The Judas Scar – a book review

Thank you BritMums Book Club for another cracking read!  I’ve recently finished The Judas Scar by Amanda Jennings and I loved it.

The Judas Scar

The Judas Scar is the second novel by Amanda Jennings and was published in May this year.  I have to be honest, when I realised early on, that one of the main characters, Harmony, had had a miscarriage, I wondered if I could actually read the book.  Hidden emotions had resurfaced here recently with the Mumsnet campaign and one of the key-note speakers at BritMums Live.  I wasn’t sure if I was ready for more.  But actually, I was with Harmony from the start and her struggle to accept what she’d lost.

The story of The Judas Scar revolves around three central characters – Will, his wife Harmony and his once best friend from boarding school, Luke.  We follow them as lies and deceit bind them together and threaten to tear them all apart.

It’s one of those thrillers where you have no idea where it is leading, it grabs you and you find it difficult to put down.  I was intrigued to find out more about the complex history between Will and Luke and life at boarding school.  I was bullied at my last Secondary School – apparently I was too posh (so not true), my parents house was too big – if only! So I could relate to some of this part of the story too.

I love books that keep you guessing, where the tension mounts, where characters let you down and others surprise you.  The Judas Scar is one of those books that you don’t actually want to end, because you enjoy reading it so much.

If you’ve not read it – you should.  As always I’m not going to spoil the plot; issues are resolved, happiness can be found, the rest is up to you to discover for yourself.

disclaimer:  we were sent this book as part of the BritMums Book Club, my comments remain my own opinions.

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Schools Out with Voucher Codes #VCSchoolsOut

We were invited down to London a few weeks ago to learn more about Schools Out with Voucher Codes.

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Voucher Codes is the UK’s number one voucher site, offering discounts on all sorts of things from restaurant meals to family days out.  I’ve used them a lot over the years.

The Schools Out with Voucher Codes event gave us a chance to hear more about the results of their recent white paper on Children and Family Finances.  It makes quite interesting reading, Monkey is only 4 and half and I haven’t even considered the idea of pocket money with him.  He knows that because Mummy doesn’t go out to work, we can’t afford a proper holiday.  I try to talk openly with him about money now, and will continue to do so as he grows up.  He will have to learn that if he really wants something then he will have to save up for it in the future.  Pocket money when it does come, will be tied into helping me around the house!

I have to be honest and say I’ve not really found it a pressure to be able to afford things to do with Monkey over the school holidays; except for an actual holiday itself – which for us is a non-starter.  I always look for deals on days out and restaurants, we have lots of friends to visit and have play dates with and I can easily entertain my son at home.  I do understand that this pressure may change as Monkey starts school and becomes more aware of peer pressure and TV advertising!  We will cross that bridge next year.

We were also treated to a lovely afternoon of arts and craft activities.  Just to show that you can entertain children for less than £20.  We played with homemade play dough, had some great fun decorating Voucher Codes posters, playing with some construction toys, blowing bubbles and making a train out of a couple of cubes!  There was a great activity where you had a clear shower curtain and wipe board marker pens – let the kids go wild with their artistic side and then wipe it all clean at the end of the day!

Monkey really enjoyed himself and certainly went wild with the glue stick and feathers! For me it reinforced the idea that fun times don’t need to cost the earth.  Monkey is more than happy crafting, constructing, baking and having small world play fun.  We do go out and about a lot, but actually he’d almost certainly be just as happy at home having fun.

We’d actually spent the morning at the Natural History Museum, visiting the dinosaurs. A great, free activity for kids of all ages to enjoy – more on that in a post soon!

We had a fun-filled afternoon with Schools Out with Voucher Codes and came home with a lovely goodie bag from Boden – thank you very much, and lots of ideas to help keep Monkey amused this summer.  I’m sure we’ll be baking some Jam Thumbprint Biscuits and having Play Dough fun.  I already have it in my head to make a holiday scrapbook with Monkey, and we have some cress seeds that really do need planting.  In this house a bug hunt is never too far away, and actually we have some Baker Ross plastic bugs that might just come in handy for this too.

