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Day 5 - Summer Holidays 2018 - National Space Centre - Leicester

Day 5 was the last day of our summer break and it was the day we were heading home. We had noticed that en-route home there was a space centre in Leicester. Little did I realise that we'd spend the whole day there and love it SO much.
It was a little further off the motorway than we thought but it was well worth the detour. The tickets can be upgraded (for no extra charge) to become annual tickets and I would love to have the chance to visit again before our year is out.

I've always had a bit of a fascination with space but hadn't realised just how much I was into it until this visit. Richard had bought me a telescope a few years ago but apart from the odd bit of stargazing I hadn't really done anything else particularly 'space' related in my life. 

I found this place to be totally awesome. In every place I looked I came across the most fascinating facts about space - I was mesmerised.

The tickets include a 3D show in the planetarium and that was incredible too - we did find it a mixture of annoying and funny to have a toddler behind us asking "what's that?" with every new thing that came on screen - but I reminded my kids that they too were that age once and that they too can still be pretty annoying at times.    

J has had a fascination with the book and film, The Martian, recently and so it was fabulous to see the space suit that Matt Damon wore in the film.
There was just so much to see and do that even after spending the entire day there I still felt I had more to see that I hadn't had time to fully enjoy.

The gas show was really educational and fun for the kids to watch.





I would thoroughly recommend this place to all! It certainly was my highlight of our few days away.

Then it was home through buckets of rain on the motorway with my head filled with wonderful space facts.
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Day 4 - Alton towers - Summer Holidays 2018

Whilst it may seem like I have missed out Day 3 of our break, I didn't actually take any decent photos to share. It was actually a stressful day with issues with J in the morning and D in the afternoon. We visited Cannock Chase country park which was a lovely place to visit but it was ASD issues galore that spoilt the day.

Onto Day 4. Now if there was ever a time in my life that I felt totally stupid, this was it. We had made the decision to have our summer break in Staffordshire, not far from Alton towers on the basis that I had won several tickets for Alton Towers as part of the Pepperami promotion. Staying up late and waking up in the early hours to enter the codes had proved fruitful. 

It had almost become too obvious as we have even told everyone that we were heading up to the Peak District because of these Alton Towers tickets and we needed to use them before the end of the season. We live too far to make a day of it so we ended up focusing our whole summer holiday around these tickets.

So naturally I assumed that Richard had packed the tickets because it was such an obvious thing to pack (he is normally in charge of things like tickets and passports) and he had assumed that I had packed the tickets because I had won them (as I'm normally in charge of making sure I have anything related to prize wins). On the evening of Day 2 (well technically in the middle of the night) I suddenly had a sickening feeling in my stomach as it dawned on me that I hadn't packed the tickets for Alton Towers and that I hadn't seen or heard Richard mention them either. I awoke him to ask him as we had planned to make Day 3 our Alton Towers day. 

We spent a good few hours awake in the night trying to figure out what to do. It was unlikely that we could turn up to Alton Towers and tell them what happened - why would they let us in without tickets. Would we get another opportunity to visit this part of the country before the expiry date on the tickets? Unlikely. Could we get a courier to bring the tickets to us from home? Expensive. 

In the end it was good old Royal Mail to the rescue, along with some fantastic help from granny and grandad who retrieved the tickets from our house and sent them 1st Class guaranteed by 9am delivery next day which meant they arrived in time for us to visit Alton Towers on Day 4 of our break rather than Day 3 but at least it meant we could go! 

We waited by the windows watching for the Royal Mail van - we didn't want to miss signing for the delivery after all that had happened.  













Me and Miss T had a fabulous time in Cbeebies land in particular. She loved Justin's house and I loved the Charlie and Lola part. The rides were just right for us and not too scary.

The boys headed to some of the bigger and scarier rides.

We decided to have a late lunch / early evening meal at the Rollercoaster restaurant. Now be warned, we had planned ahead and on the website it had said no bookings at lunchtime and that lunch continued until 5pm. When we turned up they said lunch ended a lot earlier and that reservations were needed in the evening. As we had screenshots of their website details and had made our plans for the day according to this, they did find us a space for our meal in the end. I wasn't too impressed with the veggie options so only had a starter myself. It is definitely more about the experience of the food arriving to the table on the rollercoaster tracks than the actual food itself which wasn't anything too special.



So that was day 4 but little did I know that the best was still to come in Day 5's adventures! 

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Day 2 - Summer 2018 - Blue John Cavern, Mam Tor and Bakewell

One of my friends has visited the Peak District a lot so I knew she would be full of great ideas on places to visit. 

So taking her recommendations on board, we spent the day visiting the fascinating Blue John Cavern, stunning National Trust site Mam Tor and then stopped for Bakewell tarts in Bakewell. 


 Wrap up warm...it gets cold in the cavern.




It turned out to be a beautiful sunny day despite a cloudy start so we enjoyed sitting by the bridge in Bakewell, eating Bakewell tarts of course.

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Summer holidays 2018 - Day 1 arriving in Staffordshire

Just catching up on more of last year's blog posts. I like to capture our time away on the blog so I didn't want to miss our summer holiday in 2018.

We didn't go abroad but instead had a midweek break staying at Moorecourt cottages in Upper Leigh, Staffordshire. 

The journey was fairly peaceful as I drove half the way and the kids aren't used to me doing motorway driving so they kept very quiet so that they didn't disturb me. Then J fell asleep for part of the journey so that was great too! 


