Yorkshire’s The Place For A Post-Lockdown Family Trip

This is a collaborative post.

To say that these are strange times is an understatement - provided you and yours are healthy, hopefully, your immediate challenges are mostly concerned with keeping your family from crawling up the walls while you’re all enduring lockdown together. After all, there are only so many banana breads you can bake, Netflix series you can binge, and Xbox One games you can blast through.

So in order to restore a harmonious household, how about spending a few hours discussing where you’ll travel to for your first post-lockdown family trip? To help you set the ball rolling, we’ve trawled the web to gather together a bucketload of reasons why a Yorkshire weekend would get our vote – feel free to borrow them for inspiration!

If you’re a family full of history buffs, York is an absolutely brilliant day out. For starters, grab a ticket for York Dungeon and get up close and personal with the walled city’s gruesome past. It includes 11 live actor shows covering 2000 years of history, with no blood-curdling event omitted, thrilling special effects, and storytelling featuring a cast of real-life characters like the explosive rebel Guy Fawkes and dangerous dandy Dick Turpin. For an even more immersive experience set around a fascinating era in York’s history, you might prefer the Jorvik Viking Centre – step back into the mists of time and learn all about these fearsome warriors amidst all the sights, sounds and even smells of an authentic Viking village.

Halifax might not be the first place you think of for a Great British family day out, but it should be – if you head to Eureka! The National Children’s Museum, you’ll see why. This amazing pleasure dome is completely dedicated to kids’ entertainment and education and boasts over 400 interactive exhibits suitable for children aged 0-11, with six unique zones for youngsters to have the time of their life. By the time your kids are finished, they’ll have stepped inside a giant nose, surveyed a pregnant mum’s tummy, played digital games, enjoyed arts and crafts, patted a coyote, and learned about the world of work in a mini-town square. So be warned – they’ll either be fast asleep during the car ride home or full of endless questions on anything and everything!

There are loads to do in Leeds too, so if you want to head here first on your Yorkshire tour, it’s a terrific idea. St Aidan’s Nature Park is a stunning 400-hectare outdoor space with lakes, woodland, and Oddball – a huge coal excavator that’s basically a huge digger. Animal lovers will feel at home here too because you’ll spot everything from waxwings to roe deer. It’s convenient to travel here by train from most parts of Britain, and if you want to see the rolling hills of the nearby Yorkshire Dales, organising Leeds car hire from Enjoy Travel lets you set off in comfort for a few hours under your own steam.

So that’s our list of awesome Yorkshire attractions – we hope this ravishing region makes the cut when your family lockdown debate is in full swing!

Organix Goodies Mini Space Cheese Bites - Review & Giveaway

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Organix have graced our food cupboard for years now, ever since I started to wean Noah back when he was 6 months old. Since then I've worked with Organix numerous times, as well as being a loyal customer too. The Organix logo is something that both Noah and Ava look-out for when we are shopping, it’s like a little seal of approval for them. In fact, every time they spot it, it usually ends up in the trolley! (We actually went shopping in Aldi this weekend and spotted their mini Oaty bites and bought a few bags!)

Organix keeps their snacks exciting by continually adding new products to their range and the children always look forward to trying them out. We recently reviewed the new Organix Jammie Monsters which you can read about here. They quickly became a favourite, for both Noah and Ava and we've bought more since our last review.

Organix Goodies Mini Space Cheese Bites are the latest product from their range which is suitable for children from 18 months old. They are pieces of cheddar cheese which have been dried and sprinkled with a little bit of potato starch (so they don’t stick together in the pack) and that’s literally it! They are suitable for vegetarians, are junk free, gluten free, organic and are a healthier alternative to other snacks on the market. Similar to the Organix Jammie Monsters they are sold in a box and contain individual portions which make them great for snacking on at home or on the go.

