Having fun and learning with magnets


Most people find magnets absolutely fascinating and the learning potential around them is huge, and needn’t be costly.

We have been really mesmerised by a foam magnetic tangram puzzle (£1.99) from first4magnets.com. Tangrams are ancient Chinese puzzles. The beauty of the tangram is that from just seven pieces you can make hundreds of different shapes and figures, the potential for discovering new ones makes tangrams highly addictive.


Having the pieces magnetised makes it easier to keep track of them and they are a simple distraction, perfect for the fridge. They are great for encouraging maths and logic as well as imagination!

We have also been loving these flexible magnetic chalkboard sheets (£3.49). They are great for practising writing on, encouraging all the family to leave notes, or for shopping lists.


They are also a great way of turning a filing cabinet, fridge or washing machine into a black board. They also make a good mobile base for the tangrams. They wipe clean easily with a damp cloth ready to use again and again.

While we were browsing the first4magnets.com website we found some useful resources about magnetism, older children can check out the ultimate guide to magnets for children 8-16 which has activities to download.  There is also an infographic about the history of magnets and this very attractive and fun video guide:

Do your children like to play with magnets?

Post in collaboration with first4magnets.com.

We just popped into Venice, like you do #carnival sunshine #carnivalfamily


The Carnival Sunshine is about to sail, but before it does, we took a trip into our first port Venice. You can see our amazing home for the next 12 days behind us, the awe inspiring Carnival Sunshine. I promise to do a whole post on the ship itself, but for now, come and see Venice… Continue reading

Switch on the F.U.N. We’re off cruising! #carnivalfamily

carnival funnest family bannerI can’t believe we are finally off!

Suitcases packed, house sitter in place, severe excitement setting in! Switch on the fun! Last week Carnival published my answers from our application to be their funnest family on their facebook page -I had totally forgotten what I had written – all about a life changing conversation about family life Mr A and I had which prompted me to apply, and so it has made our trip feel even more poignant!

You can read that Post over at Carnival Cruise Lines UK and keep up with our escapades with a daily post or video on Carnival UK’s facebook page and website.

I will be sharing here, on Instagram, Twitter and facebook too. Huge apologies in advance! If it makes you feel better, we have lots of work to do behind the scenes, reviewing, vlogging, photographing, documenting and having a film made about our experiences.

carnival packing header

Take care

See you soon!



Vision direct to my door

Last week was a funny old week, something happened that really made me angry. I kind of knew it might happen, but it still seemed unfair. A tension headache set in I couldn’t shift. Then I found the answer on You Tube. Two days of hot baths, neck stretching videos, a strong painkiller and some relaxation exercises and it finally shifted this morning.

The rain cleared, the sun came out today and Vision Direct sent me some new sunglasses to review. Appropriately enough they are Versace, which ties in rather well with our cruise with Carnival Cruise Lines, we will be sailing from Venice on Saturday, around Italia making a film and taking lots of photos to document family cruising from a first timers perspective. Continue reading

The Perfect Situation: A National Trust Dovedale Family Walk


Was you ever in Dovedale? I can assure you there are things as noble as Greece or Switzerland.

Lord Byron, of Newstead Abbey, Nottinghamshire.

I can’t fully explain the buzz we felt at the end of Sunday. The four of us sat on a picnic rug at the bottom of a huge hill, by the river, exhilarated, grubby and full of chocolate cake, sharing a huge sense of satisfaction after a Dovedale family walk. The perfect situation.

Dovedale in the Peak District is a place we go back to again and again. I’ve blogged about the snowy walk my Dad and I took there. I’ve also blogged about visiting Ilam and staying at the amazing caravan site. Whatever the season, the Peak District is a great place to visit as a family. Continue reading

What’s your favourite holiday destination?

Old blackboard with clipping path

OntheBeach asked me what my favourite holiday destination was. For me it has to be Italy every time. Even if I have ended up close to tears at my complete lack of Italian. Even if I have sat in Italian beaches heavily pregnant, mosquito bitten and feeling like a very white, beached whale next to olive skinned lithe Italians. I still love the place.

Amazing food, such heaven found in such simplicity . A warm and all encompassing family welcome for bambinos. Steeped in history, art, architecture and stunning beauty at every turn, every square, every side road, every covered archway, every tower, every building.

I have been to Verona with my true love Mr A, been cheered as we sailed under a bridge under a gondola in Venice, sailed across a misty Lake Garda together. Stumbled drunk though Genoa as a student, boarded a train from Milan, fallen asleep and woken up surrounded by snowborders in the the snowy alps. Eaten my self silly in the foodie captial Bologna and sighed at the beauty of field after field of sunflowers in Tuscany.

Italia T’iamo. Just wish we could talk more!

This is an entry for the On the Beach Picture Your Perfect Family Holiday Competition

One rainy Saturday a film crew appeared…


As part of our role as Carnival Cruise Lines funnest family we are making a series of little films with them about what it is like to go on a Cruise for the first time as a family. The first episode is all about meeting us as a family pre cruise.

Saturday saw it rain and rain, but we had tea and biscuits and a film crew to welcome into the Alexander Residence. Some members of the family took to filming like water off a duck’s back, for others – the one with the drama degree and PGCE in Drama and Media – it took a bit more effort. Continue reading

You know you want to….#secretthing #teamhonk2014 the UK relay

bloggersQuick recap, so you’ve signed up for a sport relief event right? Now for the warm up. I kid you not, #teamhonk2014 is flipping epically shamazing!

The important word is relay here, i.e. you can do as much or as little as you like. I might for example, just space hop to A Mummy Too‘s house, I can nearly see it from here…but that seems, well a little too easy given what I saw last year of the world…but you get my drift. You will be part of something incredible however much you do. Continue reading

Hotter Shoes Review: You can take the girl out of Cheshire…

My demure ‘looking’ daughter modelling the beautiful Hotter Shoes Cheshire Boot I have been invited to review.

This is part two of our mother and daughter shopping trip. After spending the morning trying on clothes, we focussed the afternoon on shoes. L chose some studded suede ankle boots, then it was my turn. Continue reading