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14 ways to cool the HECK down in Summer

It’s bloody hot right? 31 degrees in Milton Keynes today, hottest day of the year so far and it is only June. This worries me because (whispers) can I let you in on a little secret? I don’t really like the summer! Please don’t tell anyone – it’s like saying you don’t like puppies or icecream – no-one understands. Okay, maybe today you understand, I don’t like it because its too bloody hot! I cannot bear this kind of heat, it makes me grumpy and I cannot sleep. I rarely sleep through the night in the summer because if its not one of my kids waking up too hot it is me, okay it is mostly me! The bright light, the noise from having to have the window open and the heat, that is why I am not a big fan of very hot weather.


Anyway, I digress, so here is my top points for keeping cool in the summer, starting with the top two that have really helped me this week, one of which I only just read about!

  1. Have a cool shower, bath or just generally get yourself wet. This is thermodynamics 101. As the water on your body heats up it evaporates and takes the heat away from your body, thus cooling you down.
  2. Wear damp clothes – when you put a load of washing on, don’t dry the clothes straight away, keep a few pieces damp and then put them on periodically throughout the day, even wear a damp nightie. It feels amazing, especially if you have to do anything physical, it really cools you down (for the same reason as number 1). I only came across this idea this week and it is one of my faves!
  3. Open the loft/attic door and let the hot air escape – another one we only tried this week, we couldn’t believe how much cooler the upstairs felt after we opened it!
  4. If the air outside is hotter than inside, keep the doors, windows and curtains closed. We have a thermometer to check, but it is pretty clear when you just walk outside in this weather! Today it was 31 degrees outside but inside our lounge, with the windows and curtains closed it stayed at 25 degrees most of the day. Apparently this only works if your home is well insulated.
  5. Hot drinks vs cold drinks? I did some research on this one and though hot tea actually cools you from the exterior, the research shows that internally the only drink that made a difference to the core body temperature was slush puppies – so basically drinking tiny particles of crushed ice. Large ice cubes melt in your mouth, but small ones travel to your stomach and cool you from the inside. So have a slush puppy or a cool drink with crushed ice. 
  6. To cool the kitchen down, mop the floor, again the room will cool as the water evaporates.
  7. Hang wet clothes, towels etc from windows, same reason as above (though this works less if it is very humid).
  8. Sleep with a fan on, not only is the white noise soothing and drowns out street noise (or snoring) but it feels very cooling even on the hottest of days (I cannot sleep without a fan on me).
  9. Hang out in air-conditioned places as much as you can. Well this is slightly easier for me as I am on maternity leave at present, but I have been spending a lot more time shopping and going to the cinema this week. Most shops, supermarkets, cafes and of course cinemas are well air conditioned, and it is a lovely respite from the oppressive heat.
  10. Spend time in the paddling pool – not just for your kids, get in there with them, or at least just your feet.
  11. Sleep under a damp sheet.
  12. Fill up a hot water bottle with cold water, freeze in the freezer, then take to bed.
  13. Put wet wipes in the fridge (with a touch of water) then wipe yourself down as needed. Quick and refreshing.
  14. Buy an air conditioning unit. Okay that’s cheating, and can be quite costly, though we managed to buy one about 10 years ago from ebay at a reasonable cost and it was amazing, it actually lowered the temperature of the room by about 5 degrees or so. It was heavy though.

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7 Things Women need to know about Airshows

spitfires flying duxford airfield

Last weekend I took my boys to the Duxford VE Day Anniversary Airshow because my husband is a huge plane enthusiast (to be clear he isn’t a huge guy enthusiastic about planes, neither is he particularly enthusiastic about huge planes, he just really really loves planes).

Reporter: How do you feel about having a huge gay fan base? Joey: Wow, I don’t even know any huge gay people! (Friends)

My husband had an absolute ball, my 3 year old was entralled, though we had to adjourn to the car for a little while, and I was happy because my boys were happy.

Things you need to know:

1. Bring ear defenders, even for older children

The Jet almost made MY ears bleed, poor little man was scared by the noise because I didn’t bring our good ear defenders (mummy fail!), I purchased a pair there, but they were cheap and didn’t really get the job done. The jet went from screaming at you to just shouting at you – still pretty scary. My air defenders sitting comfortably on the couch at home would have made the jet almost whisper.

toddler at an airshow display3 year old airshow display                                               Red ones – cheap. Blue ones – good.

2. There is a lot of standing around in awe at airshows, so bring something to sit on.

Most people brought picnic chairs (the fold-able, carry-in-a-bag-on-your-shoulder kind). Again we had three of those snoring away in the garage, doing none of us any good. If you have a good back (unlike me) a lot of people simply sat on a picnic blanket.

picnic deck chairs airshow image

3. Be prepared for a lot of numbers and letters to come flying at you:

Husband: Look that’s the 56038-x!!!

