Mr MIP saves a life (hopefully)

Once upon a time there was a man called Mr MIP who had spit that matched quite well with someone elses………. it’s an odd story and that isn’t exactly right but it’s as good as any other start I suppose.

We registered with DKMS – Delete Blood Cancer in 2013 after seeing an appeal for people to sign up to help a little girl looking for a match as she had leukemia. We were sent our packs that included an “About Me” type form and a cotton bud to wipe around our mouths. Easy peasy. So we sent the forms off and didn’t think anything else of it apart from calling them to let them know we’d moved house in 2014.

Until last year (2016) when we got a letter through the post last year saying that Mr MIP might be a match for someone. The letter contained lots of brilliant information about the process, selection and the actual donation itself.

First up he had to go for a blood test call Confirmatory Typing (CT) to rule out any infectious diseases or other blood based nasties that he wouldn’t want to pass onto anyone else which all came back clear. The results were then sent onto the patient’s doctor along with two other close matches for them to decide which set of cells would be the most suitable. That part of the process took a few months before we got the call to say Mr MIP was the best match and they’d be going ahead with the donation.

Before he could donate he needed to have a series of injections called Filgrastim which would increase the amount of blood stem cells in his body. He was warned that this was likely to be the most difficult part of the process for him personally and the bit that would come with the most discomfort. As the cells build up it’s common to feel a heavy feeling in your shoulders, chest plate and hips and also common to get insomnia.

Mr MIP was a total champ throughout the injection process – he did get that heavy feeling in his chest and the insomnia was pretty bad. He’s one of those people who falls asleep in a few seconds normally so the experience of just not being able to sleep was totally new to him. The thing is though – no matter how uncomfortable his joints felt and no matter how hard it was not to sleep for two nights it still wasn’t as bad as having leukemia so he didn’t feel like it was bad enough to say he wanted to quit!

 

Before we knew it donation day had rolled around and DKMS UK took care of everything. They made sure we had somewhere to stay, took care of all our travel and answered any other queries we had. Donations can take two days and they wanted us to have the option of an overnight stay – they also recommended having it even if the donation was done in a day as he’d likely to be tired.

He arrived, was shown to his bed and was able to make himself comfortable – donations can take up to 4-6 hours and are done via a very clever machine. A needle on one arm draws out your blood, it goes into this clever little gizmo and then is put back into your body minus the excess cells through a needle in your other arm. Mr MIP’s donation was a relatively straightforward process apart from a calcium dip at one point that made him very lightheaded but the medical team were straight on it and kept a really close eye on him.

You don’t really get to find anything out about the patient – all we know is that she’s in her 30’s and lives somewhere on Earth. That really resonated with me. At the time of donation I was 36 – that could have been me. It could easily be any of us.

After the donation life went back to normal pretty quickly – Mr MIP had some aches and pains as his body went back to it’s normal blood levels and he felt quite tired. He has always said he’d do it again without any hesitation – he describes the process as feeling like having the flu without actually having the flu.

A few days later we recieved this surprise box from DKMS as a thank you to him for being a lifesaver. I can’t even imagine what it feels like to save a life but I do know I’m immensely proud of him. We are still waiting to find out how the patient is – we’ve asked to know but the recipient isn’t obliged to tell us and that’s fine. We just hope she’s ok and well on the way to recovery – we have our fingers, eyes and toes crossed for you mystery lady.

DKMS Box

It’s quick and easy to register to be a bone marrow and blood cell donor – you can visit DKMS-UK and answer a few questions and you can also register with Anthony Nolan Trust . If you find you can’t register with one then it’s worth trying the other as they have slightly different requirements.

You could be wandering around with a possible cure for blood cancer in your body. Just think about that for a second – you might have the cure for some types of cancer. Someone out there could be waiting for you to register – you just need to sign up, get your swab sent in and wait to see if you are holding the key to a possible miracle for someone.

Please register and if you find you are a match and have questions Mr MIP is more than happy to help – drop me a line at muminpractice@gmail.com and I’ll send your message on.