We stayed in Fieldfare cottage, part of Moorcourt cottages and were very pleased with it. I sent D and Miss T around the cottage to take photos...









They seemed to enjoy photobombing by sneaking into some of the photos too.

It was about 4 hours drive from home so we only really had time for a very quick look around the local area and awaited our Tesco delivery and the day was over.
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Dad

Why is it the the times you most feel the need to write that the words are the hardest to find. It was on Easter Sunday last year that I lost my dad. 

The memories of losing my mum back in 2002 are still far fresher than one would imagine and the responsibility of her funeral fell onto me all those years ago and so I am incredibly grateful to my sisters for making the funeral arrangements for our dad this time around. 

One of the things I remembered from before was the undertakers offering to take photos of the flowers - that proved to be a comfort in the months following and something I was able to share with relatives that couldn't make it. 

So this time I gave Miss T the task of taking her camera and taking some photos. 

I do believe that God shows comfort to us in meaningful ways that are so specific to each of us. For me, forget-me-nots have been my favourite flower for as long as I can remember. I used to love weaving them into my hair as a child. I loved how delicate and tiny each one was and yet together they were able to make a blanket of blue. I loved the magic of how sometimes you'd find the odd pink or purple forget-me-not instead of the usual blue.
And for Dad's funeral there was a beautiful sea of blue forget-me-nots filling the graveyard everywhere I looked. That proved to be so so special and a real comfort to me - as if God was whispering "I know" and "I'm with you".

Easter Sunday is an incredibly meaningful day for me too and so I don't think that was any coincidence either. It was the day I was baptised back in 2002. Whilst I think it would ordinarily be harder when it comes to the anniversaries of losing someone on a day when everyone else is celebrating - in this particular case I'm hopeful that it will make it easier for me knowing the importance of that day changing my life forever.
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Honest Mum's Mumboss book launch afternoon tea

I have so much blogging to catch up on that I can't decided whether to get the more recent December and Christmas posts done or to plough through the rest of 2018 to continue to get my phone cleared of the older photos first...Well I decided this one is well overdue as it is from May 2018 (yes I know - a whopping 9 months ago - hangs head in shame) but it was such a special day that I kept procrastinating writing it up. 

Anyhow at long last here it is...

I have long loved Vicky Psarias' blog, Honest Mum, and regularly pop by for a read and enter the latest competitions on there but I had never won anything from that particular blog before. So I was thrilled to receive an email inviting me to the Afternoon Tea and evening do for Vicki's Mumboss book launch. The Afternoon tea was at Royal Garden Hotel and the evening event at the Mahiki nightclub nextdoor.  

As much as I WANTED to go, life was at full stretch last April and May time with Miss T spending two-weeks at GOSH for physio rehab for her JIA. I had also just been offered a new job - it was my first time back in a proper workplace in 15 years!!! (rather than freelancing from home) so I was busy preparing for that. As I was contemplating whether I would actually be able to go, I received a message from a friend who lives miles away who I had met at the Aldo Zilli event back in 2017, telling me that she had won a ticket to be there too. So I decided I would absolutely make it a priority to go as it would be amazing to catch up with her. 

Plus I adore the Royal Garden Hotel as we've been lucky enough to enjoy a family stay there before as well as a gorgeous afternoon tea on a couple of previous occassions - you can read about those here and here. So on a gorgeously sunny day in May I set off to London. 

The afternoon began with a Q&A with Vicki being interviewed by Marie Claire'sAndrea Thompson followed by questions from the audience, followed by plenty of chatter and afternoon tea meeting new friends. 

Mumboss book launch Q&A

Andrea Thompson interviewing Vicki Psarias

Just look at this GORGEOUS cake made by Royal Garden Hotel especially for the book launch
One of the things that draws me back to reading the Honest Mum blog time and time again is how Vicki's family are a core part of what she does. Her two boys regularly feature on the blog and in reviews. And they are just adorable!


After our delicious afternoon tea, me and my friend (also called Rebecca!) spent several hours chatting away in the sunshine of Kensington Gardens. It was just the most stunningly sunny day. 

I don't think I have yet mastered taking selfies!
Then evening arrived and we headed to Mahiki Kensington - right next door to the Royal Garden Hotel.
We met up with friends we'd been chatting to earlier in the day and met new friends.
Seeing Vicki's contagious confidence and speaking to these lovely ladies, I decided to have the final push of the book that I'd been writing in snatched pockets of time. I had never originally intended to publish it but with the encouragement of everyone I've met and who has heard about my hobby and my book, I finally went for it and got the book finished and on sale at Amazon. With proceeds from Overcoming the Odds going to charity to find a cure for Juvenile Arthritis, I am really glad that I did publish it and I know it has inspired others also.
I have to confess that I didn't stay long at Mahiki as I was desperate to see Miss T as it approached her final day of the 2 week stay at GOSH. We hadn't told her I was going to visit, so it was a really special surprise for her to have mummy turn up unexpectedly in London to see her!
The following day was her final physio assessment of the 2 weeks and then she was free to go home. We celebrated with a special lunch at Ametsa en-route home.

Interestingly it is often when we are up at Great Ormond Street Hospital that I pick up a copy of City Kids magazine and it was in the following issue that they had featured a piece with Vicki - what a fab coincidence - as I got to relive the happy memories of the day reading that the next time I was up at GOSH!
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