Wednesday, 1 October 2014

Alphabet Project - U

This week I have selected pictures that are not the best quality but they have been taken during some of the best times. It is easier to capture these moments on the camera on my phone. We are more often than not messing around and playing so can often be a bit blurred but they have caught a special moment in time.

This week I could not select just one as my U word is for everyone. My word is


Us is the perfect word for U.

These are the people that make my world go round, they are what holds me together. They are my everything. I would be lost without them. All of these pictures make me smile.

They all sum up "Us".

As always I am sharing my Alphabet Photo with PODcast - Alphabet Project.

Tuesday, 30 September 2014

Darjeeling Earl Grey Tea Loaf

This is a favourite recipe of mine which has evolved over time. This recipe is based on my Settling Ginger Tea Loaf. I love changing the flavours within this bake. This time I have made it using Darjeeling Earl Grey tea bags which are available from Tea Pigs.

This is what I did...

Darjeeling Earl Grey Tea Loaf


180mls Darjeeling Earl Grey tea (Iused 1 tea bag brewed in the water for about 10 minutes)
225g mixed dried fruit with candied peel
150g dark muscovado sugar
6 whole cardamon pods, seeds removed and crushed
1/4tsp ground ginger
1 egg
225g self raising flour


1 - Leave the fruit to soak in the tea for at least 2 hours

2 - Pre heat the oven to 170C fan

3 - Once the fruit is plumped up and moist tip the fruit and any remaining liquid into a large mixing bowl

4 - Add the muscovado sugar and mix until the sugar has dissolved

5 - Stir in the ground cardamon and ginger

6 - Add the egg and stir thoroughly

7 - Sift in the flour and mix until all of the ingredients are evenly combined

8 - Pour the mixture into a lined loaf tin and place in the centre of the pre heated oven

9 - Bake for 40 - 45 minutes, but check every 10 minutes after 20 minutes of baking. This loaf can often brown quickly so keep a regular eye on the baking and cover with foil once it has browned off enough to prevent burning

10 - Once the loaf is thoroughly baked remove from the oven and leave in the tin for 5 minutes before removing from the  tin and allowing to cool completely on a cooling rack

This loaf is delicious as it is or with a little butter for a mid morning snack.

Enjoy x

I am sharing this recipe with:

Honest Mum - Tasty Tuesdays
A Mummy Too - Recipe of the Week
Casa Costello - Bake of the Week

Tasty Tuesdays on
Link up your recipe of the week
Casa Costello

Our Holiday Full of Firsts at Center Parcs

This summer we visited Center Parcs for the first time. Little did we know, this would not be the only first during the week.

During August we visited the Sherwood Forest resort. We had heard a lot about how lovely the resort was but seeing and experiencing the resort first hand even better than we could have imagined.

As soon as we arrived we relaxed. The calm and tranquil environment immediately puts you at ease. This was like no other holiday we have ever had.

This was the first holiday where I completely relaxed. I usually find it hard to truly unwind, having three children keeps us busy and on our toes. But on this holiday we even found that the children were calmer and they were all so content for the week. I found that the car free, forest environment had a huge role in the tranquillity that we all felt. We loved waking up and looking out onto the forest, having squirrels at the door, watching the ducks and swans waddle by and hearing nothing but the sounds of nature.

While we were there we hired bikes for the week and a trailer for the twins. It was the first time since childhood that I had ridden a bike. It was the twins first time riding in a trailer behind the bike. It was the first time that we had all been out on a bike ride together as a family. We all enjoyed the freedom that having the bikes gave us. We rode around for hours, not going anywhere in particular, just going wherever the path took us.

Before we arrived we knew that we would be taking the twins swimming for the first time. We knew that Isabella would like it as she is the more confident twin, however we were not sure what Taylor would make of it. We took it slow with him and after a while they both loved being in the water. This was the first time that we had taken them swimming together as a family. The pool area at Center Parcs was the perfect place to experience this first. The toddler area was an ideal place to start but they soon wanted to go in the "big" pool. We hope that this is the start of lots of swimming in the future. During our holiday my mother in law offered to look after the children one evening so that the hubby and I could go for an evening swim together. This was another first for us, we enjoyed it so much, having some time out, that we have decided that we are going to try and do it more often. Joseph is a keen, strong swimmer so he enjoyed having a bit of freedom and going on the slides by himself. This was the first holiday that I have felt at ease letting him go off on his own. However I did have fun going on the slides and rapids with him too!

The twins had so many firsts on this holiday. The first time seeing squirrels, the first time seeing swans at the back door, their first time swimming, their first bike ride, their first holiday that they really understood.

Leaving the comforting bubble that Center Parcs holds you in was hard. This was a first for me. Usually, by the end of a holiday, I am ready for home. But not this time. I had accustomed to the peaceful, stress and worry free environment. This time I was not ready to go home and I left with a heavy heart but knew that we would return.

We are due to return to Sherwood Forest in November as part of the Center Parcs Family Blogger Club to enjoy the festivities their Winter Wonderland will offer. But since returning from our perfect week away we have also booked to return to Sherwood Forest for a pre new year mini break and to also visit Whinfell Forest at Penrith for the first time next May half term and believe me we cannot wait!

We experienced so many firsts on our holiday but did you know that we are not alone!

During September 2014 Center Parcs have conducted a survey with OnePoll to see what the extent of family firsts were while on holiday. They asked 2000 families about their personal experiences and the survey revealed the following:

  • Bravery Steps - 42% of children are more confident to try new things while away on holiday
  • Baby Breakthroughs - 11% said their children started to crawl, 10% said that their child learnt to stand and 10% said that their child learnt to walk on holiday
  • Early Escapes - Parents took their first breaks when babies were just 4 months old
  • Brave Children - Children felt more confident to try an assortment of new activities such as building sandcastles 37%, swimming 29%, going down a water slide 19% and kicking a football 10%. Parents felt that this was down to interaction with other children 61%, quality time spent with the family 57% and being in a completely new environment 54%
  • Active Parenting - 67% of parents try their hand at new activities whilst on holiday as a family. Popular new activities include swimming for the first time 32%, going down a water slide 23% and even rock climbing 10% and zip wiring 10%
  • But 31% of parents said that they'll never let their child do an activity on their own and 21% of families have never tried anything new while on their break
What do you think of these statistics?

Are there any that surprise you?

What have been your holiday firsts?

Disclosure: I am part of the Center Parcs Family Blogger Club of 2013/14. The statistical information was provided to me by Center Parcs. No payment was received. All views and opinions are my own and 100% honest.