Sunday, 26 July 2015

Family Holiday dum dum dum Abroad v UK Cottage

So we've just booked our week away! 

A cottage in Devon, we've been to Devon a few times with the kids now.  Bideford has been great, but we've decided to head further south this time, well that should be we're braving a longer car journey with Willow!  So we've booked a little place called Brixham; by account "The English Riviera".  All seems very twee, the cottage of a good standard, has a telly and wifi. 

We'll have a lovely time, does it feel like a holiday if you don't get on a plane? Mmmmmm it certainly has a different feel to it, as carefrees with no children Mr. C and I had a fair few holidays and city breaks, you know jetting off (well to Bruges, Zante and Amsterdam).  We did favour the Greek islands, all very relaxing, sunny, beachy, exotic, non-british, you know abroad..... 

We have been up up and away with the children, Crete, Lanzarote and Menorca. They were very nice, a good break, but somewhat stressful.  Why is that?  Comparing and contrasting jetting off to a good old British getaway: 

1.  So, in the UK you're able to without worry and too much fuss nip to a 24 hour Tesco to collect the 152 items the baby needs (that you've not thought of).  UK Hol 1 

2.  In the same vein you can travel with your car, rather than the limited (measly) baggage allowance (come on do you know how much wedges weigh... I'm not leaving them lovelies behind). UK Hol 1
Gorgeous sun, but it's hard work keeping Willow factor 50'd up

3.  However, you actually have to drive your car to these southern UK destinations, with children in the car, in heavy traffic as you near your idyllic coastal town... HELL. Abroad Hol 1

4.   Flying with children... is also HELL ON EARTH... between the two of us on a flight back from Lanzarote, Mr. C and I decided that on return to the UK we'd be putting the baby in a home.  Honestly our laid back little lad who was seldom any trouble can only be described as HELL BOY on a four hour flight! UK Hol 1

5.  So okay, transfer from airport... twice our Liz has vommed over me, and then the cheeky mare made me sit away from her because I smelt of sick (funny that).  At least if they vom in the car, you can pull over to services and give it a good fabreeze. UK Hol 1

6.  Weather.... well on the days we plan to beach in a seaside UK town... yes it poured down, however, the kids don't mind, they still make sandcastles and paddle... me not so much, really I'd die in a bikini braving the elements in Scarborough.  Abroad Hol 1 (however bonus 10)
Would you get a free donkey in the Canary Islands?

7.  The cost of a decent meal in the UK is possibly twice that on the Greek you don't eat out every night... Abroad Hol 1

8.  Here, you don't have to miss the Bake Off while you're away... UK Hol 1

9.  Cottages anywhere in the world are cosy cosy cosy... oppose to that of a villa or an apartment, or worse still a ch√Ęteau, they just haven't got the same charm? Snuggling down evening times with kids tired out after a day at The Big Sheep, bottle of wine, good film, cuddling up, take away, BLISS  UK Hol 1

10.  Warm evenings drinking wine on a balcony, in my living memory in this country I've never not worn a cardigan sitting out in the back at night.... Abroad Hol 1

Waterproof jacket a must, but still smiling!
Summing up, for us at this time in our life, we need the home comforts of the UK, but you know what we've had some lovely times, and I'm sure one day, in about ten years we'll chance flying with Willow again....

xx Emma-Lou 

Tuesday, 14 July 2015

I love parks...

So, School holiday's coming up, I do have to work some of it, and have a holiday to South Devon booked towards the end of August. But there's still a lot of days left to fill, I haven't got pots of money to spend on days out.... I will spend up in Drayton Manor and the like I'm sure (perhaps having to re-mortgage the house...). However I am lucky that my impoverished children like a trip out that costs nil: museums, libraries, art galleries, a little ride on the bus (although bus fare is nearly as expensive as air travel in Manchester). 

Where we live in Manchester, we're lucky to have brilliant park action going.  On Instagram, I've been charting my park activities, not a single person is interested mind, but I'll share on here my park summer tour to date. 

Bad Mother, I do take beers....

