Friday, 2 June 2023

What I've been up to lately

It's been a while since I've done one of these posts, so I thought I'd share a few of the things that I've been up to lately!


I've been reading a lot as usual, and I recently shared some of my latest top reads. I'm currently reading The Luminaries by Eleanor Catton which is a long book, a former Booker prize winner which is why it caught my eye. I'm enjoying it but it's not an easy read, there are loads of characters and it's important to remember all the relationships between them. Luckily there are some summaries written into the narrative to help to keep the reader caught up with things!

I'm also reading The Rebecca Notebook by Daphne du Maurier which is a short book so I'm trying to make it last as I'm really enjoying it. I love Rebecca and it's interesting to read the original ideas for the plot and also an alternative epilogue.


I've hardly watched any television recently! We don't have any series that we are watching at the moment, and by the time I've got the children in bed it's getting too late to sit down to a film. We did get out to the cinema to see the new Guardians of the Galaxy film which was very good.


Over the last few weeks I've been working on my journal and starting to fill it with a few simple sketches and illustrations. I don't want to share any yet because I'm still learning! I've been really interested in looking at urban sketching - quick, loose sketches that are made while out and about. I'm too shy to take my sketchbook out in public yet but I'm hoping that I can improve my skills a bit at home and build up some courage!

I was incredibly proud of this balloon arch which I made for Mia's birthday to use as a photo backdrop. It was really easy, I bought a kit from Amazon for about £15 but all you really need is a big heap of balloons and some balloon tape, which is a thick plastic tape with holes in for the balloon ties. Blowing up the balloons was a bit of a mission, but the kit came with a balloon tying tool which was really good for saving my fingers. With a foil curtain behind it looked amazing, the trouble is that now everyone will want one for their birthday!

Homemade balloon arch for birthday


I've kept the garden simple this year, I'm only growing sunflowers, tomatoes and broccoli! They have all been doing well outside in the gorgeous sunny weather, most of my tomatoes are still in pots outdoors but this weekend I'll be planting them out in the vegetable patch if I have enough room, I have loads!


With Mia's birthday and half term there has been far too much junk food in the house. We've been making brownies, eating pancakes and waffles, as well as far too many crisps and biscuits. When they are back at school I need to get back to my healthy soups and wraps!


I've felt a bit out of touch with my blog recently which is a shame as I love writing it. I'm finding it a little difficult as the children grow up and I don't like to write about them too much, also I always focussed on crafts for children and now they are too old for that. So I've been brainstorming away and coming up with new ideas for things to write about. 

Feeling proud of

Both my children! Harry took his Computer Science GCSE last term, he's only in year 9 and has pretty much taught himself so I'm really proud of his achievement. Mia has her grade 3 flute exam coming up in a couple of weeks and she's done so well, she works really hard at her practice. She's also taught herself to do the splits and a couple of other difficult yoga poses, she's such a good example of showing massive improvement by working at something every day.

Looking forward to

Is it too early to be looking forward to the summer holidays?! This week has reminded me how lovely it is to have that long stretch without the stress of the school run, packed lunches, homework and so on. We also have a holiday coming up which I'm looking forward to. 

What have you been up to lately?

Wednesday, 31 May 2023

Some Worthing street art and murals

I've been living in and close to Worthing for over twenty years now, and during that time it has definitely become a much cooler town. Lots of people have moved down from London over the years and it has also attracted a lot of people who can't afford to live in Brighton, meaning that it has become a bit more fashionable, more diverse, and just generally a more interesting and vibrant place to live.

I don't head into the town centre that often these days, but as the children's school is quite central I sometimes take myself for a walk after I've parked nearby and recently I've been noticed how much amazing street art there is on my route! I took the photos below on a short loop within half a mile or so of the school, and according to this article - Where to find the best Worthing street art - there is plenty more to find.

I've put this one first because it's the one that I see every day as I approach the road that I park in. It's a portrait of Simon Mayo and from the article above I can see that this and most of the street art that I've discovered are are by an artist called Horace, who can be found on Instagram @the.horace

Simon Mayo street art by Horace in Worthing

This is another that catches my eye, it's on the wall of a charity shop where I'm often dropping off donations and I love the sentiment 'Don't watch the news'!