Me: erm… is that the pilot’s extension number?

Husband: Don’t be silly it’s clearly last year’s model because this one is the ‘Super-Juicer-Phantom-Crank’!

Me: Ok now you are just shouting appliances at me. (What a good idea though, maybe I should suggest this to the home and garden show organisers as their big finale, flying juicers and exploding toasters, now that would be cool).

AH64-A Apache Helicopter

4. Food is crazy expensive

Just like at airports and theme parks, they know you have no alternatives.

In the words of Jerry Seinfeld “Tuna is very rare here.”

That being said, some airshows actually have very good food vans, with a nice variety on offer that makes it worth a little splurge. At the Sywell airshow a couple of years ago they had some awesome food. Duxford had little choice in food vans, unless they were hidden somewhere, so we paid £20 for two hot dogs, chips and drinks – perfectly reasonable right?! Actually it tasted very nice, and I am not a big fan of picnic food so I was moderately happy. If you wish to save your pennies and/or you have more than one child who eats more than a mouthful of food, then you should bring your own picnic, most people did and there is a lot of green space.

5. Get there early

The actual air display was due to start at 2pm at Duxford, but we arrived around 12, which gave us plenty of time to walk the 7 miles from our car to the venue (yes I am exaggerating – slightly), case the joint, have some food, go aboard some actual Boeing airliners (Nate loved this), check out the souvenirs, go into the Imperial War Museum (IWM) etc. before the show actually started. If you arrive on time you will be walking with your head sky-ward, bumping into people, tripping over dogs for like 2 hours.

2015-05-23 13.06.26airliner boing toddler preschool flying3 year old airliner boing jetpilot cockpit airplane

6. Ticket prices

Yes it costs the same as going to Legoland or Alton Towers for the day. Okay, maybe not quite as much, but yes these shows are around the £30 mark, per person, which as a plane-not-so-much enthusiast I did a big gulp! I was so glad that under 5s were free, phew! If you want to see the planes fly but are not rolling in tenners then you could always park down a country lane outside of the venue and watch from your car – no joking there was a huge line of cars doing that very thing as we left!

7. Bring an in-flight pillow

To stop neck ache. Okay, so I didn’t really do that, but I did consider it, and then I realised, I don’t actually have to look up at the 57th black-phantom-menace-spit-flamer.

In all serious-ness we did have a great day, the hubby was on-air (yep pun) for days and the little man had a great time, he really does love any transport and particularly planes, so he was amazed by the quieter airplanes, the somersaults and the ones that blow spoke out of their a***. Hubby was particularly excited to go aboard the Concorde in the Imperial War Museum (free entry was included as part of the air-show ticket). If you have a plane-crazy husband like me, there are air-shows all over the country all through the year. I found this list of British Air-shows website particularly useful. It’s a good day out for all the family, they have lots of entertainment, bouncy castles, toilet facilities etc.

Have you been to an air-show? Please share some tips with me below.

*This is NOT a sponsored post.

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New Forest – Lymington and Lyndhurst

Last year, hubby and I had a lovely break in Brockenhurst. It was so amazing that we decided to return to the new forest, but a different part. This time we stayed in a B&B just outside of Lymington and used that as base for exploring other parts of the forest. I was initially hoping that Lymington would be the perfect mix of both the ‘new forest’ and the seaside, which is why I chose it, as Brockenhurst was a bit far from the sea, however Lymington doesn’t really have the new forest feel, there are no wandering ponies (which in my mind what is most special about the new forest) and the seafront is not the most picturesque of places, plus the beach is shingle.

However, we didn’t let that deter us and instead spent time in Lyndhurst and Burley. However, before I discuss those I do need to say how absolutely amazing the food was at a pub in Lymington called “Thomas Tripp”. The outside has pretty hanging baskets and is very welcoming, unfortunately when I stepped inside I was put-off as the ambience was not quite right, and didn’t look like a place that would have amazing food, but I am so glad I was wrong. Thomas Tripp had, undeniably, the best ribs and BBQ sauce I have ever eaten in my life! And as a foodie, I have to say I have tried a fair many. They were so unbelievable I had to talk to the owner about them, he explained that they are slowly cooked for like 12 hours, and he came up with the BBQ sauce recipe himself. It was so mind-blowing we actually travelled all the way from Lyndhurst the next day, just to eat there again. The ribs were not the only special things, the garlic and tomato bread must have been made by an Italian because I have only had better in Italy, and the chocolate brownie for dessert was absolutely scrumptious. So if you are ever in the New Forest, find this pub because you will not regret it.

