one who would turn down a nice bottle of something. Well, there are 6 weeks to get through!

So here are a few sweet, personal and inexpensive ideas from Amazon to get your creative juices flowing, or save them even, since there’s not long to go now ’til the end of term……

(Amazon pricing correct as of 12th July 2016 and subject to change)

  1. A lovely personalised bag in a choice of cool designs, at only £6.00

2. I love the sentiment of this sweet little keyring “It takes a big heart to shape little minds” charm love heart pendant keychain £3.99

3. All teachers need pens! Such a lovely personalised pen engraved and presented in a gift box for £4.20

4. With gifts like these, I’m wishing I was a teacher now! 30 Piece ‘Thank You Teacher’ Retro Sweets Treat Box £4.99

5. Fabulous and funny Wine Glass Gift for teachers – End of Term, Half Term, New term £11.99

6. A really sweet plaque Recipe for a Good teacher £6.99

Or 6a. A personalised one Thank You Teacher  wooden gift plaque£5.99

7. I love stationery, and this is really fun. Teachers always need notebooks! Bright Side Important Teacher Notes Book £9.99

8. Equally useful, and academic year diary. Collins do a lovely range

9. A fun Teacher Survival Kit In a Can £10.99

10. I’ve gone for scented candles this year. This one is so cute. East of India Special Teacher Scented Candle £9.69

11. This super cute set has it all – candles, toiletries, chocolate scent… chocolate gift bag £15.99

12. A picture frame, maybe with a photo of the class in it, or a drawing from your child? Resin personalised frame for teacher £12.00

What do you think? Are you feeling inspired by any of these teacher gift ideas? If you’ve left it really late, you can always sign up for Amazon Prime and get next day delivery.

Disclosure : this post contains affiliate links to Amazon.

You Baby Me MummyBest of Worst

Shopping – Because Retail Therapy Rocks!

My word for this week has to be ‘Shopping‘. Ah yes, you can’t beat a bit of retail therapy! I’m coming back into the land of the living, and I’m doing it just in time for the Summer Sales!!

I had ordered from Laura Ashley last week. I got some gorgeous scented candles as teacher gifts, plus some lantern type things, which turned out to be huge!I decided they would look too ostentatious as teacher gifts, so they would have to stay on my windowsill! Shame!

I started the week slowly, with a bit more online shopping. I got some lovely things from Fat Face in the sale, even managing to get a few items of clothing for myself! Now there’s a novelty! I also got some cute little trilby hats for the boys, some caps and socks, plus some really cute lunch bags. All were half price, and delivered to my door!

Trilby hats from shopping at Fat Face
Hats off to Fat Face!

I also got in on the fantastic deal at Boots, with a free beauty essentials kit worth £50. I bought two Sanctuary Spa gift sets (to replace the Laura Ashley lanterns I decided to keep for myself) as teacher gifts, and some make-up I needed.

I also ordered online from the Debenhams sale, but this was mostly underwear for me, so perhaps I’ll keep that private!

Shopping from dotcomgiftshop
DotComGiftShop Haul
Shopping at dotcomgiftshop
Floral accessories from dotcomgiftshop
Chocolate lunch boxes
Chocolate lunch boxes

Next, I ordered another gift from the DotCom Gift Shop, a summer bag with matching lunch bag, nail files, sewing kit and pen. The addition of a magazine and maybe some sun cream will make a lovely summer kit. I also got a similar bag for myself, and some novelty chocolate bar sandwich boxes for our summer picnics.


TK Maxx Shopping Haul
TK Maxx Stationery Haul
Tops from TK Maxx
Tops from TK Maxx
Shopping at TK Maxx
Gifts for little ones

Finally, as I felt a little stronger later in the week, I ventured out into real shops! TK Maxx was where I headed, and I found so many delights there!

Firstly, I was entranced by lots of very pretty stationery, and indulged in a small amount which really cheered me up. I also bought some lovely tops for my eldest boy and a couple of clothing presents for some little people in our lives.

Then for the home, I got a lovely decorative olive oil bottle, which TK Maxx is always great for, and a carafe with Coca-Cola design for my son’s trophy shelf (he wants to make a medal holder – watch this space!). Hubby also chose a couple of citronella candles in terracotta pots for France. Not to be left out, we bought the dog a new collar and lead.

TK Maxx homewares
TK Maxx homewares

So that was my week, defined by shopping and preparing for the next few weeks and for the summer. It’s really cheered me up to know that I’m all set for the summer. I’ve got some lovely gifts for people, including the teachers who do a brilliant job with my kids. I hope none of them read this and have the surprise spoiled! I’m really happy to have found such nice gifts. Plus, I’m pleased with my bargains too, of course!

Family Makes Snapped Up Linky
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Look Inside an Xbox 360

We were really excited to be able to find out what’s inside an Xbox when we got to our house in France. Some of you had requested or suggested this as the next in our series of ‘Look Inside’ items.

Our old Xbox was broken, so we decided to open it up to take a look inside. We did it quite carefully in case we were able to have it repaired later, but it was still lots of fun to do!

Have a look at our video and see what awesome things we found inside our Xbox 360…

“I was about to get a hammer to smash the Xbox up because I was getting so bored and frustrated! But sadly I could not 🙁  . We still enjoyed doing the opening up though. It was really interesting to take a look inside and see what components make up our favourite games console.”

Next time we might be a little bit rougher, and really break something up! What do you think it should be?

Please subscribe to our Youtube Channel to see the next videos we make. As well as breaking things open, we also do Vlogs, mostly about our travels. We also like to share gaming videos.

Keep Calm and Carry On Linking Sunday