Cars I have loved.

When I was little we had a Renault 5…

How many years have you been driving? asks Mr A, busy trying to sort out our car insurance.

‘Er how old am I again?’ I have to ask these days as I realised I was telling people I was a year older than I am earlier this year. ’35. Right, so 17…nearly 18 years.’

Mr A carries on working out how much the insurance will cost on the new car he has his eye on and I start thinking back over the cars I have loved and driven. I wrote a post a while back about seeing a Mini Metro like my mum drove, it is funny how many memories cars evoke when you see them. Continue reading

Travel Destinations: Cyprus

Cyprus June 2009

Credit: Cyprus June 2009 by puritani35, on Flickr

Travel experts are suggesting there may be bargain holidays to be had in Cyprus this year, following its economic crisis and resulting drop in bookings, particularly from German tourists  Cyprus has never been as cheap as Greece or Turkey, but now could be a great time to visit and offer a boost to the tourism industry. Continue reading

Camp Bestival’s Literary Tale with Howard Marks

Camp Bestival have announced their biggest and best literary programme yet with an inspirational selection of over 50 speakers, authors, poets, journalists, scientists, philosophers, kids’ writers, illustrators and foodies including Eddie ‘The Eagle’ EdwardsJo WhileyTrevor Phillips OBECharlie BrooksHoward MarksScroobius PipKate TempestAdele ParksLily Vanilli and many more.

More on the line up for Camp Bestival 2013 here, for more on our experiences last year, see our review and our video!

A luxury family break

I was sorely tempted just to let the pictures and the blurb do the talking when I was asked to write about family breaks in the UK with the Luxury Family Hotels family. How many hotels these days really deliver on this?

We understand that if your children are happy, so are you. Therefore, children are always warmly welcomed, making your life easier and ensuring that they have a fantastic time.

 

The Luxury Family Hotel family consists of eight hotels around the country, This is Thornbury Castle in the Cotswolds which is high on my list as we love both castles and the Cotswolds. Miss  L, inspired by Horrible Histories, is currently making me read a kids’ history of Henry VIII, who stayed at Thornbury with Anne Boleyn. Continue reading

My bathroom does the talking

The bath (1867) by Alfred Stevens

Tots 100 have a competition to win a new bathroom by explaining why you would like a new bathroom and what it would look like. Over to my bathroom for…

The why…

It is dark and quiet in the Alexander Residence now, sleep descends like a fog and only the relentless drip, drip dripping of an abandoned tap torments me now. Enough, I say, I shall confess all dear reader, it is almost without realising that people share their darkest secrets and desires in here with me, that I bear that weight like a pipe fit to burst.

Take the lady of the house for example, whilst she may she shine and smile and speak with good manners and eloquence, you would find her quite slothenly in matters of housekeeping. Indeed if you were to run your finger across that sink top, well, then I can see that you dear reader, a pure and houseproud soul, would be quite sickened by the way the dust and grime clung to your finger tip. If you were to run your finger along the shower screen your very soul would recoil at the build of scum and debris.

It wasn’t always like this I must divulge dear reader, for you seem quite horrified at my revelations. Once the bathroom was a place for her to retreat, to dream and to luxuriate. Now she shudders at the sight of my cracked and peeling walls. But let me try to remain in the present, painful thought that is, for I can see you are keen for more tales of disrepair and degradation.

The young master is a curious child, forever littering the bath with small keepsakes and treasures. I must not omit to mention his older sister, as wild as her curls, forever conjuring strange potions in her bath. Between you and me, for you seem a trustworthy soul, there are few nights when they are not to be heard, screaming like banshees when the lord or lady of the house requires them to take a bath. In my hey day children were seen and not heard.

Where the original bath once stood, now stands a strange cubicle, which they call the shower. Between you and me this obsession with showering so frequently is quite baffling, nothing quite like it I ever saw. The lord of the house is sent quite delirious with it, in fact the transformation of his countenance following one of these showers is really quite remarkable. A modern day miracle.

Yet, I must confess he remains quite blind to the broken door, the mould creeping up my walls and the cruel way the steam laps at my paintwork. The lady of the house cruelly taunts my pipes with her long hairs, until I am choking…

 

The what…I think my bathroom has said quite enough, he is prone to being melodramatic, but he has a point.

My dream bathroom is Victorian. I dream of returning my shabby modern bathroom to it’s Victorian roots. Bathrooms shouldn’t be boring, minimalistic, clinical spaces. They shouldn’t be littered with kid’s toys, plastic bottles and harsh lights. They should be places to dream a little.