ribs homemade chips corn on the cobgarlic and tomato bread

Lyndhurst

We spent a day in Lyndhurst, half of it shopping and half of it on the new forest open bus tour, which I highly recommend. We went on the red route, which was the longest at 2.5 hours. No matter how hot it is outside, if you are upstairs, in the open it gets very cold and windy, so bare that in mind. It was very beautiful and a great way to see the sights of the forest that we had yet to see. The only downside was that the bus did not have a toilet, which is tricky on such a long tour. There were lots of great touristy shops in Lyndhurst, and if you walk just 5 minutes toward the outskirts, cross over a grate, and there are the ponies, and to my great surprise, wild donkeys.

lyndhurst wild animals

We only had time to stop off at Burley on our way home (as the New Forest Show was on), it was an intriguing little witchy hamlet. Again we were lucky enough to see 2 horses, waiting to use the payphone 😉 Burley was the smallest and probably the prettiest of the places we saw on the tour. If you like a bit of fantasy, this is definitely the place, as it has witches, smugglers and “dragons” in it’s history, and due to this many of the shops sell witch/fantasy themed goods.

new forest ponies

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Butlins ‘Just for Tots’ Review

This year we decided the family holiday would be centred around our toddler, so when we saw Butlins advertising their ‘Just for Tots’ week, we were intrigued and decided to give it a go. Butlins was completely new to us, and I have to say that my original thought/stereotype was not a positive one, probably because of stories I had heard over the years about rowdy hen parties and such. I didn’t need to worry because it was more modern than I had imagined, especially the Wave hotel, where we stayed. Plus because it was a week especially for babies and toddlers, there were no hen parties or loud groups of party-goers, it was all families with young children.

The Wave Hotel

2014-06-06 08.22.21-1

We stayed for 4 nights in June in the Wave hotel (Bognor Regis). I deliberately chose this hotel because I wanted a separate room with a door for my toddler (who sometimes gets out of bed), and because I didn’t want the TV noise to wake him. The Shoreline hotel; while it had a separate room it did not have a door, so even though the Shoreline is targeted at younger children, they really hadn’t thought that aspect through, so I had to book the hotel meant for teenagers just because there was a door! Even though we missed out on ‘putting teddy to bed’ in the shoreline hotel, I was not disappointed with the Wave for these big positives:

  1. It was the newest and most modern of the hotels
  2. You could rent DVDs, Nintendo DS and their games, and Kindles (but note the Kindle requires a HUGE deposit!)
  3. The child’s room had a bunk-bed, with TVs and DVD players on each bunk – that was a lovely treat for Nate
  4. It was very near to the best restaurant for breakfast – the Deck
  5. It had air-conditioning (which was really needed in the hot weather we were lucky to have)

The hotel also has a big games room, but it wasn’t a positive for us because our toddler was too young to be able to play any of the games. In a few years that would definitely become a selling point.

Entertainment

butlins just for tots show

Butlins is well-known for it’s big-centre stage performances, with the red-coats and the special shows, but alas I was not able to see this for myself because, although it was ‘Just for Tots’ week, their nightly big performances still started at 9pm. One evening when I wandered out to get some snacks, I saw a very long queue and I thought, how are people able to do this? If you have a baby or a toddler how are you able to go out late at night? Do they take their babies/toddlers and let them fall asleep to the very loud music? Do they go alone and leave partner at home with the little one? That is what my husband and I do when we are at home, though it is not as fun on your own. Do they have family or friends with them who could babysit? Very good plan, we should try this next time. If anyone has the answer, please let me know as I am intrigued. Even on holiday our little boy was in bed by 7:30pm, mostly because he wouldn’t be able to stay awake any later anyway, and partly to keep him in his routine. Perhaps when he gets a bit older I won’t worry so much about bed times on holiday.

The day-time entertainment, however, was very good and we tried a wide-variety of the activities on offer, most of them free of charge:

  • Theatre shows showing Thomas the Tank Engine, Fireman Sam and more. Nate enjoyed these, although not as much as I thought he would.
  • Puppet Show – there was a puppet theatre showing a variety of shows, including “Monster’s Got Talent”, they also have a session where you can play with the puppets. Nate enjoyed the puppet show but wasn’t interested in playing with them.
  • In-door play area – Nate enjoyed this on the first day, but the next day he was told he was too short to go in, even if I went with him, this made him cry his little heart out. My toddler is quite tall for his age so bare in mind the average 3 year old wouldn’t be tall enough for what looked like a pretty standard soft play (100cm or taller to be allowed in). The side for babies and young toddlers was tiny, Nate barely played there for 5 minutes. This was disappointing.
  • Little Tikes land – this was superb, it is a race track filled with every little tykes vehicle you can think of, with slides, play-houses, wet-play and even a little castle around the track.
  • Fairground rides – a major perk that these are free, downside is the outdoor ones are only open for 4 hours a day, which we found very limiting and therefore didn’t really get to try any of the rides due to it being closed, closed because of weather or long queues. The indoor rides however were open all day, and therefore Nate got to ride them several times, and because of the lack of queues he got to stay on the one ride 4 times in a row, which he enjoyed.
  • Swimming pool – this was fantastic, it had some great slides and water features, all of us really enjoyed that, and despite reviews I read elsewhere, the changing rooms were perfectly adequate and not too cold.
  • Tots soccer – deep in his clingy phase so Nate did not play for long, which is a shame because he loves playing football usually.
  • Messy play – it was indeed messy, with lots of stations set-up for different types of play