 

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Our first family camping experience……

Before Miss MIP came along hubby and I would often spend weekends camping away – it was a quick, cheap and easy way to make the most of a weekend and we really wanted to carry on when Baby MIP arrived. Sadly it became quickly apparent that Baby MIP and sleep were not going to be the best of friends and canvas wouldn’t contain her or her noise so we put it off…..and put it off…..and put it off.

She’s now four and while her and sleep aren’t friends they are at least mild acquaintances that are willing to occasionally be in each others presence. With that in mind we dusted off our camping gear from the garage and started to get excited at the prospect of spending weekends in sunny fields again.

Our tent needed replacing as it had gone to war with high winds in Snowdonia and was utterly defeated so while we were at the Outdoor Adventure and Camping show we brought a brand new inflatable Kampa tent which looked perfect for our needs. I do love a gadget and short of having wifi or bluetooth (maybe the next one?) this tent ticked all the boxes for us.

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Then we started to look around for a small and local campsite that we could test the camping water with. We hit the jackpot with the campsite at Watercress Lodges – it was less than an hour away so easy enough to abort Mission Camp if it turned out to be a 3am disaster, family owned, excellent facilities and in a great location. The booking process was easy and with a one night stay for less than £30 for the three of us very reasonable as well.

We packed up the car with a truly stunning amount of kit and drove through the pretty Hampshire countryside to the site.

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It was smaller than I expected from the website but just perfect for what we wanted – it meant no over crowded pitches and no noise from large groups. It was in an excellent location right in front of the Watercress Line – Miss MIP ran to the front of the tent to wave at the trains every time they went past even though they couldn’t see her. The bridge just down from Ropley station was the place to be if you wanted to wave at the train drivers and get a ‘toot toot’ from them and that was less than a 3 minute walk away so great for little legs.

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The facilities on site were great – spacious hot showers, wheelchair accessible toilets and button operated doors, lots of sink space and hairdryers that were free to use.

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Miss MIP mostly cooperated – she was very confused at going to bed when the sun was still up so I think we need to bear that in mind for next time. She woke a few times between 12:00 and 3:00 but Mr MIP and I agreed that was more because it got very cold (6c and one point) and she was waking up in an unfamiliar place. She adored the experience though – especially being able to bounce around on her space hopper without worry of cars, drinking from her special tin camping mug and wielding a mallet to get the pegs in!

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The experience also showed us how much older she is getting now – she really wanted to help out and be part of the team and enjoyed the responsibility of the ‘jobs’ we gave her.

Spending time outdoors as a family is so important to us – it gives Miss MIP the experiences that we had as children and the chance to live a bit more ‘free range’ than she is able to at home due to school, her speech therapy and constant assessments on her development. When she is running around outside it doesn’t matter that she can’t meet those targets or isn’t quite the same as some other children – she’s just a little girl playing in the sunshine with her Mummy and Daddy.

In 2017 we are going to spend more time in the outdoors as a family and I feel sure that Miss MIP will only be better for it – and so will we.

If you are looking for that first step camping I couldn’t recommend Watercress Lodges and Camping highly enough. The site is friendly, well planned out, accessible and great for both experience and novice campers. We had a great time and I can guarantee we’ll be back……and maybe in one of these snazzy safari tents they’ve got!

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Details

Watercress Lodges and Camping – http://www.watercresslodges.co.uk/

Watercress Line – http://www.watercressline.co.uk/ 

Kampa Tents – https://www.kampa.co.uk/ 

Happy Camper Mugs – http://www.poundland.co.uk (brought from Petersfield store)

Unicorn Sleeping Pod – http://www.gooutdoors.co.uk

N.B – I was offered a one night stay for in return for a review of the campsite. All views and opinions are my own and I was not paid for this review

Cover photo credit – Watercress Lodges

 

The Outdoor Adventure and Camping Show – Review

As your children get older you start to return to the things you had to stop doing when they arrived. We’ve always loved camping but Miss MIP has never been a good sleeper so begrudgingly we had to leave one of our favourite pastimes behind for a few years. Now she is starting to become slightly more acquainted with the idea of sleeping we are looking forward to spending more time outdoors.

