Whilst we were staying as guests of Bridgend Bites, our home for those hectic few days was Ty Maen (http://www.ty-maen.co.uk/ ) converted cow byre on a farm about 5 miles from Bridgend itself.
The directions were detailed, and we soon followed the past-the-school, past-the-pub instructions (it’s funny how they always look confusing before you set off, and then when you’re in place it all becomes clear), and we found ourselves driving up the track, past the magnificent viaduct, round the hairpin bend and Ty Maen came into view.
The cottage is attached to the owners farmhouse, but has its own entrance, garden and parking.
The situation would be idyllic, we’re it not for the fact that Llangynwyd as clearly grow a lot over the years, causing an unfortunately big nightglow, and the constant noise from the main road which can be clearly heard from the garden. If you stand at the side or behind the property, you would think you had stepped back 100 years, looking out over hills and moorland and wild open spaces.
First off I have to say that the cottage itself was probably the cleanest I have ever stayed in (and I’ve stayed in a few over the years!); it really was immaculately clean. There’s a mix of styles in the decor – contemporary bright and clean walls and laminate floors mixed with rather dated furniture and plates on the walls.
But it was comfortable, warm, and the six of us were able to sleep and eat and sit.
The kitchen/diner was snug – it’s a fairly small kitchen to start with, and having the table and 6 chairs in there really made it rather cramped when we were all eating.
It’s also a bug bear of mine when a holiday property sleeps 6, but doesn’t provide comfortable seating for everyone in the sitting room. A 3-seater sofa and two armchairs means that someone always had to perch on the footstool, or stretch out on the floor.
There are no carpets in the property, it is laminate throughout. Whilst this meant the sitting room lacked a certain cosines, even with a rug in front of the log fire, it was easy to keep clean, and there were no worries about a muddy dog hurtling after a day out in the rain. I started off not loving the floors, but by the end of a few hectic days in very wet weather, I grew to love their practicality!
The two bathrooms we more than enough between us, and the showers were amazing – always a Good Thing when you’re on holiday, I think. The cottage was well-equipped with basic kitchen essentials, and washer, dryer and a small table-top dishwasher (which isn’t really big enough to cope with a meal for 6 so we treated the children to lessons in washing and drying. They were thrilled!). Towels, bedding and fuel are all included – and nothing quite beats curling up by a log fire after a cold wet day crammed with activities, does it?
Ty Maen is a great place to explore this area of Wales – we were only 20minutes from surfing at Porthcawl, half an hour at the most from Swansea and Cardiff – but head North for 15 minutes and you’re in the Brecon Beacons. I’m not sire I could names. Better ovation for touring and exploring This amazing region. We’ve often stayed in the Brecon Beacons in the past, but never the Bridgend area of Wales – it always seemed just that bit too far to reach.
But during our four days we really did fall in love with the area and the people, and we fully intend to go back for a much longer visit, to see and do all the thigs we wished we’d had time for on this trip.
7 Nights in Ty Maen costs from £450, and there’s a £25 supplement for the dog.
I know – who can resist the iconic design? That classic design looks good in ANY house doesn’t it? I happen to have a duck egg blue Revival in my kitchen. I love it. Very Much Indeed.
So this Mother’s Day give your mum a gift to treasure forever: a vintage style Revival Roberts Radio.
Yes yes yes!
And don’t worry if that sublime pink version up there wouldn’t be your Mum’s first choice – if you win, Roberts Radio have kindly allowed you to choose your own colour (excluding the special editions).
So how to win the iconic ‘Revival’ DAB radio in time for Mother’s Day?
Using the Rafflecopter thingummy widget below for your entry, simply visit the Roberts Radio Facebook album, and share the one radio that would be on your wish list.
The closing date for this competition is 26th March 2014 and only entries received on or before that date can be included. The 1st prize winner will be the first randomly selected entry. Good luck!