The concept behind the Mini Space Cheese Bites is brilliant! The packs look colourful, engaging and inviting. The dried cheese inside the pack looks just like little pieces of the moon which have certainly made snack time a lot more interesting! The snacks have filled Ava’s tummy whilst fuelling her imagination at the same time. She now has a new found interest in stars and the moon. I’m going to run with it and dig out some of Noah’s books about the solar system because we might have a little astronaut in our midst!

Looking a little different to regular dried savory snacks Ava needed a little encouragement to try them at first but once she did there was no going back. She seems to really enjoy not only the taste but the crunchy texture too. I also tried them and have to say they are delicious! I could happily sit there and eat the lot but I wouldn’t do that to Ava! I just hope she intends to share!

Organix Goodies Mini Space Cheese Bites are sold in a box containing four individual bags. They are suitable for children from 18 months of age, retail at £2.49 and are available to buy at Boots, Ocado, Sainsbury’s and more. 
How would you like to win 2 boxes of Organix Goodies Mini Space Cheese Bites? To enter simply use the Gleam form below. Good luck and don't forget to enter my other competitions!
Two boxes of Organix Goodies Mini Space Cheese Bites

Terms & Conditions.         
1. There will be 1 winner who will win the prize mentioned above.
2. Prize sent via the PR. 
3. Competition ends 31/05/19.
4. Incomplete entries with be disqualified.
5. UK entries only.

5 Lockdown DIY Tips For Your Home

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If you’re working from home during lockdown, are you struggling to keep yourself occupied with positive activities now you seem to have more spare time on your hands? Perhaps the novelty of sinking into the sofa while you indulge in an ice cream and Netflix binge has subsided, and you’re tired of following your bodyweight exercise regime to burn off the extra calories? So since you want to be active and might have noticed a few areas that need sprucing up in your abode, how about attempting some home improvement?

To help get you started, we’ve gathered together five suggestions for all levels of enthusiasts – from those who don’t mind having a go at minor tasks to people who feel perfectly at home with a hammer and spirit level in their hands.

1. Clean your dishwasher
No – we’re not talking about showering your husband here! Cleaning your dishwasher might not be the most glam job, but if it becomes blocked and floods the kitchen, you’ll pay a pretty penny for an emergency plumber. Watch this Pan The Organiser dishwasher cleaning guide to learn how to maintain it properly with simple vinegar and baking soda.

2. Remove mold and mildew
Mould and mildew can build up even in the cleanest kitchens and bathrooms, but if you’re eco-conscious, you might not want to use harsh chemical cleaning products to deal with it. But it’s actually easy to make your own mold remover with natural products – mix one part vinegar with one part water in a spray bottle and add essential oils for a wonderful fresh smell.

3. Buy a torch
One essential household item right now is a reliable torch – if you get a power cut in the middle of a pandemic, you might need to find your mains in the dark and prevent accidents while you wait for assistance. Even outwith emergencies, a specialist light like a head torch can be really handy for fiddly DIY jobs, so take a look at a portable light specialist like Torch Direct and order a few useful items.

4. Reseal your bathtub
A dodgy seal around your bathtub can compromise the structural integrity of the bath, cause mold, and also damp on the floor beneath. No one needs that right now, but you can fix it yourself with a cartridge gun, some sealant and sealant remover. Clean the area thoroughly after removing remnants of the old sealant and fill up the bath before you apply the new seal – this recreates the usual weight so that it won’t crack when used later.

5. Replace your doors
Okay – this is a slightly more ambitious project than the others we’ve mentioned. But replacing even just one of your internal doors can really improve the positive energy flow in your home and if you choose a design with glass panels it can add an airy ambiance. Designs from Oakwood Doors include contemporary and classic styles and they’re still delivering, plus you can find reliable how-to videos from DIY specialists on YouTube.

That’s our list! Share your own lockdown DIY tips in the comments section.

