Category Archives: Blogs

Fun Activities to Plan for a COVID Safe Wedding

Weddings are a celebration of love between two people and usually involve the couples closest families and friends during the day, with more friends being invited for the evening celebrations. More recently with Covid-19, weddings have been one of the main things to have been affected with restrictions changing and creating uncertainty for couples. It can seem daunting at the moment for anyone who has their wedding still booked, but there are plenty of things you can do to ensure that your guests have a fun and safe day.

The numbers of guests who are able to attend a wedding have changed recently from 30 down to 15 which understandably has put a lot of added pressure onto couples who have already had to change their plans. If you are determined to still go ahead with your big day then just remember that it will still be a fantastic day, just on the slightly smaller scale. You will still be able to have all the things you originally planned and with the number of guests being dropped it may allow you more budget for some extras that you didn’t think you could afford before, so try to look at the positives, and remember that the most important thing is that you and your partner are making a commitment to each other and this will be the start of the rest of your lives together.

How to keep a long distance relationship going during Covid-19

There are benefits to holding a smaller wedding and it doesn’t mean you have to compromise on quality. An intimate wedding has a more personal feel and can be a very cosy occasion. The main thing to remember is that it’s your day, and it should reflect what’s important to you both as a couple.

Be Creative

One of the main things you can do to ensure that your wedding is still an enjoyable day for you and your guests is to try to be creative. Your day may look slightly different to what you had originally imagined, but it can still be an unforgettable experience, it may just mean adapting some of your original plans to suit the current guidelines. There are plenty of unique suppliers that can create a fun experience for your guests, such as hiring a cocktail bar or even a photo booth.

Provide Face Masks For Your Guests

One way you can ensure that your guests are safe and adhering to current guidelines is to provide face masks for each of them to wear on the day. You could be creative with this and get them personalised or custom made ones that bring some fun and personality into the day. They could be left on each person’s seat for the ceremony, or given out to them as they arrive on the day.

Livestream Your Ceremony

With the limit of only 15 people at weddings currently and looking to be in place until March 2021, one great idea is to livestream your wedding to those family and friends that are unable to be there on the day. This is not only inexpensive so it won’t feed into your budget (it just needs a laptop and good WiFi connection), but it’s a fun way to keep your family and friends involved. You could really make them all feel part of it too by asking them to dress up as though they were at your wedding, but just in the comfort of their own homes! It might be a fun way to create some unique memories too by having some photographs of them on the livestream.

Unique Dress Codes

We understand that any weddings that are taking place at the moment are anything but traditional so why not go all out on this and incorporate a theme with your special day, something that your guests can have fun with. For example, have everyone wear colour or a specific item of clothing on the day. This will also create some really lovely photos that you will be able to look back on and remember your wedding that took place in a global pandemic!


With the current restrictions in place at the moment with weddings they are unable to continue past the first dance; however there are still ways to ensure that your guests are having fun during your day. Wedding breakfasts are still able to take place so this is an opportunity for you to perhaps have some live solo music playing in the background to entertain people whilst they eat. A good option for this is a pianist or even a string quartet could be an option.

You will still be able to decorate your venue how you would like and there are plenty of creative ways to decorate a venue to give it a more intimate feel such as incorporating room dividers that can be used if your venue is more suited to larger events. These can then be decorated with material or lighting to give the feel of a smaller, more intimate setting. You could also look at having some table games that people can play whilst in their ‘social bubbles’ between their courses.

Having a fireworks display at the end of your wedding breakfast is a great way to finish off your wedding day, and with the night’s drawing in earlier now this can be done sooner in the day. This is also a great way to ensure that people are outside in the fresh air and also socially distanced whilst watching the firework display.

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10 family friendly things to do in Cheshire #ExploringCheshire

Living in South Manchester, we are lucky to have the whole of Cheshire virtually on our doorstep. It’s a beautiful, lush green county, with bags of history, acres of natural beauty and more interesting things to do than you could shake a stick at.