New computer game You vs the World allows parents to teach their children how to face life’s challenges; from alcohol and drugs to bullying and health issues, through a series of fun games, and here at Little Stuff, we’re giving one lucky parent the chance to win the game, with an iPad Mini to play it on!
You vs. The World, priced just £4.99, offers a complete parent and child package, whereby the parent has access to a dashboard to set up and monitor the games, whilst the child can have fun playing them.
With comic book graphics and fun characters, the game encourages children to think strategically and make positive choices, shaping their views on health and wellbeing.
The game’s creator, Aaron Gibson comments, “All parents worry about the dangers their children will face in the big bad world, and naturally want to protect them, so it’s essential kids are fully equipped with the knowledge they need. You vs. The World is a new game-based way of teaching important lessons to help them navigate the challenges of growing up, whilst also having fun playing the games. Using a simple traffic light system, the parent can set the parameters of the game, selecting age-appropriate material, and monitor their child’s progress. This provides peace of mind about their child’s awareness of these issues, and also creates a forum for discussions about specific challenges as they arise.”
Designed with input from psychologists and teachers, the game is aimed at children aged ten and upwards, with the questions tailored for age groups 10 to12, 13 to 15 and 16 to18 which can be selected to suit.
To be in with a chance to win not only a subscription to You Vs The World, but also a nifty iPad mini to play it on, please answer the first three questions in the Rafflecopter box below. You will then be able to generate more entries by completing the other, optional, entry methods. The closing date for this competition is 4th April 2014 and only entries received on or before that date can be included. The 1st prize winner will be the first randomly selected entry. Good luck!
The last of our activities in our packed few days in BridgeEnd was a morning of Bushcraft skills with the amazing Sasha at CwmTawel, a luxury Yurt and Tipi camping site near Bridgend in the beautiful Llynfi Valley.
Of course, we weren’t there to try out the yurts (sadly… we did have a good nosy though, and have promised the children we will return and camp properly; it was the first time we’d actually been inside one, and they are amazing!) – oh no. We had much more serious tasks afoot.
We were there to Build Fire.
Sasha greeted us at the car, and gave us a quick guided tour of the site, ending up at the Bushcraft meadow. The solid structure keeps the rain off, and is the perfect place for a spot of survival skill learning, nestled in a quiet valley with beautiful views all around.
First task was to decorate a ‘wooden cookie’ – and once we’d done so we had to make our own string from the variety of natural resources Sasha had available to string them around our necks (ho knew you could make string from nettle stalks? We’re determined to try it for ourselves).
Name tags complete, we got on to the good stuff – making sparks.
We were each handed a flint and steel, and had a practice at just making sparks in the air. We older ones got it straight away, but the younger three struggled slightly. Bear in particular found it tricky to manage to hold the flint and the steel, and also maintain enough pressure for a really good spark.
But she persevered, and by the time I had lit my own tinder (we started with cotton wool, but we also tried thistle down), I looked up to see Sasha was sitting on the ground with Bear who was producing HUGE sparks with ease, with an equally HUGE proud smile on her face.
No.1 (the 15yr old) was the first to move on to the next step, and he managed to land his spark in a crampball (or King Alfred’s cake) – a fungus we had often seen growing, but never knew what it could be used for! As long as they’re dry, if you land a spark in them they will begin to smoulder – and keep smouldering for hours. They’re amazing, and this is another we-must-try-this-at-home thing we’ve carefully noted.
With some huffing and puffing No.1 had his bundle of dried grasses smoking away around the crampball, and then suddenly it went up in flames (and he dropped it on the floor rather than into the fire pit *eyeroll*).
The husband was the next to have a smoking bunch of grass in his hands, and his aim was a little better – one ball of flaming grass now burning rapidly IN the fire pit.
But that was a good thing, because we had also been collecting ‘snappy twigs’, the first stage of kindling, plus making ‘feather sticks’ with a sharp knife and a store of small logs.