What ideas do you have for cheap activities to keep the kids amused this summer?

disclaimer:  our travel was compensated for this event and we received a goodie bag as already mentioned.  My thoughts and opinions still remain my own.

 

 

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CBeebies Magazine Kids go Free Campaign #CBeebiesMagKidsGoFree

I can’t quite believe that the sun is still shining, and we are in the second week of the summer holidays!  Long may it last, please, please  for next week when Daddy P is taking some time off!  Anyway, this Saturday Monkey and I will be visiting CBeebies Land at Alton Towers to find out more about a fab new offer for families.  CBeebies Magazine launches Kids go Free Campaign was launched on 16th July.

CBeebies Magazine launches Kids go Free Campaign

Pick up a copy of the CBeebies magazine from now until 7th October and you will find two vouchers inside for kids to go free to a different attraction every issue.  The offer includes Merlin Entertainment attractions like Legoland, Chessington World of Adventure and Sealife.

We’ve had great days out at Legoland Windsor and Sealife London and Birmingham and can thoroughly recommend them all.  Anything that saves us all money on a family day out has to be a good thing doesn’t it.

The CBeebies magazine is priced at £3.00 and Monkey loves it, it is always full of lots of fun things to do.  Now it can save me money too.

CBeebies Magazine Kids go Free Campaign

The full list of attractions and dates included in this fantastic offer are:

  • Issue 410 (30th July) – Chessington World of Adventures – Save £68 (£34 per ticket)
  • Issue 411 (13th Aug) – Alton Towers Resort inc. CBeebies Land – Save £86.40 (£43.20 per ticket)
  • Issue 412 (27th Aug) – Warwick Castle – Save £39.60 (£19.80 per ticket)
  • Issue 413 (10th Sept) – Legoland and Legoland Discovery Centre – Save £82.80 (£41.40 per ticket)
  • Issue 414 (24th Sept) – Sealife Centres and Seal sanctuaries – Save £39 (£19.50 per ticket)

Where will you go with the CBeebies Magazine Kids go Free Campaign?  I quite fancy a trip to Warwick Castle myself as we’ve not been since Monkey was 9 months old.

disclaimer:  we are being given free access to CBeebies Land on 02.08.14 to highlight this campaign.

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One World Futbol

Growing up with a Linesman/Referee as a Dad and a brother who was always playing football, I remember football’s continually being pumped up.  The call from Mum ‘keep it away from the rose bushes!’  Obviously she wanted to protect the flowers but also to protect the ball from the thorns.  How handy would it have been to have a ‘virtually indestructible football’? Well kids these days can have just that, with the One World Futbol.

One World Futbul

The One World Futbol Project has designed a football which will never deflate or pop. No need to invest in a pump – yippee! It’s been specifically designed to withstand rough terrains so that children around the world can enjoy the game without destroying their football.

One World Futbol

One World Futbol Project was inspired whilst Tim Jahnigen was watching news footage about traumatised refugee children in Darfur playing football on dirt, using a ball made by from twine. Tim realised there was a global need for a nearly indestructible ball that could withstand the harsh conditions often faced by young people living in refugee camps, disaster areas and other disadvantaged communities.

There are two sizes available of the One World Futbol, size 4 is the junior size, we received the adult size 5 ball.  Monkey was very excited as he only has a little Thomas football, he was looking forward to a good kick around with his new grown up football.

Our garden is tiny, and really not ideal for playing football, so we packed it up ready for our trip down to Sussex last week.  I knew Tina at The Soup Dragon Says, has a much bigger garden than us, and also we were planning a trip to the beach.  The One World Futbol was going to be put to the test.

One World Futbol

The One World Futbol size 5 football is surprising light at 426g and is made of special cross linked closed cell foam.  Monkey loves it and, even though he;s only 4 and half he copes well with the adult sized ball.

Even a brush with the holly tree didn’t hurt the One World Futbol.  When we recovered the ball from the bush, it had a host of holly leaves stuck in it.  If we’d had a normal football we could have been in big trouble.  But our One World Futbol was fine and ready for more football action.  We’ve been really impressed and I’m sure this football will be seeing plenty of action in the years to come.