When it comes to days out with the family, Cheshire has a diverse range of options and something to suit everyone. I’ve pulled together a list of 10 family friendly days out and things to do in Cheshire which are ideal if you’re visiting for the day, or if you live there and want to explore the county a bit more.

Days Out: Lymm Historic Transport Day

10 family friendly things to do in Cheshire

Chester Zoo

Chester Zoo is a world famous attraction; famed for its commitment to conservation, the zoo has a large and diverse collection of animals. It’s also got a monorail and each December hosts The Lanterns, a wonderful night time walk where the zoo dazzles with wonderful light displays.

Delamere Forest

Delamere Forest is managed by the Forestry Commission, there are recreational trails, a visitors centre and a cafe. There’s a nearby train station too. Plus there’s a Go Ape there for the more adventurous members of your family.

Ness Botanic Gardens, Neston

Owned by the University of Liverpool, Ness Botanic Gardens is home to a fantastic horticultural collection which includes show gardens, a Victorian-style potager and an Alpine house and cafe.

Jodrell Bank Discover Centre, Macclesfield

Jodrell Bank is owned and run by the University of Manchester and it is the home of the Lovell Telescope, the third largest steerable radio telescope in the world. It’s open to the public and has a visitors centre, exhibits and gardens to explore, as well as the chance to have a look at the Lovell Telescope up close.

10 family friendly things to do in Cheshire Jodrell Bank

Blue Planet Aquarium, Ellesmere Port

The Blue Planet Aquarium is a marine and freshwater aquarium located by the Cheshire Oaks retail and leisure complex in Ellesmere Port. It’s a fabulous day out, lots of fun and an interesting under-sea adventure for everyone.

Roman Tours, Chester

Take a fascinating walking tour of the ancient city of Chester with an authentic Roman soldier as your guide. Learn all about Roman history in this informative, educational and interactive experience for all ages.

The Ice Cream Farm, Tattenhall

On warmer days, a trip to The Ice Cream Farm in Tattenhall makes a refreshing change, with over 40 flavours of ice-cream to try out, children’s play areas, farm animals and quad bikes, there’s no better place to chill out in the summer.

Just So Festival, Congleton

Now in its 10th year, the award-winning Just So Festival is the most wonderful family festival; with weird and wonderful things around every corner, lots to stimulate young minds (and not so young minds). Just So is the highlight of our summer, go for the day, or camp in the grounds of the wonderful Rode Hall. It’s the perfect way to unplug yourselves and let go for a weekend.

Lymm Historic Transport Day

Each summer, the ancient Cheshire town of Lymm is host to the Lymm Festival. Alongside the main festival, the Lymm Historic Transport Day is a real highlight for transport enthusiasts across Cheshire. With steam engines, vintage vehicles, diggers, bikes and even batmobiles; Lymm Historic Transport Day is a real treat, the Spitfire fly-over last year was a real highlight!

Days Out: Lymm Historic Transport Day

Dunham Massey

Cheshire is spoilt for National Trust properties, one of my favourites is Dunham Massey. It’s got long flat footpaths which are great for walking, scooting or cycling on; plus a magnificent hall, beautiful gardens and a deer park. It’s got a fairly new visitors centre and cafes galore. Wrap up for a winter walk, or slap on the sun-cream in the summer. Year round, it’s a great place to visit!

Laurus Homes have created a useful infographic which explores new Cheshire developments, the great things about living in Cheshire and the history of the Cheshire property industry. If you want to take a look, you can click here and download it for yourself.

There’s so much to do in Cheshire; we have friends and family over the border, so we visit often and it’s definitely on our list of places to move to when we retire.  If you’re going on a family friendly day out in Cheshire, where are you planning? I’d love to hear your suggestions, pop them in the comments box below!

10 family friendly things to do in Cheshire #ExploringCheshire

This is a collaborative post.

What’s on our Travel Bucket List for 2019?

Now my son is older, he’s much more portable and excited by travel than he ever has been before. Traveling with him is a joy and planning to travel with him is almost as much fun, pouring over maps and reading up about the places we’d like to visit. We have plans for 2019, exciting plans.