Everyone had a go at feeding the fire, building up the size of the fuel until we had a decent fire burning some good twigs, and were ready for some small branches.
That section didn’t take long to write – but I think we had been at it for well over 90 minutes at this point!
Once we had some good logs burning it was time for a little foraging – nettles for some tea, and some willow withies for toasting marshmallows.
Boy finally managed to get a fire going himself (despite some massive spark-making, he was cursed with some fire-resistant cotton wool, and two duff crampballs. But finally he got a spark to grow, and ‘his’ fire was used to heat the Kelly Kettle. The pride in his face as the kettle boiled matched Ella’s when she made her first spark.
So as the nettle tea brewed, everyone gathered around the glowing fire and toasted marshmallows. WHY is it they taste so good? And when toasted on a fire you made yourself? Unbelievably good.
Then as we sipped our tea (or squash – certain people threw faces when I waved the tea in their direction; I admit we were all a little cautious in trying it, but I can categorically state that nettle tea is delicious!), Sasha placed a skillet over the fire.
Onto the skillet went the Welshcakes she’d made earlier.
Oh man they were good. Really REALLY good.
But the time we’d eaten and drunk, it was sadly time to leave Cwm Tawel – and we genuinely could have stayed and listened to Sasha for hours longer. The children loved her, were in awe of her fire and knife skills, and were all standing an inch taller with pride at their own abilities.
My husband and I could also have stayed and walked and talked with Sasha for hours – she has so much knowledge to share, and her deep passion and commitment to what she’s doing just shines through. We learned so much in our short time – not just how to make and build a fire, but a range of odd snippets, from how to spot Ash trees in the winter to how to ease nettle stings (and no, it’s not dock leaves!). We’ve promised the children we will return and stay in the Yurt next Autumn once dogs are allowed on the site (no dogs when the sheep are out), and I cannot imagine we would do so without spending a day learning some more from Sasha – next time we’ll make a shelter and go foraging properly!
Cwm Tawel offer a huge range of outdoor crafts and skills courses from willow basket making to wild food foraging. Prices start from £20 per child (children must be accompanied by an adult) for the Willow Sculpture course.
When BridgendBites suggested we might try Quad biking during our trip, the house might have echoed with a teeny bit of cheering.
Too right we would!
So we headed off to Adventures Wales in Porthcawl (very close to Cardiff, just a bit further West along the Welsh coast if your brain can’t place it) – and this time all six of us were signed up to join in.
I mean, come on. It’s Quad Biking!
There was a little consternation about Bear when she arrived – the minimum age is 7, but they DO need to be over 4′ tall. Luckily she’s grown an inch this winter, and stands proud at 4’1″. Huzzah!
With no hanging around we were escorted to the Quad biking area, and climbed into an array of waterproofs. There were wellies available, but we had come equipped with our own. Note to any future quad bikers – if you’re going on a rainy day, double and then triple check all your fastenings. Mud will be involved in this activity.
First up we had a quick safety lesson, and then we all took a turn to drive a quad bike around a small circuit – it proved very tricky for Bear, she was on the same bike as the rest of us, and the tight corners were heavy and tricky for her. but she managed the speed magnificently, and got all the way around with no help (if very sloo-o-owlyyy).
Next came the real thing – we literally climbed on to a quad bike each, and got told we’d be called in 35 minutes time.
And we were off!
No.1 shot off straight away, quickly outstripping the rest of us who took a circuit or two to find our comfort zones and notch up the speed a bit.
Then the competitive spirit started to kick in.
Jolly (who’s 11) and Bear found cornering a slight issue to begin with, but we had two marshalls with us who were endless patient at repeatedly getting them back on the track, and keeping them going.