They should be places to luxuriate, with candles, armchairs, plants and curtains. I might have nowhere near enough room for a washstand and an armchair, and it might just be for show, but a shelf with an old wash jug and bowl wouldn’t go amiss. I want a fern, a big oval mirror, not a cracked and square cabinet mirror. I want a treasure box for the kids toys, not a plastic storage box. I want another one for my trashy magazines, bath bombs and chocolates. I want this…

A tin bucket for my backscrubber and sponge. Fluffy purple towels. I want Victorian perfume bottles and somewhere to put my wine and candles…

And a novel to devour….

It goes without saying I want a roll top bath.

Pimp my Scooter #5 Namees

We love scooter pimping in the Alexander Residence, but we haven’t yet found a personalised scooter number plate that was robust enough. Until now!

Namees have a unique retro style which really appeals. They are made from two pieces of strong acrylic panel, one with the background colour, one laser cut with the child’s name and logo to produce a funky 3D effect which looks even more stunning when it catches the light.

Miss L and Mr G’s Namees kids’ personalised scooter nameplates

The rubber straps are easy to attach and easily adjustable. The delivery arrived attractively and securely packaged, with fitting instructions.

They were a hit in our house, L and G both loved the idea of having a number plate like a car. Given the sheer number of scooters parked daily in our school scooter parking area, they also make finding the right scooter much easier.

Namees also make bike nameplates, door signs and bag labels. Guaranteed to add a splash of (unmistakeable) colour to a child’s door, school bag or wheels. They are £9.99 or £6.99 for bag labels. To see the full range and order a Namee, visit the Namee website.

Groovy personalised bike nameplates by Namees

Like some of the best scooter inventions out there, Namees were created by two mums, these lovely ladies are local to me here in Nottingham. The first name plates were made as a gift for their own children. People started to ask where they came from, and so Namees was born.

If you are still on the fence about Micro Scooters, Jen at Love Chic Living has a really thorough Micro Scooter review and video this week.

Giveaway CLOSED congratulations to number 47 @snarepuss

I have an On the Go Namee to give away today, your choice of personalised scooter or bike numberplate. Or if you prefer a door or bag sign.

To enter just leave a comment below and please subscribe to the Alexander Residence by reader, bloglovin or by email:

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Up to 5 extra entries for each of the following, but please remember to add an extra comment for each one you have done.

  • Like Alexander Residence on facebook
  • Like Namees on facebook
  • Follow @Aresidence
  • Follow @NameesDesigns on Twitter.
  • Tweet something like:  #Win a fab children’s Scooter or Bike personalised nameplate from @NameesDesigns http://wp.me/p2d61f-2qH
Terms and Conditions
  • Six entries maximum per person
  • Entrants need to use a separate comment for each entry
  • The winners will be selected at random.
  • The prize, as described in detail above, will be supplied by Namees and is non refundable and non exchangeable.
  • Closing date Midnight Friday 17th May.
  • Winner will be notified by email and have 7 days to respond, after which time a redraw will take place
  • UK entries only

 

ThePrizeFinder – UK Competitions

Have you seen the new Evian babies Ad? You should!

I wasn’t sure about this one at first, I was told the first Evian babies campaign went viral. This didn’t grab me at first, but then…wow it just had me grinning. Very cool, very cute and very life affirming. Love a great advert, especially on a Monday morning that has been pretty slow going.

Sponsored post – I am paid to post ads from time to time. As an ex media teacher I choose to share ones I love, but I am not paid per click.

Spring Online Week – helping more people become digitally capable

There’s more to being online than sharing pictures of your food, but it is fun and can spark some good conversations and memories.

As I sat and tried to explain social networks to my Dad a couple of weeks back, as I was Instagramming pictures of our pizza, it struck me quite how many online skills I have picked up that I take for granted. But it hasn’t always been like that, I remember my first fumbling forays online at university, feeling totally baffled by this beast called the internet. As a blogger I often find online baffling, but luckily I now have a great network of online friends who are just a message away when I need technical support.

So when E.ON asked me if I would like to help give something back to those who aren’t online, I jumped at the chance. I was quite stunned to learn there are 11 million adults in the UK without the skills they need to get online. Being online has opened so many doors for me, travel to other countries, job opportunities, parenting advice, friendship and involvement with charities and causes. It saves me time and money and is a constant source of inspiration and reference at my fingertips.

Spring Online week takes place from 22-26 April and E.ON want to get involved in helping people get online. E.ON is a Founder Partner of Go ON UK, a charity that aims to make the UK the most digitally capable nation in the world. People who are not online miss out on many social and employment opportunities. They miss chances to save money by comparing energy suppliers.

So I am joining E.ON employees at an Open House on Lister Gate, near the Broadmarsh Shopping Centre, in Nottingham, on Wednesday 24 April, they will be helping anyone who drops in to learn some basic online skills to get them started with the internet.