Graduation Invites From Basic Invite

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Graduation is a pivotal milestone in every school, college, and university student's life. It's the finishing line after years and years of hard work and study and a moment that is so special to you that you have got to share it with your nearest and dearest; your family and friends. The lead up to the big day is just as exciting as the event, choosing what to wear, what makeup to wear, how to style your hair, what shoes will look best, who will turn up, how will you feel on the day? and so on.

One way to build excitement for the big day and to mark the occasion is to make the news public with announcement cards, just like these high school grad announcements. As a parent, I would be so excited to send or receive these in the mail with my children's photograph on the front. Ordering personalized thank you cards would make great keepsakes too.

Basic Invite is my go-to and is a cut above the rest. They are one of the few websites that have infinite color combinations, with instant previews. Customers can change the color of every element on the card, with over 180 different shades. They are fully customizable, precisely how you want it, down to the smallest detail. This is really impressive and something I've not seen offered elsewhere. They 
offer customers the option to order a printed sample of their invitation so they can see it in physical form before they place their full order. This is great for checking the paper quality and making sure the colors look just right - amazing!

What about envelopes I hear you ask? With over 40 different colored envelopes they have you covered! Choose a color that matches the font, color block, or maybe use a really stand out color. Their envelopes are peel and seal so that the envelopes can be closed quickly and easily.

You can also use their free address collection service to request your addresses with just three simple steps. Share a link via social media or email, collect addresses, and get free envelope printing.

Learning Resources Super Sorting Pie - Review & Giveaway

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One of my favourite parts of being a blogger is having the opportunity to work with brands that we love, respect and are proud to promote. Learning Resources are just that. We've been fans for years now and can always count on their toys to be educational, exciting, engaging and entertaining too. They always go down a storm with the kids.

A few weeks ago Learning Resources got in touch to ask if we would like to review something from their website. I picked out a couple of products which I thought the kids would enjoy and they kindly sent us two of them; The Peg Friends Stacking Farm and the Super Sorting Pie. I've decided to write the reviews on separate posts as I'll also be giving away one of each toy. Today's review and giveaway are dedicated to the Super Sorting Pie.

Presented in a sturdy cardboard box, perfect for storing it in, the Super Sorting Pie looked very exciting and really caught both Noah and Ava's attention. They couldn't wait to open it and explore what was inside. Included in the box are the plastic pie base, pie lid, removable divider, game booklet, three double-sided sorting cards, two jumbo tweezers, and 60 fruit shaped counters.

The Super Sorting Pie is suitable for children from 3 years of age (Ava is 2 but is allowed to play with it under my supervision - she always wants to play with what Noah has) and is designed to encourage and develop early numeracy skills. It's also great for building fine motor skills, hand-eye coordination, and sorting skills.

The kids, of course, wanted to play with it right away so I set up the colour sorting activity first because I knew it was one that they could enjoy together. To do this I simply placed the sorting card on the colour sorting side, inserted it into the base of the pie and placed all the fruit counters into the lid. With 60 fruits (7 fruits in 5 different colours) Noah and Ava had lots to keep them both busy.

Noah recognised the jumbo tweezers from school and was pleased to have some of his own, to use at home. Ava seemed to figure out how to use them pretty quickly and was colour sorting in no time. The jumbo tweezers are great for building the muscles in children's fingers to help with their pincer grip, which is actually something Noah's teacher told me a few months ago.

There are many different ways children can play and learn with the Super Sorting Pie. There are other games to play; sorting into colours, sorting into fruits, sorting into numbers and so on. It's ideal for teaching younger children about different colours and fruits. The kids have both enjoyed choosing what they want to play next and often role play with it too.

The Super Sorting Pie is such a fantastic toy, one which I know the kids will enjoy for years to come. Again, it's suitable for children from three years of age and retails at £23.00. More can be read over on the Learning Resources website.

For your chance to win one please head over to my Instagram page for more details and the terms and conditions. Don't fret if you don't have Instagram though as I'll be setting up another competition with Learning Resources on the blog in a week or so. Good luck and don't forget to enter my other competitions.