They didn’t even laugh (much) when I decided that a sharp corner was the PERFECT place to overtake the husband… and drove over the tyres and out into no mans land, shrieking quite a loud “Oh bloody sodding Craa-a-a-a-AP!” as I went. *sigh*
After maybe ten minutes the erratic driving settled and we all stayed on the track long enough to really start enjoying ourselves. At first I kept an eagle Mumma-eye on the two youngest – driving the same sized quad bikes as the grown ups seemed silly, and I felt sure they’d get frustrated and disheartened at not being able to control it as easily as the grown ups. nit one bit of it – they both gritted their teeth in determination, and bounced and flew around the track.
Pretty soon I relaxed and started trying to catch no.1 myself.
The weather wasn’t kind – we had slashing sleety rain as we hurled ourselves around the track, which was freezing and painful on the hands. It did however make the puddles magnificent and the slippy parts of the track totally treacherous. Which was excellent, naturally.
The noise is not to be underestimated – these things are LOUD. So loud that I was pretty sure there was no way that any noise I made from inside the helmet could possibly be heard from the other side of that roaring engine.
So I *may* have let fly with a merry warble or two.
And when I saw that the husband had disembarked to take some video, I may have roared my way down the track at him, sniggering at my fearsome noise. Sadly, my perception of how the noise would carry was a little off. If you listen on the video, the thin wailing “Raaaaar!” is me.
Yes, I am ashamed at my fearsome noise. In my defence it was MUCH more scary inside my helmet.
And when I heard this, I realised that yes, the marshalls could hear me singing quad-bike-themed opera on the far side of the track too.
When our time was up, we couldn’t believe it had gone so fast – talk about an exhilarating morning. We couldn’t stop chattering and comparing notes as we started climbing out of the protective waterproofs – and sniggering at each other’s mud spatters. We LOVED it – and would love to go again, as a family activity it’ll take some beating for pure excitement and out and out fun.
Quad Biking sessions at Adventures Wales start from only £22.50, and you get to ride Race Built 90cc fully automatic Quad bikes – so no tricky gear changes to worry about. It’s a Fully instructional session with dedicated instructor staff, and helmets and waterproofs are provided. Try it – I guarantee you’ll have a blast!
As guests of Bridgend, we had a few activities arranged for us – but when they suggested surfing, I gracefully declared myself and the husband out of the invitation. Naturally I accepted happily on behalf of the children.
Oh, come on.
Surfing in Wales in February?
On top of which, there’s the whole wetsuit thing.
No, I think not, thankseverso though.
So, after a fabulous morning at Bryngarw, and a quick pitstop back at the cottage for lunch, we headed down to Rest Bay to the Porthcawl Surf School.
Initially we couldn’t find it – mostly because the area was drowning in big vans. Not surf vans, either – no; BBC vans. Dr Who was being filmed! Oh the excitement!
Anyhoo, we located the ‘surf school’ – which is actually a trailer in the car park with an enormous amount of surfboards outside, and met up with Hugh the owner and our instructor.
Hugh, and his glamorous assistant Dan, were lovely. Properly lovely.
They assessed the children for sizes, and then we whisked over to the changing rooms (fully heated, with lockers and hot showers too). Never mind the surfing, this was my workout for the afternoon – wrestling three of the children into wetsuits. It was exhausting. Then I found that the easy one, the 7yr old, had been plopped into one too big – and had to start all over again!
Eventually they were all kitted out in suits, hats, gloves and shoes, with white t-shirts on over the top. I instantly became mother to a bunch of hamster-cheeked seals, and have been sworn to protect the less-flattering photographs with my life – sorry.
First up, they had to wax the board. I loved that Hugh took them through everything they’d need – not just bunging them straight into the sea, but teaching them from start to finish. Bear, who does not like the sea and was feeling very nervous, had been so excited at the wetsuit idea, and so encouraged by Hugh that she was feeling quite confident at this stage. And then they got given a great big white crayon and got told to colour the board in… I was a bit surprised she didn’t start drawing flowers on it, but she was good and gave it a good scrub the way she was taught.
Then they had to carry their boards down to the sea, and across the sands of rest bay out to the edge of the surf.
here the first lesson too place, with safety and basic catching-the-wave principles.