What’s on our Travel Bucket List for 2019?

Scandinavia – The boy has cultivated a bit of an interest in the Nordic countries. He’s heard us tell stories about our honeymoon in Sweden and our wintery break in Norway and he wants a piece of the action, and who can blame him? We quite fancy springtime in Copenhagen and I’d really like to drive across The Bridge.

North Devon – Summer always washes us up in North Devon. It’s where we are happiest and most comfortable. It’s such an easy place to holiday for a few weeks, weather permitting.

What's on our Travel Bucket List for 2019?

Majorca – Despite our love of UK holidays, my old bones crave the sunshine. We’ve taken to having a winter sunshine break and Majorca is something of a favourite destination of ours. The short flight and beautiful resorts are really appealing to us. Long stay holidays somewhere like Majorca would be perfect, especially during the winter months for me.

Glamping – We’ve recently returned from a glamping trip in the Lake District. The weather may not have been perfect, but we are total yurt converts now and very much looking forward to going glamping again in 2019. But do we fancy another yurt, or maybe a tree-house, bell-tent or shepherds hut?

Family Festivals – We love going to family festivals. Both the Just So Festival and Timber Festival are favourites of ours. The boy is already making plans for our Just So costumes.

What's on our Travel Bucket List for 2019?

Northern Lights – The one big trip I would really, really like to take next year is a cruise to go and see the Northern Lights with maybe some whale watching thrown in. I’ve always wanted to see the Northern Lights and if I could see it with my boy, then hat would be the best thing ever.

A Spa Break – I like to go on a couple of spa weekends each year. I love a visit to the spa with friends and a couple of days pampering does me the power of good. I like adult only, quiet spa hotels in the middle of nowhere, where you can just relax and unwind.

What’s on your travel bucket list for 2019? 

This is a collaborative post.

How we’re saving money with LED Lighting

When we bought our first house and we had a new kitchen installed, we had spotlights fitted. It was very much the fashion back in 1999, but they were so expensive to run. There were times when I’d cook by the light of a small table lamp fitted with an energy saving bulb, because it was far cheaper than having eight spotlights burning bright. These days we’re moving over to having LED lighting throughout our house. They’re just as bright, if not brighter, and much cheaper to run.

LED lighting uses much less electricity than both traditional incandescent light bulbs and halogen light bulbs. They even outlast energy efficient light bulbs and are cheaper to run too!

To start with, we started replacing bulbs in our kitchen with LED lights. The kitchen is naturally a really dark room and changing over to LED bulbs made an immediate difference. We bought our bulbs from LED lighting specialists, LED Hut in their summer sale, which really helped to cut the cost of the bulbs too.

We also got new LED strip bulbs under the kitchen cupboards which illuminated the worktops. This was a real game-changer for me as I was able to focus the light where I needed it most. Plus the under cupboard lights are better for creating a bit of mood lighting, should your kitchen ever need to change its mood.

How we're saving money with LED Lighting

The next room we tackled was the bathroom. The bathroom is a tricky room to light. You need it nice and bright for when your husband is having a shave, or if you’re doing something you really need to see; but when you’re having a soak in the bath you just want to dial down the lighting. We replaced the existing bulbs with bright LED bulbs and again went for the under-cabinet strip light. I chose a waterproof one just in case. It means when I’m having a restful soak I’m not being dazzled by a bright light overhead; but there’s still enough light to read a book in the tub.

We bought a box of regular LED bulbs too. As the old ones around the house blow, we replace them with these new brighter, more energy efficient bulbs. It helps that we’ve had a smart meter fitted and each time I look at the amount of electricity we use, I have a dicky-fit. The monthly amount we use and spend seems to be slowly dropping.

I have high hopes that as more bulbs get replaced throughout the house, the less electricity we will use. I just need to persuade my family that we’re not actually living in Manchester Airport and we don’t need every light on at all times. Wish me luck with that one!