To kick off our year of Outdoor Adventures we visited the Outdoor Adventure and Camping Show at London Excel in February and as it was billed as a family event we took Miss MIP with us.

We decided to drive up as there is an abundance of parking at Excel and the train and tube would have taken much longer than Miss MIP would have put up with! Parking is £15 which isn’t cheap but so much cheaper than train and tube tickets for us all still. We moved very easily from the car park and followed the very clear signage to the event hall.

The Outdoor Adventure and Camping show is enormous – there are over 300 exhibitors, around 50 guest speakers and over the four days it runs over 50,000 people will visit the show. The Telegraph Outdoor Adventure and Camping show is the UK’s largest outdoors show and offers people the chance to explore new activities. If you have a ticket you also get access to the London Bike Show and the Triathlon Show: London which makes it excellent value for money.

Miss MIP had a ball – she built butterfly feeders at the RSBP stand, had an amazing virtual reality experience aboard the Clipper Race , played pretend house and picnics with everything at the Blacks Outdoor sale area and had a truly wonderful time in the Incredible Oceans Live space.

We watched bikes fly at the Air to the Throne, were inspired to travel by Laura Bingham and Ash Bhardwaj and brought a Kampa tent from the lovely chaps at PJ Outdoors.

If you have the chance to go along you should definitely go. Excellent value for money, very family friendly and lots to learn from some very personable experts. While the idea of going to an exhibition might not be the first thing that comes to mind for a family day out we all had such a fun time. It was so good to go somewhere that showed us an entire wealth of opportunities open to us as a family and a brilliant start to our year of outdoor fun.

A big thank you to Fusion Media for arranging press passes for us.

My tips for a great Center Parcs break

We’re off to Longleat Center Parcs again this month and I’m so looking forward to our 4 night family break. It’s been a big year for us all so the idea of some family time out is very welcome right now.

If you are able to go term time it is possible to get a break at a reasonable price as well – we booked in January for a September break which came to £299 for a 2 bed standard woodland lodge. For a 5 day break this works out at around £75 per night which isn’t bad for self catering accommodation.

It’s possible to spend a fortune there and ram pack your days but we try to do no more than 1 or 2 activities a day and make the most of the free swimming, lakeside walks and bike rides. Last year I managed to get an early morning run in and while it was much much more hilly than my usual routes it was lovely to run around the lake in the morning.

Here are my top tips for your Center Parcs Longleat break.

Pre-book your activities

It is possible to book activities on site but if you want to make sure you can do things on the day you want to you should use the online booking system. This is a great way to keep an eye on your itinerary to make sure you aren’t booking too much in but also a good way to keep an eye on costs. You might not be able to get into your accommodation until 2pm or 3pm but you can book activities from 10am so you can get full use of your days. This goes the same for your checkout day – you have to leave your accommodation in the morning but you can book right up to the afternoon and evening of the day you check out so book your activities to make full use of your time.

Cafe Rouge

A sneaky restaurant in the corner or the main plaza that does a really lovely childrens menu and they’ll get to watch the fish swim past. They do an ace breakfast as well – my favourite is the freshly cooked bread with jam, butter and a cup of tea and hubby loves the granola. Many of the restaurants at Longleat can be very busy and full of stimulation for the tiny humans but Cafe Rouge is always very chilled out and a good place to spend some quiet time. The Grand Cafe is good for somewhere quieter than the sports bar as well.

Asda in Frome

There is a shop on site and it’s a really good little store but it isn’t the cheapest – I’d compare it to Sainsburys prices but without any of the deals. For us we find doing a click and collect shop from the big Asda in Frome is really helpful. You can order it all online before you leave and just drive in to collect it without any of the actual stresses of having to do a proper shop with the family in tow! Doing an online shop is also a good way of meal planning and keeping your meal costs under control – we usually plan for lunch out but dinner at home. Do bear in mind though that firewood and BBQ’s have to be brought from the onsite shop for safety purposes.