Hugh was brilliant – not only providing the sharp eye and guidance the older ones needed, but also the warm encouragement and support that ensured the nervous Bear (who swims like a fish in swimming pools) felt confident in the sea for the first time ever.
We stood and watched, threw sticks for the dog, and eyed the black cloud fast approaching and blotting out the glorious blue sky. Eventually the cloud made it to us, and the heavens opened. we got utterly drenched, and entirely frozen – the sleety rain was February-vicious!
Bear lasted around 15 minutes in the water, managed to catch a wave and ride it to shore on her tummy which she seemed to feel was the signal to quit while she was ahead.
So I headed back up the beach with a shivering wreck who declared that she really loved surfing – but only in the summertime please. Shivering myself, I could completely understand that.
Once I’d wrestled her back out of the wetsuit and shoes – which, by the way, is nigh on impossible when you’re both giggling and sniggering at how pathetic you are at tugging them off – we headed back to the beach where the boys were just receiving part two of their lesson. They had all by now managed to catch a few waves whilst lying on the board, so now they had to learn how to stand up.
They quickly headed back into the waves with a determination I have rarely seen. time and agin they caught a wave, got up on their knees… and then rolled under or flipped off. Over and over and over – and yet none of them was defeated. None of them gave up and decided it wasn’t for them.
The skies cleared, the sun came back out, and they just kept trying.
Jolly came close – made it to his feet for maybe 2 seconds of exultation before losing his balance and tipping off.
But then, eventually, there was a shout. Boy had made it; he was gliding securely in to the beach, feet planted firmly on his board, shouting in triumph.
Eventually we had to call them in – all three came reluctantly, all three wanting just-one-more-go.We trekked back to the changing room, and they couldn’t stop talking, comparing and explaining. All three agreed that the feeling of catching a wave, the surge and the lift they found, was like nothing they had ever felt before, and something they couldn’t wait to do again.
Eventually, we had managed to extract all the boys from their wetsuits and shoes and gloves and hats, and we returned all the gear to Hugh and Dan with the hugest and most heartfelt thanks I’ve ever heard my children exclaim.
So thank you Hugh – whatever it was you put in the board wax, it worked. My children are now officially surf addicts, and cannot wait to get out and do it again. And again. And again.
I cannot recommend Porthcawl Surf enough – I never felt that they were in anything but the very best of hands, but not only was I confident in the safety and the teaching – Hugh was an excellent teacher. He lowered his level to be warm and reassuring for a nervous 7yr old, but managed to engage and enthuse a 15yr old in the same lesson. That’s no mean feat.
Plus, of course, Rest Bay? well, as beaches go, it’s pretty damned stunning…
A beginner lesson at Porthcawl Surf School costs just £30, and includes tuition, wetsuit and surfboard. Best of all for me, this isn’t the start of a hideously expensive exercise – with that one afternoon’s surfing under their belts, the boys now have all the basics and we can simply hire them the equipment next time we go. Board and summer wetsuit will cost just £15 for the day.
Even better value (and more fun for the whole family) for learning is Porthcawl Surf School’s Family Weekend Surf:
We know how costly it can be if you have a family and want to spend a weekend surfing so we’ve done our best to keep the cost as low as possible.
This is based on a family of 3,4 or 5 sharing a room.
A weekend of 1 Learn to Surf Lesson, and 2 Surf Hire sessions means you can surf for 2 full days.
Cost is just £65 per person, and the Accommodation is right on the beach at Rest Bay.
Our recent trip to Bridgend started off with a visit to Bryngarw Country Park, and a sneaky peek at their coming attraction for this year, the ‘Keepers of Bryngarw’.
I’ll be honest – the children weren’t over-excited. Let’s be honest – a walk in the woods couldn’t really compare to quad biking, could it?
But I was looking forward to it, and the dog could join in this one, so I gave them ‘the look’ and they acquiesced gracefully enough.