This is a collaborative post.

Our engagement story – 21 years later!

This month is the 25th anniversary of when I first met my husband and it’s 23 years since our first date. We don’t celebrate it as such, but we always remember and laugh about the very olden days. I was 18 when we eventually got together, a few months later we went to university at opposite ends of the country. Long story short, he quit his uni course and moved in with me and now 23 years later we are married with a family and a whole life together.

We got engaged on my 21st birthday. We’d talked about it and he’d nervously asked my Dad for permission and all that stuff. We went to a local botanical gardens and he got down on one knee and popped the question. The answer was of course yes, but we didn’t start planning the wedding because we had uni courses to finish.

I remember going shopping with him, the done thing has always been spending a months salary on the engagement ring. We window shopped at jewellery shops and he knew the kind of style I wanted and he did well. For a little over £100 (in 1997) he got me a nice blue topaz ring with little diamond chips. It was simple and perfect.

Our engagement story - 21 years later!

Going shopping for engagement rings was so much fun; looking at all the beautiful rings our paltry student budgets couldn’t afford. I sometimes wonder what kind of engagement ring we would choose together now 21 years later. I suspect we’d probably still choose the same ring or something very similar.

Until I became a mum I wore my engagement ring every day, but it stopped being practical. We had it valued a few years ago and my fairly cheap ring wasn’t worth millions, but it was worth about double what he paid for it. To me my engagement ring was never about how much it cost, or how much it was worth; it’s what it means to me. A promise of a life, a promise to be loved forever; a commitment.

We got married three years after we got engaged. This year we celebrate 18 years of marriage and we crossed the threshold of knowing him longer than I’ve not known him a long time ago. 25 years as friends, partners and parents. That’s a milestone worth celebrating!

This is a collaborative post.

How to Create Memories That Last Forever

For all of us, memories are important. They are a great way to bring comfort, make you smile and motivate yourself. Good memories have the power to make you laugh, cry and feel every emotion in between. They are important, so, it is well worth taking the time to preserve them for the long-term. Here are a few ways you can do exactly that.

Decorate your walls with them

Specialist print firms like hello canvas make it extremely easy to take some of your treasured memories and have them turned into artwork to use in your home. All you need to do is to choose the photos you like best, work out what style of print or poster you want and upload the image to the printer´s website. When your print or poster arrives you just need to hang it up. If the hook is already there it will only take you a minute or two to do so.

dust and things keepsake memory box

Create little memory boxes

Sometimes memories are wrapped up in far more than just images. Of course, images do help you to remember special events in your life. But, they do not always tell the whole story. That is why it is always nice to preserve other items alongside the images.

You can do this by gathering certain items together in a little box. A skiing holiday memory box could include your piste map with all of the runs you skied marked on it. It might also contain the medal you won for your ski school slalom run, a cone you picked up when you stopped to take a photo in the forest and maybe a beer mat or napkin from the restaurant you had lunch in. These items do not sound like much, but when combined with photos and videos they really do bring back powerful memories.

If you are able to, include something scented in the box. For example, when you create a memory box for a person, try to include something they wore regularly, like a scarf, in their memory box.

It is surprising how quickly the memories flood back when you see that item and smell the scent that they always wore when you open their box. Stimulating your visual and olfactory senses at the same time has a very powerful effect on your memory. It enables you to recall things in a much clearer way.

Keep a diary or scrapbook

For more general memories, keeping a diary or creating a scrapbook is a great approach. It is surprising what you will remember when you sit down and read your diary. Add in visual clues like ticket stubs and you will have created a very powerful way to trigger happy memories.

If you find a scrapbook too messy or unwieldy get a shoe box and stow items in there instead. Using card it is easy to divide it up into sections to keep things tidy. This makes it far easier for you to be able to find specific items when you want to share a memory with a friend or family member. This short article explains how to create a memory box and keep it organized.

This is a contributed guest post.