Living Arrows #20 - Happy Easter

We had a lovely Easter break this year. Noah had two weeks off school and the weather was glorious. We pretty much spent every moment outdoors, enjoying the weather and we had lots of days out too. I took these pictures one afternoon before one of our many egg hunts. I lost count of how many times I had to rehide those eggs! The kids had so much fun! Did you have a nice Easter? 

Living Arrows

The Ultimate Guide To Your Lockdown Staycation

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As lockdown rules ease in the UK, it’s tempting to take advantage and treat yourself to a holiday. There’s one problem - hotels aren’t open. A staycation, your number one backup plan, is pretty challenging when you have to return home at the end of the day. A traditional staycation still isn’t on the cards right now, but that doesn’t mean you can’t get creative. With a little bit of ingenuity, you can experience a getaway that you’ll never forget. Isn’t that more appealing than a spot of DIY or a deep clean? Here are the tips that will help.

Camp Out
The great thing about camping is that the experience is similar regardless of the location. You could be in the wilds of Scotland battling the elements, or you could be at home in your garden. Regardless, you get to sleep under the stars in close quarters while cooking food on a stove or BBQ and omitting electronics from your life for a while. Not only is it an excellent way to break up the monotony of lockdown life, but camping out will keep the kids entertained. Children love nothing more than being at one with the Great Outdoors.
Start Early
Britain is a big place, and there are tons of things you can do as long as you roll out of bed early enough in the morning. You may prefer to drive to a town or city that’s nearby and enjoy walking around the streets at a leisurely pace. Alternatively, a Wales end to end bike ride will allow you to take in the beautiful landscapes of a national treasure while exercising hard. Whatever you decide to do, it’s wise to start as early as possible so that you maximise your day and have more than an hour or two.
Have A Picnic
With shops shut until the 15th of June, there’s not much you can do even if you plan a day out. If you’re reading this after the 15th, you’ve probably realised that it’s not the same anyway. Therefore, you need an event to keep you entertained during your staycation, and a picnic is an obvious choice. With a blanket and an array of food, you can go anywhere in the UK and soak up the sun (hopefully). This might be on a beach or in a park. The decision is yours, people!
Book A Hotel
Hotels won’t open until July. However, that’s not far away, not when you’ve spent the past three months on house arrest! The accommodation makes it feel more like a holiday because your surroundings are different, and they should be relatively cheap for the time being. Also, don’t underestimate the power of anticipation. After a challenging period of self-isolation, booking a hotel room for a couple of days will seem like the most luxurious break you’ve ever experienced. 

Hopefully, that’ll be enough to motivate you to stick to your daily grind until society goes back to normal. How will you take a staycation when the time is right?

3 Daydream Hols For Heathrow Travellers

The current global health climate means that few of us are venturing far from our doorsteps, never mind across borders or to the other side of the planet. And while you’ve probably had to pause this year’s holiday plans, deciding where you want to go next year for a double-whammy celebration might prove motivational while you’re working from home and attempting to preserve some semblance of family harmony.

So if you’ve already exhausted your Netflix options, read your half-finished books and eye-spy isn’t cutting it, perhaps you can chat about your fantasy holiday for next year and vote for the most popular option? To help you get started, here are three daydream holidays for Heathrow travelers.

1. Dublin
Just think how good your first post-lockdown pint of the black stuff will taste if it’s poured perfectly in a Dublin pub-like J. W. Sweetman – delicious! Add in the craic you find everywhere from cafes to corner shops and the Irish capital might just be the perfect place to unwind and relax. When you get bored of the bars there are plenty of other distractions too, like St Patrick’s Cathedral, Leo Burdocks fish n chips, Trinity College Library and Grafton Street’s shops.