On arrival we were met by Ranger Dan, and the lovely Gina, who were giving us the guided tour. As the Keepers Quest isn’t yet officially up and running, we had to use a little imagination – but from the time they spotted their first Keeper (we started in the Meadow) the children were totally involved, and having a ball.
The Keepers of Bryngarw are the mythical guardians of the park’s woodlands, meadows, gardens and river. The story goes like this:
“The Keepers are the ancient keepers of the story of the land; it is they who keep Bryngarw’s flame alight. But now the Keepers have fallen asleep, the story has fallen silent and a shadow hangs over the land.
To bring Bryngarw to life once more, you must journey through the gardens and woodland, along the river and across the meadows. Using the special Star Talisman, find the Keepers and awaken them at last, and re-light the flame as their story begins to be told once more…”
By the time it launches later this year, each keeper will be an interactive totem, in which you can place your star talisman and listen to their story.
However – I think we went one better with our sneak preview, as the actor’s recordings aren’t completed yet; we had Ranger Dan (who wrote all of the stories) reading them aloud to us.
Which was pretty special – the writing is powerful and evocative, and his passionate love of the land and his enormous knowledge of the natural world shine through in every line. We were all entranced.
There’s no official route, you simply make your own quest to find all of the Keepers. In so doing you are encouraged to explore all areas of the wild and beautiful woodland and meadows of the Park (currently a shocking 70% of visitors to Bryngarw never leave the play area and tea room). You could probably whizz round and find them all in 40 minutes, but equally on a nice day I’d suggest you take a picnic and take your time – stroll around, explore each area, play for a while and just ‘stop and stare’.
Our children are used to wide open spaces – pretty manicured formal gardens don’t hold much appeal for them. But at Bryngarw they were itching to play in the stream, explore the woodlands, and the meadows were just made for rolling down.
We had a genuinely fabulous morning – we loved the Quest idea, and it wasn’t just the youngest who went dashing off to try and be first to spot the next Keeper. The stories from the Keepers made all the children stand still and genuinely listen to what they had to say; and look around and notice with fresh eyes the things they talk about with such love. The Keeper of the Woodland was big, powerful and eery, but I wanted to make the Keeper of the Gardens a cup of tea and sit with him a while. The (very well-endowed) Keeper of the River had the most powerful story, told to the backdrop of the rushing river beside us, and the Keeper of the Meadow was so ethereal and flighty the 7yr old had to touch her to make sure she was real.
We also loved the fact that each of the Keepers has been handcarved by a local craftsmen from a tree that has grown in the park and been blown down by a storm. That circle of life, the knowledge that these trees really have seen the story of this landscape, and are now going to remain for potentially a hundred more years to tell their story to new people, created a strangely emotional connection to the park.
We loved our time at Bryngarw, and have had to promise the children we’ll return in the summer to spend the day completing the trail when it is up and running properly. And also to try the magnificent slide in the play area ;)
Bryngarw House is set within 113 acres of parkland and amazing Country Park; yet is just five minutes from Junction 36 of the M4 motorway. I strongly suggest you stop by for a visit if you’re in this corner of Wales.
Brought to you by Cottages4you these cottages are perfect for families with teenagers!
Deco, Tregrill Farm Cottages, Menheniot, Cornwall
Property reference: TJ3 – Book through Cottages4you
These cottages are in an enclosed courtyard garden, each with its own barbecue area.
For families with teenagers, Tregrill Farm is ideally located for visiting the whole of Cornwall, South Devon, Bodmin Moor and Dartmoor with plenty of things to see and do.
The Eden Project is just 10 miles away and Whitsand Bay, which is popular with surfers, is only eight miles away. Watersports such as windsurfing, canoeing and fishing can also be enjoyed at Siblyback Lake (5 miles); Adrenalin Quarry and Karting are also less than a mile away. For indoor activities the cottages share the use of a game room with an antique snooker table (for over 16s only), table tennis, darts board and hi-fi. The cottages also have Wi-Fi.