Bikes and trailers

The Longleat site is huge and there is a tractor train to get you around and about but for a bit of independance I’d recommend hiring or bringing your own bikes. They can be a bit of a slog – especially the hill up from the lake – but the site is well laid out with cycle paths and clear routes for you to use. We’ve always hired one of the trailers as well to make it easier to get around and about although now Miss MIP is 4 years old I’m not sure how easy it’ll actually be! Either way the trailers are fab for transporting swimming kit, shopping and stroppy children who refuse to walk another step…….

Onsite childcare

A family holiday is a holiday for all of us but we do enjoy some time to ourselves as well. Each year Miss MIP has gone to the Pirates and Princesses party at the Creche which gives us 2 hours to enjoy breakfast together or to go for a swim while she plays with her new found friends. The childminders at Centre Parcs are just fab – they are experienced and Ofsted registered and were able to deal with Miss MIP’s speech delay issues without any problems.

Wifi and phones

If, like me, you pretty much always have your phone in your hand Centre Parcs can be a challenge due to its almost impossible to find enough signal to make a call. The good news is you can pick up Wifi in most places but be prepared to be uncontactable for most of your stay.

Accommodation

When you book your stay you’ll be offered a range of accommodation – we’ve stayed in standard and executive and rate both. For the three of us the standard is fine but if having a second bathroom would be useful to you then the executive rooms are good for a treat. I haven’t stayed in the the tree house accommodation but if someone at Center Parcs wants to upgrade our stay I’ll be happy to review it  😉 I’d particularly like the look of the treehouses and they could be amazing for special occasions or group hire.

 

I hope these tips help you enjoy your break and I’ll update it when we get back with any new ones we come across.

 

Coaching Cards for New Parents

When you find out you are going to be a parent thousands of questions start to run through your mind and it can be hard to find structure and answers to those questions. I remember feeling totally overwhelmed and instantly buying four or five books that only served to confuse me even more!

I was recently sent some Coaching Cards for New Parents from Kim Morgan at Barefoot Coaching Ltd and I instantly wished I’d had these cards when Little Miss MIP was born. The pack contains 50 cards that each have a question on them that is designed to encourage honest conversation about your experience of being a new parent. Not only do they make you think about your everyday parenting life but they also help to focus your thoughts on what kind of parent you’d like to be in the future.

I’m really pleased to be taking part in Kim’s #yougotthis blog tour and to answer the question on one of the cards for you now as an example of the questions the packs contain.

Card

This made me laugh when I read it because I feel like the honest answer is “all the time”.

I feel frustrated when she doesn’t listen to what I’m asking, I feel frustrated when I feel like she isn’t eating properly, I feel frustrated when she won’t go to sleep and I feel frustrated when she doesn’t focus and pay attention to what I’m trying to teach her.

Feeling frustrated as a parent is a permanent mindset I think and I think it’s ok to feel like that as long as you can capture why you feel like that.

I get frustrated and cross when she won’t listen and do as she is asked – I feel like she is actively ignoring me and not making the choices I would like her to when ask her to do something. I feel frustrated and often like I’m failing but sometimes I can take a step back and try to identify why she isn’t doing what I ask. Sometimes she is just being a little minx and pushing boundaries but quite often her behaviour is a result and reflection of my behaviour.

As an example in the mornings I’ll often say – “can you pop your coat on please along with your shoes and pick up your school bag so we can go to nursery and see your friends”. Most mornings she’ll ignore me or start to have a tantrum and if that happens it’s pretty much my own fault. I’ve given her too much information and now she doesn’t know where to start – I’ve overwhelmed her and she isn’t quite sure what I want her to do so she responds by doing nothing. I then end up repeating myself until we end up at me counting to three, her shouting at me, both of us feeling frustrated and everything taking a million times longer than it needs to.

If I’d just asked her to put her coat and shoes on and left everything else out of the instruction it’s 90% likely it could all be avoided and we have a much more peaceful morning.