2. Amsterdam
Laid-back Amsterdam is an awesome place to visit under normal circumstances, so we can confidently predict that you’ll get a warm welcome thereafter the world has emerged from crisis mode. Its unique cafes and bars are always worth spending some time socialising in, but it’s also lovely just walking across its bridges and waterways. The ‘Dam is great for art lovers too – the Van Gogh Museum is a real eye-opener to the amazing mind of this troubled genius and showcases major works like the iconic Sunflowers.

3. Los Angeles
The City of Angels is one of America’s coolest destinations but it’s one that’s often overlooked by tourists and sometimes underrated in comparison to cities like New York or Miami. However, Los Angeles has much to recommend it – from vibrant Venice Beach culture that includes galleries, street art, tattoos, theatre, and live music, to the high-end shopping emporiums of Rodeo Drive, where Julia Roberts famously shopped til she dropped in the movie Pretty Woman. Meanwhile, nearby Anaheim is home to Disneyland, the original theme park incarnation of Walt Disney’s flights of fancy. Attractions include Main Street USA, Frontierland, and New Orleans Square and more wild rides and cartoon characters than you can shake a stick at.

Final thoughts
By the time travel restrictions are lifted and you can make your dream holiday a reality, prices for anything travel-related might rise because of increased demand. Therefore you’ll be wise to book cheap Heathrow airport parking from SkyParkSecure.com and reasonable flights from Kayak.co.uk. If you’re a seasoned traveller, there’s no doubt that you’ll probably be struggling while cooped up at home. But by debating and discussing next year’s trip, you’ve got a goal that can help you grit your teeth through the tough times in between.

So ends our list, but share your daydream Heathrow holidays in the comments section

Belle Vue Sizzling Pub & Grill - Blackpool

Last weekend we were invited to dine at The Belle Vue Pub & Grill over in Blackpool, Lancashire. We arrived about 30 minutes early of our booking time of 5.30pm but were courteously taken to our reserved table without a problem. The staff member immediately noticed we had a young child with us and didn’t hesitate to provide us with a high chair, some crayons and colouring paper, which was greatly appreciated. The manager introduced himself to us and let us know that if we needed anything just ask our waiter and he will sort if for us. This was our first time visiting Belle Vue but noticed it had been renovated recently, everything looked fantastic and clean. We spent quite some time looking through the menu as there was a really great variety of meals, it was very difficult trying to decide what to have. We noticed the prices seemed really fair for both drinks and food, which is great when dining as a family. We finally settled on a chicken fajita sizzling skillet, a tandoori chicken burger and 2 kids chicken nugget meals with chips and corn on the cob. One thing to note with the kid's meals is that they offer two different portion sizes, one for under 5’s and one for over 5’s. We didn’t have to wait long at all for our food to come which was surprising as it was quite busy and we were relieved as we were ready for some good food after spending the day at Blackpool Pleasure Beach. When the food arrived the first thing we commented on was the generous portion size, great value for money! The fajita skillet was sizzling away and looked so appetising. It included succulent pieces of chicken breast on a bed of grilled peppers and onions accompanied by 4 small flour tortilla wraps, sour cream, salsa, jalapenos, and cheddar cheese. I’ve had fajitas at Mexican restaurants which cost considerably more than at the Belle Vue and I can honestly that this was easily on par, if not better. It was full of flavour, the chicken was juicy and tender, the tortillas were soft and warm and the whole thing came together to create a mouth-watering, very satisfying meal. My partner opted for the Tandoori Chicken Burger meal which consists of chicken tandoori marinated chicken fillets, topped with onion bhajis and minted sour cream with a portion of curly fries on the side. When it arrived, it was literally a tower of a burger, he was so impressed. It was well seasoned, tender and held together well considering the amount of food sandwiched between the bun. The bhajis were crisp on the outside and soft in the middle. He said that it tasted fantastic and he would definitely order it again. Noah and Ava were more than happy with their chicken nugget meal, both of them diving straight into the corn on the cob. Included in the kid’s meal was a dessert of their choice. They both love ice cream, so we went for the “Build your own Sundae" which consists of 2 scoops of vanilla ice cream with little pots of Cadbury’s buttons, Aero chocolate, fresh strawberries, and chocolate sauce. I think this is such a great idea for children as it encourages them to get involved in creating their own dessert and they really enjoyed doing it though they both had a different approach. Noah put ALL of the toppings on straight away and dived in. Ava, on the other hand, added her strawberries and chocolate sauce but ate the buttons separately. However, they were similar in the fact that they both cleared the lot. The dessert menu was impressive and featured classic cakes, pudding, ice cream and more. We could not resist ordering our own and decided to go for the Chocolate Fudge Cake and a Belgian Chocolate Brownie. Both were served with ice cream and the brownie is served warm. We tried one another's dessert and both agreed that the brownie was superior. Our experience at the Belle Vue was nothing but positive. We could not fault the quality of the food in any way and really felt that you get great value for money too. The staff are attentive, polite and helpful, ensuring your time here is as relaxing and comfortable as possible. As frequent visitors to Blackpool, there is no doubt that we will definitely be visiting again. Head to their website to view the Sizzling Pub & Grill menu or to find your local grill. Disclaimer: We received this meal free of charge for the purpose of this review, however, all opinions are my own.