Anyone can come along, perhaps there is a friend, neighbour or family member you know who could benefit? Please come and say hello. The short 5-15 minute sessions will focus on:

  • What email is and how it works
  • How to browse the internet and find things that you are interested in
  • How to fill out forms and transact using personal information
  • Advice on how to stay safe online

I’m going along to chat to visitors about how my family benefit from using the internet. How Skype keeps my family together from Cheshire to Nottingham to London, how looking things up online helps me be a better parent, how networking online has led to job opportunities.

Keeping in touch with my brother and nephew online using Skype

Then there’s how much more relaxing ordering my shopping online is, rather than shopping with my 4 year old, and how online banking and shopping helps us to keep my spending in check. And how those people inside my computer, well they’ve become really good friends too!

Travelling to Ghana with Comic Relief and bloggers Mummy Barrow and Mammasaurus, I’m on the right!

Hope to see you, or perhaps someone you know there.

Sponsored Post

 

The art of a good night’s sleep

Ah, like butter wouldn’t melt in their mouth. Ha!

Ever wondered what your sleep looks like? Before we went to Bologna over Easter Ibis invited us to test out their Sleep Art App. Sleep Art app for iPhone basically tracks movement and noise through the night and then wakes you up at the alarm time you set with a unique piece of art based on your patterns.

We stayed in the Ibis hotel close to Gatwick, ready for our flight the next morning. More on our stay later, but look, this is a rather special memory, I’m not quite sure whose sleep it was, as me and the kids shared a bed, while my Dad snored in peace in his own room next door.

How lovely is that! You can download the Ibis Sleep app for iPhone and turn your sleep into a work of art here.

I should point out Mr G decided to wear his ear defenders all the way to Italy, I suspect so he could sound me out, and not because it was noisy at the hotel. Quite the opposite in fact, the hotel is soundproofed so you are guaranteed a quiet night.

With rooms starting at £30 the Ibis makes a really good value stopover. It was very clean, very comfortable and the room was modern and inviting. Recent research suggested what travellers most want from a hotel is clean sheets and towels and we got that here.

There is both a hotel run minibus and a shuttle bus to the airport, both around £3 per adult and child over £5. It takes about 10 minutes and runs half hourly. Our driver was from Hungary and lovely to chat to and really helpful. There are other hotels on site at Gatwick, but you will pay a premium to stay there.

Food at the hotel was simple but surprisingly tasty and very child friendly. I had pizza and salad with L and G tucked into a jacket. Dad said his pie was good which is high praise from a foodie like him. Breakfast was a buffet with lots of choice.

Thanks for having us Ibis.

Disclosure – our rooms were provided in return for trialling the sleep app and reviewing our stay.

The Game of Life

 

One of my favourite games when I was a kid was the Game of Life, don’t know if you ever played it? After sticking little pegs in a plastic car to represent partner and kids and landing on a square that determined your job, there came a point in the game, a day of reckoning, where you could either retire to the millionaire’s mansion or the country cottage. Anyway it got me thinking about how I might play that moment in my real life.

To tell the truth I didn’t really get how to weigh up the different annuity options at the end of the game. As a kid I would often opt for the country cottage just because it seemed like a cosier place to be. But I’m pretty sure there was another reason, I think you got more security there? I need to buy this game to play with my own children, but I googled the rules and found that:

If you retire at Countryside Acres,
collect 1 LIFE Tile. Your LIFE tiles
are safe! If the draw pile has run out,
players cannot take tiles from you
when they land on LIFE spaces.

So there was definitely more security and less risk in that cottage.The different retirement options baffled me, so the cottage seemed like an easy option.

Anyway fast forward to real life, just like in the Game of Life, I prefer low risks with my finances, but I married someone who is hell bent on the millionaire’s mansion. That day of retirement reckoning is getting closer, but I am not sure I am any closer to understanding pensions and how to calculate annuity.

I read recently you can get them with a fixed and a variable portion which sounds like a middle ground between the country cottage and the millionaires mansion to me. I need to put aside a day for a real day of reckoning. I still feel like that ten year old retiring to a country cottage, but twenty five years on and it is high time I made a plan to make that a reality!

What was your Game of Life strategy and has it played out in real life?

Commissioned Post

Summer tops fashion trends for 2013

I spy sunshine! Aghhh, summer wardrobe panic begins.

Let’s face it, the term Tee shirt is used quite loosely these days, and finding a perfect shaped and patterned top is no mean feat. So what are the summer tops fashion trends for 2013? Big trends this Summer, according to Elle, are stripes, lace, leather, floral and checkerboard. Glamour featured slogan Tees. I’ve picked out a few examples of these trends that grabbed my eye. Continue reading