Price: £300 for seven nights self-catering accommodation starting 14th March 2014. Sleeps four people in two bedrooms (£10.71 pppn).
‘‘Character cottages occupying a tranquil setting on Cornwall’s coast…’’
Situated in a tranquil hamlet just 6 miles from the coast, the cottages have been converted from barns dating back to 1824 and retain many original features. They are set in an enclosed courtyard garden, each with its own barbecue area.
Tregrill Farm is ideally located for visiting the whole of Cornwall, South Devon, Bodmin Moor and Dartmoor, with countryside walks accessible directly from the door. The stunning South Cornwall Coast, with its attractive fishing villages such as Polperro and Looe as well as the famous South West coastal path, is a short drive away. The fishing port of Looe can also be reached by taking the scenic train journey from Liskeard (2 miles). The maritime city of Plymouth is only a 30 minutes’ drive away with the National Marine Aquarium and its historic Barbican district. The fantastic Eden Project (10 miles), Cotehele and the Lost Gardens of Heligan are amongst the many wonderful Cornish gardens and historic houses which are within easy reach of Tregrill. The Rame Peninsula, known as Cornwall’s Forgotten Corner, is close by with picturesque villages and quiet beaches and Whitsand Bay which is popular with surfers is only 8 miles away. Watersports such as windsurfing, canoeing and fishing can also be enjoyed at Siblyback Lake (5 miles); Adrenalin Quarry and Karting are less than a mile away. For indoor activities the cottages share the use of a games room with an antique snooker table (for over 16s only), table tennis, darts board and hi-fi. Shop and pub ½ mile.
A cosy, individually-styled cottage with furnishings and decoration that have a 1920s feel. Living/dining room with open Jetmaster fire in stylised surround, large feature window and stained-glass lighting, open-plan with well-equipped kitchen with tiled floor. One step up to double bedroom with 5ft bed and en-suite bathroom with over-bath shower and toilet. Separate toilet. First floor: Twin bedroom with sloping ceiling, Velux windows and en-suite shower area.
I am no style queen.
There, I admitted it.
In fact, I have very little in the way of personal ‘style’ at all – life’s too short for more than jeans mixed with an array of cardigans/jumpers for me.
But I do find myself watching TV and yearning a little… whilst I wouldn’t want to dress like Rose Selfridge every day, I totally covet Agnes Towler’s incredibly embroidered workwear and nifty hats. And the way that the (evil horrible hateful… come on, we all know it’s coming) Delphine Day accentuates her curves is a genius I can only marvel at.
Where did it go? The pride and the personal effort?
Those ladies from 1915 would have been horrified at stepping out of the house with a hair out of place – why do we care so much less? Men and women alike – we all just have a little less style about us now, don’t we?
I know we’re all busy, and the need for gloves and ‘stays’ rightfully vanished long ago. But as I get older, I increasingly find a little style goes a long way.
“I am constantly on the hunt for fashion inspiration wherever I go, whatever I do. For me Netflix has become a one-stop-shop for ideas. Whether I am organising a high fashion photo-shoot based on the fabulously manipulative Claire Underwood from House of Cards, or a summery sport-lux feature drawing motivation from the preppy cheerleaders in Bring it On, I can always find something to spark my creativity. Let’s face it we don’t always have the time or money to keep buying into the latest trends, so using the characters to inspire the way you put an outfit together from your own wardrobe is always fun. The key is to trust your instinct, and always be comfortable in what you are wearing.” – Natalie Hartley, Glamour Magazine Fashion Director
So there y’go. My fabulous tea dress can be teamed with a few 1940′s accessories a la The Help, and I shall continue in my search for some embroidered tops and cardigans just like Agnes Towler’s.