The One World Futbol is priced at £33.00, which when you consider how well it’s going to last, is a bargain. It’s also worth noting that for every purchase in the UK a ball will be donated by One World Futbol Project to disadvantaged areas around the world, so children everywhere can enjoy this global game.  You can buy these balls direct from the One World Futbol Project website.

disclaimer:  we were sent this product in exchange for an honest review

 

 

 

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The B&W Photography Project Week 3 #bwphotoproject

My The B&W Photography Project Week 3 with PODCast takes us back to last October – to Halloween.

The B&W Photography Project Week 3I bet a shot with the candle burning would actually be far more effective.  Something to try out latest in the year!

 

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Silent Sunday My Sunday Photo 270714

Silent Sunday My Sunday Photo 270714

OneDad3Girls
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Project 365 Week 30

Joining in with TheBoyAndMe and her linky 365 Project  A Photo A Day, Every Day, For A Year!  Project 365 – Week 30 Days 201-207.

Sunday 20th July – Day 201

Project 365 Week 30

After a busy week we were all in need of a quiet day.  Monkey loves his new Aquabeads set and enjoyed making some new suncatchers.  We’d been for a disastrous meal at our local Brewers Fayre recently; I’d complained and we’d been given a £40 voucher to spend.  So as it was rather hot, I decided we’d eat there for dinner.  The service was considerably better and the Sticky Toffee Pudding was rather nice!

Monday 21st July – Day 202

Project 365 Week 30

After school we needed to make some goodbye cards for Monkey’s teacher and key workers.  Monkey was making hand print cards, when he’d finished it was time to make some hand print pictures for home.  He loved it.  We then made cakes for the end of term party.  I was so impressed with him.  He was so exact with his sprinkles, no more manic coverings.  We obviously had to conduct a taste test just to make sure they were ok.

Tuesday 22nd July – Day 203

Project 365 Week 30

End of an era as Monkey left Nursery School today.  He had an end of term party and apparently a digger top is the correct party wear these days.  He was rather happy with his bundle of goodies when he came home.  It did make me laugh when he found a packet of Haribo’s and put them straight in the bin – trained him well!

Wednesday 23rd July – Day 204

Project 365 Week 30

We’ve got a really busy few days away coming up so I made sure we had a day at home today.  Time for Monkey to chill after a busy term, time for me to enjoy his company. We had a Teddy Bear’s Picnic in the garden, played Pumpaloons and generally enjoyed the sunshine.

Thursday 24th July – Day 205

Project 365 Week 30

We drove down to Sussex and went to an event at Butlins with Tina from The Soup Dragon Says and her son.  We were having a sleepover at her house, after dinner we spent an hour on the beach – Monkey loved it.

Friday 25th July – Day 206

Project 365 Week 30

We spent the day with Tina and her son enjoying the wonderful Jousting at Arundel Castle.  It really was fabulous.  Even getting caught in a thunderstorm in the afternoon didn’t dampen our spirits, even if we were drenched.  We headed home, my Sat Nav sent us on a magical mystery tour, so I stopped at the services for dinner as we were going to be home so late.  Went back to the car and it wouldn’t start – aargh.  Called the AA out and an hour later it was decided my starter motor is knackered.  Managed to get home at 9.00pm – so straight to bed for a worn out Monkey and no swimming lesson for me.

Saturday 26th July – Day 207

Project 365 Week 30

After a long lie in this morning Monkey tried out his new Dobble Kids game.  We’ve had some excitement here today!  We’ve had a photographer and make up artist from the Daily Mail visit us for a photo shoot for a feature on Sorgenfresser Worry Eaters. Monkey did really well considering earlier this morning he told me he would not have his photo taken at all.