Worthing Life is Beautiful mural by Horace

Next to it is this amazing cat mandala in gorgeous shades of blue.

Worthing cat mural mandala street art by Horace

I also love this portrait by the same artist on the wall of a pub.

Worthing mural face on building by Horace

Of course it wouldn't be Worthing without a seagull!

Worthing street art seagull on electrical box

Finally I think this this work on The Libertine Social is by a different artist, I love the bright cheerful flowers.

Street art flowers at The Libertine Social in Worthing

Reading the article above has inspired me to go hunting for more street art as it looks as though Worthing is quite a hotspot for it!

Cat mural mandala close up by Horace

Exploring Cairo: An unforgettable journey into Egypt's capital

This is a collaborative post


Cairo, the vibrant capital of Egypt, is a city steeped in history, culture, and intrigue. From the majestic pyramids of Giza to the bustling markets and stunning mosques, Cairo offers a captivating blend of ancient wonders and modern delights. If you're planning a trip to Cairo, this article will serve as your comprehensive guide, providing essential information, travel tips, and must-visit attractions to ensure a memorable and enriching experience.

Preparing for Your Trip

a) Valid Passport: Ensure your passport is valid for at least six months beyond your planned departure date. Check the entry requirements for your country of residence and ensure you have the necessary visa or entry permit, click here for travel visa requirements.

b) Climate and Clothing: Cairo experiences hot summers and mild winters. Dress modestly and comfortably, keeping in mind the cultural norms and respect for local traditions. Light, breathable clothing is recommended, along with sunscreen, a hat, and comfortable walking shoes.

c) Health and Safety: Consult your healthcare provider or a travel clinic to determine if any vaccinations or medications are recommended for your trip. Take necessary precautions against the sun, stay hydrated, and be cautious of your surroundings.

Important Tips

a) Check Visa Validity: Ensure that your visa is valid for the duration of your stay in Cairo. Overstaying your visa can result in fines or other complications when leaving the country. If you wish to extend your stay, contact the Egyptian immigration authorities well in advance to explore the possibility of obtaining a visa extension.

b) Travel Insurance: It is highly recommended to have travel insurance that covers medical emergencies, trip cancellations, and other unforeseen circumstances during your stay in Cairo.

c) Keep Copies: Make photocopies or digital scans of your passport, visa, and other important documents. Keep these copies separate from the originals and carry them with you. It will be helpful in case of loss or theft of your documents.

Getting to Cairo

a) Flight: Cairo is well-connected to major international airports worldwide. Book your flights in advance to secure the best deals and convenient travel times. Cairo International Airport is the primary gateway, located approximately 15 kilometres northeast of the city centre.

b) Transportation: From the airport, various transportation options are available, including taxis, ride-sharing services, and airport shuttles. Ensure you use licensed taxis and agree upon a fare before beginning your journey.

Exploring Cairo's Highlights

a) The Pyramids of Giza: A visit to Cairo is incomplete without witnessing the iconic Pyramids of Giza. Marvel at the Great Pyramid of Khufu, explore the ancient tombs, and take a moment to ponder the mysteries of these incredible structures.

Pyramids of Giza
Photo credit Spencer Davis via Unsplash

b) Egyptian Museum: Immerse yourself in Egypt's rich history at the Egyptian Museum, home to an extensive collection of artefacts, including the treasures of Tutankhamun. Admire the awe-inspiring exhibits and gain insights into the ancient civilization.

c) Islamic Cairo: Step into the heart of the city's historic district, where you'll find an array of architectural gems, such as the iconic mosques of Sultan Hassan and Al-Rifa'i, along with the bustling Khan El Khalili bazaar. Lose yourself in the maze of narrow streets, and indulge in the vibrant atmosphere and traditional handicrafts.

d) Coptic Cairo: Discover the Christian heritage of Egypt at Coptic Cairo, where you can visit the Hanging Church, the Coptic Museum, and the Ben Ezra Synagogue. Delve into the religious and cultural significance of this ancient community.

e) Nile River Cruise: Embark on a relaxing Nile River cruise, where you can enjoy breathtaking views of the city's skyline, savor delicious cuisine, and experience traditional Egyptian entertainment. Choose from various cruise options, ranging from a few hours to several days.