(mind you, my current Netflix obsession is Quantum Leap – whilst Sam dips through the decades with ease, and I love to watch the fashions and the cars, I’m pretty sure I’ll not be emulating any of Al’s amazing ‘style’…)
So why not Rent a Private Gozitan farm house and learn to dive as a family!
These days, Gozo basks in relative anonymity as the smaller and more discrete sister island of Malta, with diving in the island’s surrounding waters replacing sea-nymphs as the main lures for travelers. Lying further south than the northerly parts of Tunisia, the Maltese archipelago enjoys reliably hot climes, perfect for all kinds of breaks. In spite of the island’s close proximity to Malta, few people have heard of Gozo meaning that it has escaped the fast pace of development and instead is full of rustic charm, nowhere more evident than in the villas and farmhouses. Families can rent their very own very charming private Gozitan farmhouse, complete with private swimming pool and BBQ area and close to nearby restaurants and shops. The island’s close proximity to the UK make this an absolute must for keen family divers as Gozo offers some of the best diving in the Mediterranean.
Original Diving (www.originaldiving.com/ 020 7978 0505) offers 7 nights in a private farmhouse on a self-catering basis from £2,400 for a family of 4 including a PADI Open Water course each and return airport transfers and car hire. Flights to Malta start from £350 per person with Easy Jet.
To find out more: http://www.originaldiving.com/europe/gozo/private-gozitan-farmhouses
Injecting fun into the Family Holiday Process:
Original Travel’s Partnership with Sharky & George
· Last year, Original Travel and much loved children’s party people Sharky & George joined forces to insert some creativity and fun into the family holiday process. The partnership aims to improve each and every element of the holiday process; from expert advice when booking, to teasing out the tantrums in airports and on transfers.
· Every child will receive a personal fun pack of ideas and adventures for them to enjoy on their own, with the family or while bonding with dad. If need be, Original Travel are even offering parents their very own Sharky & George ‘Fun Guru’ to take on holiday, armed with Go-Pro video cameras for capturing action shots, first aid kits, ideas for spontaneous games and a desire to find the fun in everything.
· The partnership frees up valuable time for parents both prior to the holiday and at the destination, allowing them to enjoy precious moments without having to worry about the kids and whether they will be entertained.
It’s not that long ago that I was obsessed by time.
I checked the clock all the time – I HAD to know exactly what time it was that I went to sleep, woke up, what time my babies woke in the night, what time we ate… naturally I simply couldn’t bear to be without my watch.
Positively felt naked without it.
Drove the husband mad, actually.
But then, my watch battery ran flat.
And watch batteries aren’t easily available where I live, so I had to wait.
And then I mislaid the waiting-for-a-battery watch.
And then I stopped noticing.
The watch turned up – but remained battery-less for ages.
I discovered the freedom that is watchlessness*.
Now I rarely put it on (you’ll be pleased to know it has a new battery and is feeling quite well again), only for specific days where i know I’ll need it, days with appointments and trains and such like.
And it always feels a bit weird and clunky on my wrist.
So imagine my joy when i spotted this over on the Watch Hut.
A watch… that is a totally delicious necklace! I LOVE it!
No more annoying wrist-wear, but time when and if I need it.
The Accessorize Ladies Fashion Charm Fob watch can be yours for just £23, direct from The Watch Hut. There’s a few other styles too, one to suit every outfit. I may have to get them all.
(*Mostly. I still need to know the exact time I fall asleep and wake up mind…)
Recently we were chatting on our Facebook page about magazines – and an overwhelming majority of our readers declared that they absolutely LOVED Good Housekeeping.
So we had a slightly persuasive chat with the right people – and just lookety look what we managed to get you.
12 issues – a YEAR’s subscription – for £18.
That’s just £1.50 a copy – buy it in the newsagents or the supermarket and it’ll cost you £3.90!
So – what’re you waiting for? Clickety click on the image above, get on over there, and have a copy of Good Housekeeping come plopping onto a doormat near year every month for the next year for less then two tenners!