TheBoyandMe's 365 Linky

 

 

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Charlecote Park with friends #CountryKids

Someone asked a question recently - what has blogging given you?  The confidence to believe in myself again, new skills, wonderful opportunities for us as a family.  But actually the best thing it’s given me is friends, some still in the virtual world, but some I’ve met, and had lots of laughs with.  Sometimes you know, just by reading someone’s work that you will be friends; that’s certainly true of Iona at Redpeffer.  When I read her posts, I can identify with so much of what she says, our boys are also very similar.  We finally got to meet at Blogcamp earlier this year.  We chatted away from the off as if we’d known each other for ever.  We agreed that it would be lovely to meet up with the kids. We put a pin in the map and set a date.  So recently Monkey and I went to Charlecote Park with friends.

Obviously, the weather leading up to our get together had been glorious, and the day we went to Charlecote Park with friends – it rained.  It didn’t stop us all having a lovely time though.

For me it was a trip down memory lane.  The last time I visited Charlecote Park had been pretty near to 5 years to the day; I’d been pregnant with Monkey and visited with a friend.  It had been wonderfully sunny that day!

But here we were, visiting Charlecote Park with friends, new friends.  Would Monkey get along with Iona’s children?  Would he behave? I shouldn’t have worried, apart from some differences of opinion on who should lead us around the grounds the kids got on fine.  It was lovely to chat with Iona and her husband and Monkey enjoyed himself – relax.

We started the day with a drink and some cake – I know the way to my Monkey’s heart!

Charlecote Park with friends

We’d arrived just before Iona and her family, which worked well.  Monkey had got used to the environment and was settled when they arrived.  We were off to a good start.

Then it was time for some croquet.  I used to love playing croquet at home in our back garden, but haven’t played for years.  It was good fun, although I was slightly concerned Monkey might do someone some harm with the mallets!

Charlecote Park with friends

Then it was time to wander around the grounds and for the children to explore.

Charlecote Park with friends Charlecote Park with friendsOf course by the time the kids were getting hungry it was raining really rather hard. Bang went the idea of a picnic in the grounds.  We found a sheltered staircase, the kids planted themselves on the stairs and away we went.  It was all part of the day at Charlecote Park with friends; making the best of things.  The kids weren’t bothered at all.

When the rain stopped it was time to explore again.  As luck would have it, I swear it was a coincidence, there was a Riley car rally happening that day.  It would have been rude not to admire the beautiful old cars.

Charlecote Park with friends Charlecote Park with friends

We all agreed that it would be nice to have a look around the house itself.  All accepting that with children, this would be a whistle stop tour, but Monkey and I learnt something new.  The house has soft toy deer in every room – something for the children to spot. Iona’s daughter is a pro at deer spotting!

Charlecote Park with friends

I managed to get in a quick stained glass window fix before we ventured back into the gardens.

Charlecote Park with friends Charlecote Park with friends

The boys decided that they needed a break, which obviously involved an ice cream pit stop.

Charlecote Park with friends

They needed the energy to go butterfly spotting and deer hunting after all!  Iona’s daughter was upset that she couldn’t catch a butterfly in her hands.  I tried to explain that actually Guru Gramps would say that was the wrong thing to do; it might harm them.  I showed her how much easier it could be to go beetle hunting instead.

The gardens are lovely at Charlecote Park and we timed our visit just right to catch sight of the deer from the deer park.  You can get quite close to them and the children loved it.

Charlecote Park with friends Charlecote Park with friends Charlecote Park with friends Charlecote Park with friendsWe’d had a lovely day at Charlecote Park with friends and just got back to our cars when the heavens opened again.  We’ll definitely be going back.  As for our friendship, we’re meeting up again soon :)

You can read about our visit from Iona’s point of view here.Country Kids from Coombe Mill Family Farm Holidays Cornwall

 

 

 

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Sunflowers

I’m off to Arundel Castle today with The Soup Dragon Says and our boys, after a sleepover at their house.  So today is a photo post of our sunflowers – just a little blast of colour for you all :)

Sunflowers Sunflowers Sunflowers Sunflowers

Have a lovely weekend :)

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Aquabeads Jewel Starter set – a review

Aquabeads Jewel Starter set

Monkey has really embraced crafting over the last year; and certainly over the last 6 months I’ve seen a real difference in his approach.  He will sit and patiently work at something rather than the frenzied chaos of the past.  I’m not a great one for mess, so when I heard of a craft activity that was basically mess free, I was there like a shot!  Let me introduce you to the Aquabeads Jewel Starter set.