Essential Travel Tips

a) Cultural Sensitivity: Respect the local customs and traditions. Dress modestly when visiting religious sites, and be mindful of local norms and etiquette.

b) Language: Arabic is the official language, but English is widely spoken in tourist areas. Familiarize yourself with common Arabic phrases to enhance your interactions with locals.

c) Currency and Tipping: The official currency is the Egyptian Pound (EGP). It's advisable to carry some cash for small purchases and tipping. Tipping is customary in Egypt, particularly for service providers such as guides, drivers, and waitstaff.

d) Bargaining: Negotiating prices is common when shopping at local markets and bazaars in Cairo. Bargaining is a cultural practice, so don't be afraid to negotiate for a better price. Remember to maintain a friendly and respectful attitude while engaging in the process.

e) Local Transportation: Cairo has an extensive public transportation system, including the Cairo Metro, buses, and taxis. The metro is an efficient and affordable way to navigate the city. Taxis are also widely available, but make sure to use licensed taxis with functioning meters or agree on a fare before starting your journey.

f) Safety Precautions: While Cairo is generally safe for tourists, it's always important to remain vigilant. Take precautions such as keeping your valuables secure, avoiding isolated areas at night, and following any local safety advisories.

g) Local Cuisine: Indulge in the flavors of Egypt by trying traditional dishes such as koshari, falafel, and delicious street food. Be mindful of food hygiene practices and opt for bottled water to stay hydrated.

h) Time Management: Cairo is a bustling city with a rich array of attractions. Plan your itinerary wisely and allocate sufficient time for each site. Consider the potential crowds and allow for extra time in case of unexpected delays or closures.

Photo credit Omar Elsharawy via Unsplash


A journey to Cairo offers an extraordinary blend of ancient wonders, vibrant culture, and warm hospitality. By preparing adequately, respecting local customs, and exploring the city's iconic landmarks and hidden gems, you can embark on an unforgettable adventure. Immerse yourself in the rich history, savour the flavours of Egyptian cuisine, and create memories that will last a lifetime. Cairo awaits, ready to enchant and captivate you with its timeless allure.

Friday, 26 May 2023

Some books that I've enjoyed recently

I read a lot, and every now and then I like to share some of the books that I have particularly enjoyed in case anyone is looking for reading inspiration!

Here are some books that I have loved over the past month or so:

A Tale for the Time Being by Ruth Ozeki

Having really enjoyed The Book of Form and Emptiness I was very keen to read more by Ruth Ozeki and I wasn't disappointed. This book is slightly biographical and tells the story of a Canadian author who finds a journal washed up on her local beach, written by teenage girl Nao who grew up in America but has reluctantly moved with her family to Japan. Ruth is pulled into Nao's story and tries to learn more about her and the story that she is telling, and the whole thing is beautifully written.. 

Prodigal Summer by Barbara Kingsolver

I've loved The Poisonwood Bible for years and have re-read it many times, so I can't believe it has taken me this long to read another book by Barbara Kingsolver! Set in southern Appalachia in a remote forested location, the book follows several different characters and appeals to many of my reading interests - an isolated cabin in the woods, peace and quiet, a love of reading, observing nature through the seasons and working towards a goal, as well as some romance. I loved the descriptive text and the way that the voices of the different characters shone through.

A Year of Marvellous Ways by Sarah Winman

Set in Cornwall just after WW2, we meet Marvellous Ways, a ninety year old woman who has lived a remote existence for most of her life. She's ready for one last adventure when she meets Freddy Drake, a young soldier returned from the war with a letter to deliver. As well as being beautifully written the book was also incredibly poignant and really brought home how the war traumatised a whole generation of people from all ages and backgrounds.

The Birdcage by Eve Chase

This was a gripping read, three adult half-sisters are brought together by their famous artist father to the windswept Cornish cliff house where they spent their summers as children before tragedy struck. There are lots of secrets to uncover and it kept me wanting to read more!