When she goes to bed she always gets over excited and I end up frustrated and the pattern repeats. I mostly go into bedtime and dinner time braced and ready for conflict but the times I don’t start off frustrated and anxious it generally ends up ok.

Frustration is a natural state of mind for parents – I’m frustrated I don’t have the flexbility I used to before children to enjoy sunny bank holidays in the beer garden, I am frustrated I’ve to put my hard earned career on hold and I’m frustrated that I don’t feel like I’m getting it right most days.

But I’m also happy – I’m happy this tiny terror has landed in my life to frustrate and delight me in equal measure. I’m happy that I’ve got this whole new life together to explore as a family and I’m happy that almost every day I can go to bed knowing that while I might not be the person I was a few years back the person I’m turning into is ok.

The coaching cards are a really interesting concept and I would recommend them to others. You can buy them from the Barefoot Coaching website here from the 1st September at £15 per pack and I’ll be giving away a pack on my Facebook page shortly.

You can follow the #yougotthis blog tour by using the hashtag or visiting the blog pages below – Mums The Law will be posting next followed by Squished Blueberries, This Glorious Life, Beautiful Things and finally Glossy Tots on the 9th September. You can also catch up on the ones you missed from Barefoot Blog, Messy Blog and Beauties and the Bibs to find out what they thought of the cards and what questions they answered. Blog tour graphic for Barefoot blog_Saira_0

I was sent these cards for free in return for an honest review – all opinions are my own

Review – Qantas London to Auckland

So as some of you know we recently took a huge journey to visit family on the other side of the world in New Zealand. After much exploring we decided to take a non stop flight from London to Melbourne with Qantas, then another flight from Melbourne to Auckland (also with Qantas).

The flights with Qantas were £2,355 plus another £150 for seat booking -needless to say this was more than we’d ever spent out for flights for us all before and based on our research we had high hopes for our journey.

Now travelling for 35+ hours with a three year old is a daunting prospect at the best of times but being that I don’t much like flying it was always going to be a challenge.

Our booking process was really easy and Qantas were easy to reach by phone for our additional queries as well. We had some confusion about the flights as they were advertised as non stop but the receipt said that it had a stopover in Dubai – after a quick call we were reassured this would be a brief refuel stop and we’d hardly notice. This put my mind at ease as I didn’t relish the thought of 4 separate flights each way.

Once we’d booked we started to get excited – this was helped by the the Joey Playbox app which is designed for kids but if I’m honest we all enjoyed playing with. You can design your own airport, sticker up luggage with cool tags, design paper airplanes and play a game based on the old Nokia snake game where you collect baggage which my husband and I became quite competitive on! We were also promised a kids activity pack on the flight for the little one and we added this to the things for her to do mental tick list.

Before we knew it the few months between us booking and travelling had passed and it was time to go. We’d been able to print off our boarding passes quickly and easily and checking in with our luggage was great. We had a luggage allowance each of 30kg so 90kg between us which was plenty for our 10 days in NZ. The hand baggage allowance was slightly harder at 7kg per person and we found this a challenge – most bags weigh around 1kg or 2kg so this really cut the allowance down and when you are flying with a 3 year old the hand baggage is hugely important. On top of this hand baggage allowance you are also allowed to take on a small personal piece of luggage such as a handbag, laptop computer, overcoat, small camera, a reasonable amount of reading material or a small amount of duty free goods where permitted though. We made use of this extra bag but really a couple of extra kgs in hand luggage would have made all the difference.

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We were flying economy in an Airbus A380 and we weren’t overwhelmed by the legroom available – as with so many flights it was fine until someone reclined their seat and then we became very short on space. Even the smallest of our group struggled once the seats in front were reclined and as we were primarily on a night flight this was most of the time.

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The plus side to the flights are the staff – the Cabin Crew on Qantas were superb. They were constantly racing around answering calls and helping people out. We watched them help out a family with an unhappy child and a woman who was feeling very claustrophobic and they did this with a smile and without an ounce of panic or short temper. The service was friendly and felt as personal as it can be with hundreds of people for the team to try and please.