Aquabeads Jewel Starter set

Ok, so what’s your first impression?  Mine was, uum it’s very pink and very girl orientated.  Monkey reacted in exactly the same way – Mummy it’s for girls!  No, wait Monkey, trust me, this is for boys too.

I have to say, and comments on my Instagram feed back this up – Aquabeads – you are missing a trick. Boys will love this too.  I’m really quite curious as to why this great product, has been targeted to totally exclude boys?

Anyway, I will prove to you all out there that the Aquabeads Jewel Starter set (and therefore the range in general) can be enjoyed by both girls and boys.  It is aimed at children aged 4 years and over.

The set comprises over 800 jewel beads in various colours, a bead case (please provide a lid to make storage easier – I’m using cling film!), a layout tray, base tray, 5 template sheets, water sprayer, bead pen and instructions.

Aquabeads Jewel Starter set

Basically, you pick a template, put it in the base tray and place the layout tray over the top.  You then use the bead pen to pick beads up and place them in the relevant position. Once all the beads are in place, spray with water with the sprayer (from a distance of 10cms) and then leave to ‘set’ for an hour.  After the hour, I found the best thing to do to ensure all beads were bonded properly, was to turn the aquabeads over, spray again and leave for half and hour.  Then Monkey’s creations were ready to be admired.

Monkey has loved the Aquabeads Jewel Starter set, he quickly forgot all about the packaging, and realised what good fun he could have.  He did struggle a bit with the bead pen and ended up using his fingers (yes he still needs to work on his fine motor skills!). It seemed to me that as long as you didn’t have wet fingers then it’s fine.  Wet fingers and the beads will start sticking together.

As Monkey was making the dragonfly and tree we started talking about what he would like to make with the Aquabeads.  You really don’t have to stick to the templates.  Of course the first thing Monkey wanted to make was a tractor.  He started off making a red tractor and then realised he could make a John Deere one instead!  He was off!

Aquabeads Jewel Starter Set Aquabeads Jewel Starter Set Aquabeads Jewel Starter Set Aquabeads Jewel Starter Set Aquabeads Jewel Starter Set Aquabeads Jewel Starter Set Aquabeads Jewel Starter Set Aquabeads Jewel Starter Set

What can we do with my John Deere tractor Mummy?  You may remember we recently made some paper stained glass effect butterfly sun catchers; well that’s what we’ve done with Monkey’s Aquabeads Jewel Starter set creations too.

What else can we make Mummy?  Why not make a steam train Monkey?  I actual think that Aquabeads are an ideal craft activity for boys.  It doesn’t take long to create a little masterpiece and while it’s drying they can be off doing other things.  I don’t know about your children, but Monkey has a smaller concentration span for arts and crafts than his girl friends, who seem happy to sit for hours doing the same thing.  Make something, make something else later – perfect for Monkey.

Aquabeads Jewel Starter Set Aquabeads Jewel Starter Set

I threaded the tractor for him, and we used sticky tack to put the other creations on his bedroom window.

Aquabeads Jewel Starter SetThis Aquabeads Jewel Starter set is available from Amazon for £10.99, you can click through my affiliate link below to buy if you’d like.  There are lots of other sets available and I can thoroughly recommend.  I know a whole host of children, boys and girls who’d love this product.  As for us Mums, craft plus no mess equals heaven!

You can keep up to date with all the latest Aquabeads fun on Facebook and Twitter.  We both love this product, I really can recommend it.

Now Aquabeads people, the photos of Monkey speak for themselves, he has loved this activity and I’m sure we’ll be making more items over the holidays.  Please could we have a set more with boys in mind – vehicles alone would give a whole host of activities, dinosaurs, and so on.  I really do think an opportunity is being missed?  What do you think?

disclaimer:  we were sent this item for the purpose of review

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