Mrs de Winter by Susan Hill

This one wasn't my favourite I must admit, but I love, love, love the book Rebecca and I was intrigued to read a 'sequel' so I thought I'd include it here. It was an enjoyable read but it lacked the writing style of Daphne du Maurier and so it couldn't compare in that respect. The thing I love most about Rebecca is the way that much of the action in the book doesn't happen, it's all in the narrator's imagination. This sequel didn't use that technique at all, although the narrator does admit that she doesn't live in her own thoughts much as she used to. It was also a little bit too convenient, with almost every character from Rebecca being brought back and their story updated. When I first finished it I felt a little sad that I had read it, but a few weeks on I can see that it wasn't that terrible and I did enjoy it.

Pile of books on the windowsill
Photo credit Florencia Viadana via Unsplash

Thursday, 25 May 2023

How to make home office easier as a parent

This is a collaborative post

With remote work increasingly becoming a reality for many parents, the lines between work and family obligations often become blurred. Having the freedom and flexibility of a remote job undoubtedly promises many benefits, but as fulfilling as that may be, the challenges of simultaneously managing work and parenting can sometimes become overwhelming. Juggling work and child-rearing under one roof is a balancing act, requiring clear thinking and planning in order to maintain family harmony.

Simply put, with weekend remote jobs on Jooble, it has never been so easy to find the perfect job and work from home. Let’s dive in!

Woman carrying her baby while working on a laptop
Photo credit Anastasia Shuraeva via Pexels

Six Tips for Balancing a Work Office and Family Life

Here are some useful insights into making your work at home more organized and easier to manage as a parent:

1. Establish a routine

Start by creating a daily schedule that includes dedicated work time and breaks to coincide with your children's routines. Take your children's daily routines, including mealtimes, naps, and school activities, into consideration when creating your schedule.
A set routine will not only help you manage your time more efficiently but also lay down clear rules and expectations for both you and your children. 

2. Set boundaries

Clearly communicate your work hours and expectations to your children. One way to let them know you’re busy working and are not to be disturbed is by using a "do not disturb" sign or another signal that will indicate that you should not be interrupted. Explain to your children that these are your "office hours" when you need to concentrate solely on work.

3. Create a dedicated workspace

Setting aside a specific area in your home as your home office is essential. A designated space will provide a physical boundary that helps separate your professional and personal life. 
Choose a quiet spot in your home that is away from noise and distractions, such as a spare room, or a corner of a room. 

4. Communicate with your children

Explaining the importance of your work to your children and the need for uninterrupted time is crucial for minimizing distractions. Explain to them why your work is important. Help them understand that your work allows you to provide for the family. Emphasize that while you love spending time with them, your work is another important responsibility that requires your full attention.
Be patient and understanding with your children as they adjust to the new routine. It may take time for them to fully grasp the concept and respect your need for uninterrupted work time. 

5. Take advantage of nap time and bedtime

Planning your most important or focused work during your children's nap time or after they go to bed can be a game-changer in terms of productivity. A quiet house with minimal distractions is a golden opportunity to work with undivided concentration.

6. Make use of support

Sometimes, things can get a little hectic and overwhelming. These are the times when you need to call in the troops for support. Ask a member of your family or hire a caregiver to help out when you need to get your work done. 

Here are some of the ways you can get support when needed:

Partner involvement
If you have a partner, discuss ways to share parenting responsibilities. Coordinate your schedules to ensure that both of you have dedicated work time while taking turns caring for your children. 

Family members
Enlist the support of family members. Grandparents, aunts, uncles, or other relatives may be willing to help with childcare, especially during times when you have important deadlines or meetings. 

Consider hiring a caregiver. This could be a nanny, babysitter, or daycare service. 

Final thoughts

Balancing the demands of work and parenting when working from home can be a major adjustment for both you and your family. There will be moments of difficulty and frustration, but don't be too hard on yourself when things don't go as planned. Be comforted by the fact that it will get easier as time goes by and you and your family settle into a balanced routine that works for everyone.

Wednesday, 24 May 2023

Health and wellbeing for children - How to prepare your kids for a future of health

This is a collaborative post

Being a parent has many responsibilities. Perhaps one of the difficulties is taking responsibility for your child’s health and for their health in the future. Their early years can have a huge impact on their health later in life, so it is vital that parents instil healthy habits in their children so they grow to become healthy adults.