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Sadly the downsides did outweigh the good points for us though. Qantas have recently relaunched their menu and while none of us are fussy eaters but I have to say we did struggle. Particularly with the children’s menu – on all flights both outbound and inbound our daughter didn’t find one thing she enjoyed. It was all very bland and nondescript and we found the limited options quite challenging which is tough when you are on a long flight. The other thing was they never stopped feeding us! We said no to crisps, wraps and rolls many times as it was just a constant bombardment of meals and snacks. When you are already cramped on a plane the last thing you want is to be feeling all heavy and full as well.

The fact that 70% of the flight was at night is tough as well – I know this can’t really be helped but it meant we couldn’t walk around as much as we’d like and our daughter didn’t get an opportunity to play quietly and chat to us as much as we would have like. This created a difficulty later down the line as it’s impossible to ask a 3 year old to stay still and quiet for 13 hours!

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The other thing was the non stop element of the flight – the ‘brief fuel stop’ in Dubai turned out to be over 2 hours each time. This, to us, isn’t what we expected from a ‘brief fuel stop’ – it was a struggle to get everything off the plane for two hours to then come back to your seat afterwards. It might not sound like that much of a deal but with an overtired 3 year old at 10:30pm it really is hard work. We’d hoped for a route that would avoid lots of getting on and off of planes but this particular route couldn’t do that for us.

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So the crux of it is – would I fly Qantas again? The answer is yes but not back to New Zealand. The flight times make a long flight with a child even more hard work, there isn’t enough space in economy, the food isn’t good, the hand luggage allowance is restrictive when you are travelling as a family and the fuel stop is too long for the flight to ever be considered non stop.

Would I fly Qantas again anywhere else? Yes I would but only because of the staff – we’ve flown with many of the big airlines over the years and the thing that makes Qantas a success must be the friendly, approachable and incredibly professional staff.

So all in all – 2/5 for the flight but 5/5 for the crew.

If you have a flight with Qantas coming up and I can answer any questions or queries for you then get in touch using the comments or email me on muminpractice@gmail.com

 

Review – Beets BLU Pager Tag

I have a three year old kleptomaniac in my house – she hoards things in bags and boxes all over the place. Her favorite items to steal are my house keys, my wallet and she takes great delight in filling my handbag with other things I don’t actually need. I’ve not been able to pay for my shopping three times as she’s removed my bank card and we’ve been late multiple times because I can’t find my keys to get us out the house and in the car.

Enter the BeetsBLU Pager Tag to save the day.

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This little tag can be attached to your keys, wallet, bag or other valuable and works with an app you download to your phone to help you keep track of them. The app tracks the last known location of the tag via bluetooth and sets off an alarm if you move out of a certain proximity to the tag. So for example if your keys drop out of your bag, if someone takes your wallet out of your bag or if your hoarding daughter decides the princess needs a new set of keys to open her castle it’ll set off an alarm when the tag attached to them moves more than around 5 meters from your phone.

The bluetooth sensor can be pretty sensitive and sometime faults as it scans for devices which will make you jump when it randomly goes off and I’m not quite sure how to solve this problem. I’ve tried all the troubleshooting and it seem it’s quite a common issue. The alarm is pretty shrill as it is like a cross between a fire alarm and a car alarm. It’ll certainly make you stop that’s for sure!

The app itself is easy to use and pairing the devices is done in a few seconds and doesn’t need to be done more than once. You can watch multiple tags using the same app and identify each one with a personalised picture or name to make sure they don’t get mixed up.

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All in all the tag is a really useful little gadget and once you’ve got the hang of it it’ll be helpful in so many situations – in the house to find your keys, on a night out to keep an eye on your wallet or your hand luggage when you are at the airport. It’s tempting to glue one to my daughters bag when we are out about but we all know the alarm would constantly be going off and she sprints away from me in the shop.

You can buy your Beets BLU Pager Tag online from around £20 and the app is a free download.