How To Make Your Home More Tech-Savvy

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Are you looking to make your home more hi-tech? Many people are following the smart home trend due to the number of benefits that come with enhancing your home. This includes having a much more efficient household, and some forms of technology can actually help you reduce your outgoings.  

There are plenty of different ways you can update your home with technology but to start off, you should consider the following choices to make your living space more hi-tech.  

Hi-tech lighting fixtures 
Do you find that your electricity bills are significantly high? This is most probably due to leaving lights on accidentally, which is one of the main causes of expensive outgoings. To prevent this, you should consider investing in smart lighting such as censored lights which automatically turn off when no detection is established. This type of lighting is extremely cost-effective and efficient, which is why property investment companies like RW Invest back luxury developments with these hi-tech features.   

If you want to start small, you could simply replace your ordinary light bulbs with smart ones. These are wireless and are be operated via Wi-Fi or Bluetooth. This works to reduce your electricity usage which is great for your bank account and your carbon footprint.   
Smart heating devices  
Another massive household expense is usually the energy bills, which can be reduced significantly with the aid of technology, such as smart meters which allow you to monitor your energy usage via your phone or wireless device. This will automatically make you conscious of your usage habits, which can result in a massive decrease in your energy bills.  

If you find yourself forgetting to turn off your radiators, you can actually purchase Wi-Fi-controlled radiators which allow you to turn them off via your phone even when you’re away from home. This works by utilising geofencing technology which sends signals to your heating fixtures, which is great for turning them off and on if you want to warm up the house after a holiday.  
Update your security measures  
You may have an alarm system which you think you can trust; however, ordinary systems do not offer nearly as much protection as smart security devices do. If you feel like you need extra security that can be trusted, you should consider purchasing a smart security camera, which will monitor your entire property and you can check on it via your smartphone when you’re on holiday or just out for the day.  

Another great invention is the hi-tech doorbell, with most of them operated via Wi-Fi you can monitor who is visiting your home. They also feature high-quality monitoring systems so as soon as movement is detected, an alert will be sent to your phone, and you will be able to see who is at your door. This is ideal for working families who are always out of the house, especially if they are expecting a delivery, as this reassures them that their package is safe.  

Tech-savvy protection  
Are you worried about damage to your property? Before smart technology came around, it is very unlikely that you would be able to detect a leak or any damage in your home. Luckily, there are plenty of hi-tech devices that can stop your home from being at risk, which will ultimately save you from paying out for expensive repairs.  

These devices include pipe detection which works by syncing up your phone with an automated system which is programmed to prevent leaks by alerting you to switch off your water. There are also plenty of fire and carbon monoxide detectors which send emergency notifications to your phone when even the slightest detection is found. This will ensure that both your home and your family are safe at all times.