Begin With Baby Steps

Even with young children, you can start helping them to understand why their health is important and why they need to exercise. The habits your children begin the early parts of their life with will last them a lifetime. Setting an example is a good start. Let them see you taking care of yourself and keeping your body healthy, and they will take an interest. With a small child like a toddler, everything is ‘monkey see, monkey do’. They will want to replicate your actions and show you they can do it too. 

Table filled with healthy fruit and vegetables
Photo credit Dan Gold via Unsplash

The same goes for healthy foods. Bright-coloured vegetables and fruits can be off-putting to fussy kids, but when they see you enjoying them, their tune will suddenly change. Get them getting their five-a-day as soon as you can, and it will become a dietary habit that lasts them their lifetime.

Planning For Their Future

Medicine is experiencing a revolution in technology and data analysis. New techniques and methods are being designed and implemented that will make preventative care and personalised treatment the norm. Many of the diseases and medical issues we will experience in our lifetimes can be identified with gene sequencing, which can show doctors the problems we could have in the future.

This technology can be used to address diseases before they present themselves, DNA sequencing and genomic research can help you prevent medical problems for your child before they happen. Source BioScience laboratories support hospitals and research centres across the country using their next gen sequencing technology. Using this new technique helps you and your doctor prevent diseases and medical problems in your child before they happen. You can make dietary changes that will help reduce the risks of genetic diseases in the future. 

Fitness As A Family

Setting a health and fitness example for children can equip them with the healthy habits they will need to live a long and healthy life. They need to see you taking steps to maintain your fitness or address any health problems like excess weight. This simple step can have a massive impact on their lifetime health. If you cannot do it for yourself, do it for them.

Make exercise a family activity, even if it is only for a walk in the park. This is a fun afternoon out for kids, and they will enjoy themselves on the slides and swings, but you can also underscore for them that activity is a crucial component of daily life for adults as well as kids. The better a child understands their health and fitness, the fitter and healthier they will be when they are an adult.

Following these healthy steps will help your child grow to become an adult who looks after their health and maintains their fitness. Instilling healthy habits and performing advanced medical checks in your child almost guarantees they have the tools and knowledge they need to thrive in adulthood.

Mother and small child walking on pavement
Photo credit Sue Zeng via Unsplash

Friday, 19 May 2023

What I've planted for the summer

I was a bit late planting my seeds this year because we were away over Easter and then the weather was still so cold that I didn't fancy going out in the garden and digging out all the seed trays and pots! But now summer seems to have come overnight, and my sunny windowsill is full of seedlings that are nearly ready to be moved outside.

When I plant seeds I always end up planting too many in case some don't germinate, and then I can never bear to get rid of any of the seedlings! So I now have twelve broccoli plants on the go and I'm not sure where I'm going to put them. I've never grown broccoli before but we do eat a lot of it so I hope that it turns out well.

Broccoli seedlings in a pot

My two garden favourites are tomatoes and sunflowers, both of which are always successful. This year I bought a mixed pack of sunflowers which are coming on very nicely and I'll be planting outside this week, I have a couple of sunny spots in mind. The tomatoes have a way to go but they are doing well, again I planted a few different varieties and I have loads of seedlings. The plants are going to keep me very busy this summer!

Sunflower and tomato plant seedlings in pots

I'm also keeping a close eye on the gorgeous lavender bush in my vegetable patch. A few years ago my parents bought me a rosemary plant and a lavender plant, with the intention of putting the rosemary in the vegetable patch and the lavender in a separate planter. However they got them muddled up, so I now have a beautiful lavender plant in my vegetable patch! I prune it every year but it keeps getting bigger and bigger and is threatening to take the whole thing over! I really love it, it's beautiful when it's in full bloom and it attracts lots of bees to the garden. I save the lavender to make lavender bags.

Large lavender bush in a vegetable patch

The vegetable patch is now mostly weeded and ready for planting, I'm just waiting for the fallen blossom to disappear and then I'll be raking it over and planning where to put everything. I also have some flower seeds which I'm going to sprinkle here and there, I've not been very successful with flower seeds in the past so I'll have to see how they go. 

What are you growing this year?
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