N.B – I was sent a Beets BLU Pager Tag for free in exchange for a review on the product. I was not paid for this review and this is not an endorsement of the product. If you have a product you’d like reviewed then please contact me on muminpractice@gmail.com

 

 

Counting down to 11,700 miles

In just a few weeks we will be boarding our Qantas flight in London and travelling 11,700 miles to Nelson in New Zealand. This is a huge trip for us. Over 3 years ago my brother in law and his family moved to New Zealand and this will be the first time we’ve seen them in person since they left and I can’t even begin to explain how excited I am about the trip.

I’m excited but I’m also worried – it is such a long way and part of my concern is about spending 26 hours on a plane with an excitable 3 year old.
We’ve booked to go with Qantas because the price was the best and because we liked what we read about them. All in all the flights were less than I thought they’d be at £2,355 for two adults and one child but it’s safe to say we won’t be taking the upgrade to premium economy as its an eye watering £4,700 extra to do so. What on earth happens in premium economy that you could justify paying £7,000 for three flights?
N.B – if anyone from Qantas is listening and wants to bump us up to Premium Economy in a row of three I’d be delighted to take that upgrade and blog about it…….  😉 
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As well as a really competitive price we were really pleased with the 30 kilo luggage allowance, a decent amount of leg room with foot rest, a snack cabin to help yourself from during your journey  (helpful when you are travelling with a small human who doesn’t stop eating. Ever) and a really good selection of films and TV for us all to watch. If from reading this you have any intention of emailing me telling me off for letting my child watch too much TV then I’d advise you to stop right now. It’s 35 HOURS people – if watching Frozen for 35 straight hours is going to stop us and anyone else around going insane then that is what is happening.
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From a family travel point of view we were also impressed that a child ticket gets the same luggage allowance, proper food portions on an actual plate which comes out before the adults, an activity pack on board and a great little app which has really helped her to get excited about the trip. Maybe too excited in fact – she has asked every single day if we are going on holiday since we booked it. Which brings me to my very first travel tip –
Don’t tell children you are going on holiday until a week before you go
Seriously. Don’t do it. We booked in January and she has asked every single day if we are going yet. Major mistake on our part.
I’ll be blogging about the whole trip as we go along – booking, airports, flights, comfort, connecting flights, luggage, service and anything else that comes up. I’ve found it pretty difficult to get the up to date information I was looking for so hopefully this blog will answer any questions other families might have as well. If there is anything specific you’d like me to cover then please email me on muminpractice@gmail.com and I’ll do what I can to help.
With less than a month to go, 5 pages of packing lists and to do lists, three suitcases, two travel books and a whole bunch of hopes and wishes I’m getting ready for this amazing trip. I hope you’ll enjoy sharing it with me.

Review – The Goodwood Hotel

It was our 8th Wedding Anniversary last weekend and we booked a one night stay at The Goodwood Hotel in West Sussex.

Since becoming parents our requirements have changed a little for our anniversary breaks – we used to like self catering in a town or village where we could explore a bit and then wander along to a local pub in the evening. Now we prefer to arrive somewhere, put down our bags and move as little from that spot as possible! We chose The Goodwood Hotel as it’s not far from where we live, it has a pool and a good wine list. These are all our priorities now – food, wine, pool, sleep and total lack of movement!

The Goodwood Hotel is based near Chichester in West Sussex and it is a great location to explore the local area. It has a selection of rooms varying from suites, to garden rooms with a terrace to signature double rooms – all rooms have ensuite bathrooms, modern furniture, cosy throws and a selection of books to read.

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We stayed in a Garden Room and were impressed with the amount of space – the rooms have high ceilings, lots of light and are furnished beautifully. We had tea and coffee making facilities with delicious morning brew from Tea Pigs, lovely bathroom products from Elemis as well as a safe, hairdryer, ironing board and iron.

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I’d recommend the rooms with a garden terrace – although it was cold when we were there it was great to be able to sit outside with a book and a cuppa.