Throwing a party? Try these food ideas

Got the venue sorted? The guest list? The decorations? What about the food? Anyone that’s thrown a party will know that the catering is a huge part of any get-together. But what if sausage rolls and curly sandwiches just won’t cut it? Here you’ll find a few food ideas that’ll make your party one to remember!

Hog roast

A hog roast. The amazing aroma, the incredible sight of your dinner being cooking before your eyes and the fact that it requires very little planning and tidying up, hog roasts are becoming more and more popular at all kinds of events including birthday parties and even weddings! Check out Hog Roast Manchester if you’re looking for a little inspiration.


Why not introduce a little Spanish cuisine into your party? The sight and smell of a huge pan of paella cooking away will drive your guests crazy! Watching the paella cook is almost a show in itself!

blueberry and buttermilk scones

Afternoon Tea

There’s something so classy and delicate about afternoon tea. It’s also surprisingly filling! Serving up a traditional afternoon tea is a sure-fire way to please your guests. From home-made scones to slices of indulgent chocolate cake, a selection of tasty sandwiches and little patisserie marvels, the choices and combinations are huge. Afternoon Tea is also quite cheap and works well with a vintage style theme! Delicate pieces of china and the pretty display of food will brighten every table and will give your get-together a real touch of elegance.


Who doesn’t like pizza? Whether you’ve got veggie or vegan guests coming, or guests who even like pineapple, pizza is loved by everyone. You have a few options here, you could create a “build your own” station, where guests can put together a pizza or their own creation, or you could hire a mobile pizza company, who can cater your event by building your guests their pizzas and then baking them in their wood fired oven!

There’s nothing better or more authentic then watching your pizza dough being rolled from scratch, covered in your favourite toppings and then cooked to absolute perfection. It even adds a touch of entertainment to your event.

Or if you’re looking for something a little more low key and budget friendly – simply order in!


We haven’t forgotten about the sweet stuff. Desserts and sweets are a huge part of any party!

Ice cream

It’s a staple of any party. An ice cream bar would go down a treat with guests of all ages or you could go down a more quirky and traditional route and hire an ice cream van for the day!

Recipe: Popcorn Cupcakes - perfect for movie night!


It seems that cakes and confectionaries are getting bigger and more elaborate! So, why not have a cupcake stand at your party? With endless flavours and toppings to choose from, you could create a whole menu of cupcake flavours!

Sweetie bar

What could be better than a whole bar dedicated to sweets? Whether it’s chocolate or sweets from your childhood, a sweet station is a great way to bring your guests together!

This is a collaborative post.

How we keep on top of our laundry mountain

Doing laundry isn’t really anyone’s idea of a good time. I like to think that in our small household we don’t produce that much washing; but I’d be telling lies to myself. With a boy who has more outfit changes than Elton John, a husband who works with chemicals and runs twice a week and a dog who can’t resist a muddy puddle, we have a bulging laundry basket most days.

I’m always amazed when I’m sorting the clean washing how little of it is mine. Working from home I don’t tend to make much of a mess of myself, so a top will easily do two or three days before it gets washed.

Our laundry routine is tried and tested. My husband and I have been washing each other’s pants for over 20 years now. It’s not a task we enjoy, but it needs to be done.How we keep on top of our laundry basket mountain

We have a big laundry basket in a cupboard.. When the basket is full, he lugs it downstairs and puts a load on. Our laundry basket typically holds two loads. He’s usually out at work when the washing is done. When I’m in the kitchen making myself some lunch, I’ll empty and hang up the wet clothes and put load number two on. I’ll empty the washing machine again while I’m in the kitchen cooking tea.

In terms of washing powder, we tend to either use Fairy or Supermarket Sensitive powder. If something is badly stained we soak it in Napisan before and add a dash to the wash too. As for laundry baskets, I love a big laundry basket (like these lovely big ones from Lionshome), despite its size ours seems to fill up quite quickly.

The washing machine is on every other day usually. Except at weekends when it’s usually seeing some action on both days. Once the washing is dry, it makes its way upstairs to be added to the sorting pile. This is where our washing tends to get stuck for a few days until the pile is so big one of us snaps.