Food

This was probably the biggest let down for us, because my husband and I are big foodies. On the otherhand, we were not expecting to eat amazing food at Butlins, so in all fairness the food was as expected. Probably the best food experience we had was breakfast at ‘the deck’ restaurant. It was opposite the wave hotel, so pretty convenient, and of all of the restaurants there that sold breakfast, it was the biggest, offered the most variety and tasted delicious. In the evenings we ate at Papa Johns (didn’t taste the same as the takeaway, so not as good), an american restaurant (too noisy, slow and didn’t care about my son) and on our last night ‘Beachcombers Inn’. We actually really enjoyed the beachcomber, not because of the bog-standard (although quickly served) food, but because it is right next to the park, and since it was a beautiful and warm evening we took the seats right next to the entrance and enjoyed our meal while Nate played. It was the perfect ending to our holiday.

My final thoughts on Butlins are that if your child is of the right age and personality to enjoy all the activities on offer this place will definitely keep them busy. The Wave Hotel was wonderful and in general it was much more modern than I thought it would be. *We paid for this holiday ourselves.

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How often do we do things on the spur of the moment?

In thinking about spontaneity I am reminded of a quote from “Will and Grace” (one of my favourite TV shows):

“You’re always saying we should be more spontaneous…” Grace

“I know, I just didn’t expect it to happen so suddenly!” Will

As a full-time working mum with a toddler, I don’t often do spontaneous things, especially those involving said Toddler – I don’t know about you – but it isn’t easy. They often come with a lot of baggage, and there is bed-time, nap-time, food, nappy changes, mood, toys – so many variables that need to be considered!

Bravely my husband suggested that after work we go for an impromptu picnic with Nate and our Border Collie. Great idea – I thought! The weather was lovely, so on my lunch break I ran out to get a few picnic items and then immediately after work, we collected Nate from nursery, rushed home, grabbed our picnic essentials (which included: picnic bag, blanket, food, toys, our dog Cali and some camping chairs). We were able to get out of the house within 10 minutes and drove over to a lovely spot in Great Linford, alongside the Grand Union Canal.

We had a lovely time! It was so nice to be out in the early evening, usually at this time we dash home, one of us cooks dinner, the other tries to entertain Nate while doing other chores round the house, then we eat, Nate has his milk and then it’s off to bed. However, last night we had a lovely picnic together, no food preparation needed, and then we all walked along the canal and followed that by playing football.

Nate is deep in his transport phase right now too, so he was eager in pointing out all the boats, bikes and airplanes that went by.

Please feel free to share with me your moments of spontaneity with your children, did it work out? It is not an easy thing to do, but when it works you get magic moments like this:

father and son laying down by the canal

Colin and Nate at the canal

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How to keep your baby cool in the summer

Since I was trying to find the answer to this myself, thought I would share what I have learned. It has suddenly gotten quite hot, Nate’s room is around 26 degrees and he has already woken twice tonight. So based on what I have read online and in one of my baby books these are some ideas, but please note that I am not a professional so if you don’t feel comfortable with any of these suggestions please don’t do them.

1. Strip baby down to just a vest or if very hot just a nappy.
2. Cool baby down with a washcloth/flannel that is luke-warm-cool, not too cold as it will shock baby.
3. Strip bedding down to bare minimum and use cotton where possible as its breathable.
4. Remove things like bumpers, cot tidies etc and anything stopping good airflow into the cot.
5. Open a window or put a fan on but make sure baby is out of direct contact with cool air.
6. Give baby some cool water to drink or a cool bottle of milk, make sure baby stays hydrated.
7. If breastfeeding you may want to put something in between the skin like muslin or a cool cloth as skin to skin contact can be very warming.
8. There is a water spray called Magicool that you can spray on the face to help cool down, although I don’t know how suitable that is for babies.
9. For older babies/toddlers you can freeze fruit and let them suck on them. It can get quite sticky though.

Hope these ideas have helped.
Happy Sleeping!

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