We went for a swim in the pool and were also able to use the jacuzzi, sauna and steam room at the health club as part of our stay. You can also book in at the in house spa which is called The Waterbeach which has treatments for men and women from manicures to massages and all at very reasonable prices. I didn’t use the spa on this occasion but if we have the opportunity to go back I’ll be sampling from their treatment menu for sure.

The hotel offers a range of restaurants – The Richmond Arms, The Kennels and the Bar and Grill and as staying guests we were offered the chance to eat at all of them. We chose the Bar and Grill as we wanted something slightly more casual and we were delighted with our choice. The restaurant is open plan, warm and friendly with a good selection on main, light bites and dessert menus.

Our food arrived quickly and was delicious – I opted for the chicken burger (a rare treat for me as I’m trying to steer clear of bread) and my husband had steak. Both were cooked to perfection and the accompanying sides were very tasty as well. Add in a nice dessert, a few glasses of prosecco and a cup of tea to finish and we were very happy customers ready to slope off to bed for 12 hours sleep in a comfy bed.

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The food is great, the rooms are nice and the hotel is lovely but the thing that makes The Goodwood Hotel exceptional is the staff. From the moment we were checked in by the helpful and professional front of house staff to the friendly and approachable manner of the team at the restaurant you are made to feel like they all really care about your stay. The small touches of some chocolates in our room to wish us happy anniversary, the knock at our door in the afternoon to check our room was ok and to give us a weather report the following day right the way through to the bigger efforts like a special dessert to help us celebrate our anniversary all added up to an astonishing level of service I’ve only come across a handful of times before.

 

 

The Goodwood Hotel  is a wonderful place and at £205 for bed, breakfast and dinner for the both of us it also gives great value for money.

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If you are looking for a getaway I’d highly recommend it and would also like to take this opportunity to thank the staff at the hotel for making our weekend so wonderful.

5/5 – great value, great service and a lovely location.

I was not paid for this opinion and all views expressed are my own. If you would like your product or service reviewed then please contact me directly on muminpractice@gmail.com 

 

Zazzle Wood Canvas – Review

I was really intrigued to get the chance to review a wood canvas from Zazzle on behalf of What’s Good To Do. I couldn’t quite picture (please note the pun!) what it would look like or how it would arrive.

The whole process of ordering is pretty good fun – you start off by choosing you picture size, what picture you want to use, what size you want and what background colour you want it to be. This gives you the chance to test different pictures and check different effects before making your final choice.

I chose a natural wood background and a photo with a filter on as I wanted quite a vintage look to the picture. The photo you choose is then printed directly onto a plywood background which gives the final image the impression of being more like a painting than a print.

The end result is really unique effect. The picture we chose was from a sunny day at the top of a hill and our daughter running around on that hill – the effect of printing on wood has made for a really lovely picture. It’ll certainly stand out from the other more ‘normal’ photos we have around the house and I love the effect. We have it up in our house and it never fails to draw attention as it is such a beautiful and unusual picture.

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Putting it up is really easy as well as it can be mounted using the provided stand in matching wood or using the wall mounting instructions and materials that are also provided in the packaging.

The product is very well packaged and our picture arrived in excellent condition in protective box with fast delivery.

The environmentally minded of you will be pleased to know that the company that makes the pictures – WoodSnap – use sustainable manufacturing and plant a tree for every WoodSnap print created.

I was very pleased with our picture – it’s very easy to get your photos printed on anything from mugs to t-shirts and phone cases now but the picture we have from Zazzle really is something interesting and unusual. I was impressed with how easy it was to design the picture and how the website is intuitive enough to let you know if your photo isn’t a clear enough image to use.

I was interested to know about the sustainable practices and the company that makes them is forward thinking enough to plant trees. I was delighted with how fast the delivery from Zazzle was and I was hugely impressed with the final product.

I wouldn’t hesitate to get another print from Zazzle or use the website again. It’s easy to navigate and creating your own image like this is good fun. The service, the product, the delivery and packaging are all exceptional.

This review was done on behalf of What’s Good To Do and the original can be seen here. I was not paid to endorse or review this product.