I don’t iron, I refuse to iron, so this is something my husband does. He irons most of his clothes and some of our son’s tops, he does this about once a week.

Every weekend we wash bedding and towels, along with any other loads which need washing. The winter months are hard because we can’t really hang clothes out on the washing line. I love warm summer days when a line of washing dries quickly. It’s those days I’m scrabbling around for things to wash just because I can and I know they will dry quickly. Cushion covers, curtains, duvets all get thrown in.

Time-Saving Laundry Tips for Busy Mums

During the long winter months our house looks like the back room of a dry cleaners. There are clothes hanging up everywhere and the radiators constantly covered in damp clothes. We have a couple of drying racks and airers, again Lionshome come up trumps with some good options to choose from.

It’s not a perfect routine, but it works for us. Right now I’m watching the snow silently falling and I’m wondering when I’ll be able to peg my first line of washing out on the line this year. There’s something really lovely about washing that’s been dried on the line. Roll on summer!

This is a sponsored post.

Treat car mad kids to a junior driving experience

When I was pregnant and on maternity leave I watched an awful lot of Top Gear. I blame my son’s obsession with cars on my postnatal obsession with Top Gear. He’s already told me he wants to be a racing driver when he grows up, and when we’re in the car he wants us to race the other cars on the road. We don’t, obviously, because it’s a road not a race track, but I can’t think of anything he’d enjoy more than being at an actual race track and taking part in a junior driving experience day.

Designed for children aged 11-17, there is a whole range of junior driving experience days to choose from. These experience days are available in five different locations across the UK. Depending on which experience you choose, it gives junior driving fanatics the chance to drive different cars; including supercars under the expert guidance of specially trained driving instructors. What a treat!

Imagine being able to drive a Ferrari, an Aston Martin, an Audi R8, a Lamborghini, a Nissan GTR or even a Porsche! Imagine what the other kids would say at school the next day! These junior experience days are such a good way to give kids who love cars the chance to be close to some of the best cars in the world; not to mention giving them the chance to drive them too!

I think experience days have come on quite a long way in recent years. I went through a phase of buying all kinds of things for my quite adventurous husband. Things like indoor skydiving and zorbing, but I know he would absolutely love a driving experience day. Maybe that’s something I could treat both of the boys to when the littlest one is a bit older and his feet can reach the pedals.

Have you ever been on an experience day? What’s the best thing you’ve done?

Treat car mad kids to a junior driving experience

This is a sponsored post.

Could you go on holiday for the cost of your commute?

Every January when the rail fares are increased commuters collectively wince and dig a little deeper to pay to get to work. These days I work from home, so my commute is non-existent, but I used to travel by train to work.

It wasn’t an epic journey, it was from my suburban home into Manchester and back again. The journey was quicker by train but quite a chunk more expensive and not as reliable as it should have been. It got me to work quickly and I usually managed to grab a seat, so I couldn’t complain too much.

Could you go on holiday for the cost of your commute?

I used to buy a weekly ticket for around £20. At the time I was working as a temp; it wasn’t worth buying anything longer term because my contract could have ended at any point. The £20 a week was a decent chunk of my disposable income at the time too, so like most other commuters I resented it.

My train was on the airport line. I used to wonder on rainy grey days what would happen if I stayed on the train and found myself at the airport. Turning up with my passport in hand and a weekend bag by my side. Where would I go? Where could I go?

Love Holidays have recently created an interactive tube map. The map highlights some of the holiday destinations that can be enjoyed in exchange for a week of rent and tube travel in the UK’s capital and most expensive city – London.

All you have to do is enter a daily commute on the holiday finder tube map and discover some of the destinations that can be reached, based on average weekly rent and tube fares in the UK’s capital.

So where could I go? It turns out based on my old commute length I could go to Turkey. Shall I start packing now?

Could you go on holiday for the cost of your commute?

Where could your commute take you?

This is a collaborative post with LoveHolidays.