Round-about and Round-about

Park Selfie (have to... sorry it's an affliction I have!)
Phwoarh handsome husband alert

Sorry I am a gobshite... I do yoga in the park (I'm just learning) 

There will be more in the series of #parklife... follow me on Instagram @emmaloucul80

xx Emma-Lou 

Thursday, 2 July 2015

Bucket List

I was chatting to pal just back from Glastonbury; she was full of it, really buzzing from her first festival experience, she's  not dead old or that, but she said it was on her sort of bucket list, got me thinking.... What's my bucket list, so I'm 35... by the time I'm 55:

1.  I'd like to see an Ashes test match in Australia. 

2.  Tour through Europe, take a few weeks from work, fly into France, then train it across the continent, stopping and staying as the mood took me (this is a pipe dream, there's no way I'd ever not have a hotel pre-booked... my biggest fear.... I'd end up in one of those.... *breathe*... hostels.... shudder). 

3. Learn to play an instrument of some sort, I've toyed with the acoustic guitar, but I'd have to shorten down my nails.... I just couldn't do it! 

4.  Learn to swim properly, I currently can manage 60 seconds of breast stroke; but I don't look great, I look like I'm drowning. 

5.  Finish my OU English Literature degree... thing with OU study you have to be self-motivated, that's where I struggle!  It's not that really, kids/work/house/pals/pets seem to take priority on my time.

6.  Bake bread.

7.  Print and organise the 15,000 photos I've got ready for snapfish. 

8.  I'd like a doggie, a little westie named Trevor (wuff wuff) 

9.  Write something, not to be published, but I think I have a short story in me, prob of the Mills and Boon calibre... I'd like to pen something anyhow. 

10.  Get back to my rightful place on breakfast telly... 

Right, so I'm not that ambitious, I'll have these boxed off no doubt!  

xx Emma-Louise 

Sunday, 28 June 2015

Father's Day at our house (week late no breafast in bed)

I was asked by Roberts Bakery to throw a little surprise Father's Day Breakfast in bed for Mr. C.  On Father's Day, the kids usually make a little card for Mikey.  We don't usually get him a gift, although last year in Tesco on the Monday after, I picked up a gimmicky pint glass 'Dapper Dad', it was reduced to about 50p, so he got that!

He says he's not bothered, I'm bothered about Mother's Day, I like the fuss, and now Lizzy is older, she drags her poor old Dad round the Trafford Centre looking for the perfect gift.  The days of homemade necklaces are behind me... but how fetching they looked!
Morning face, wooden bead bling! 
So last week on Father's Day weekend, we had chance to off our kids on the Saturday night, sod Father's Day morning, off the kids went to stay over with Nana and Granddad. This week, I tried to get up earlier than Mr. C, but he was out running before I could get the toaster on! 

So here we are all of us having breakfast come brunch, as usual for convenience, all of us having something different... 

Thinking about the bread from Roberts Bakery, we use the half white/half wholemeal loaf, very nice bread and worth noting, it was 50p less than the other big brands (in Morrisons anyhow).  Roberts Bakery sells itself on being light and fluffy, yes I concur, very fluffy and soft, even after a few days, we shopped for this Weds and it was still good going on Sunday morning.  A fairly local, lesser known brand, we should be supporting bakeries such like. I'll always look them out now anyhow. 

Going back to Fathers Day, Mr. C I don't think he really does mind, us skimming over it that is, we did pick him up some chocolates and a beautiful Man City keyring (these were late too....).  I didn't even upload a picture of him with the kids last Sunday (I am crap aren't I?).  But bless him, he knows we love him every Sunday... and besides he's not my dad...
Found this on her laptop, ah she loves him xx

See this link for those that got breakfast in bed right, I love all the homemade cards, very sweet.

xx Emma-Lou

Sunday, 21 June 2015

Blissful Sunday Morning... (no kids allowed)

We're quite lucky in terms of having evening babysitters; mostly because we'd leave them with pretty much anybody... We use a company that send round babysitters who are qualified in child-centred occupations.  I prefer to use this service, yes we have to pay, but it's not ridiculously pricey, they don't need too much notice and you don't have to clean your house ready for them coming. 

Now, where we're really lucky is, the grandparents have the kids overnight... and that is without being dramatic, blissful.  It's not so much being able to get out in the evening (although we always get out and do something nice); it's the next morning.  There is nothing better than waking up under you own bidding... having a Sunday feel like Sunday.  

So this morning, I come down, it's not like we want to sleep all morning... it was a respectable 9:30, Mr C on hearing me up and about made me coffee, there he is looking all relaxed actually reading the Sunday paper.... I snuggle next to him and finish my book. 

I quickly sort washing, organise dishes, even this without the kids around, is a joy, it takes me no time, I listen to the radio... I haven't had a child mithering for potato cakes or can I listen to her practising 'It's hard knock life'. 

We nip out for brekkie on Beech Road, we see people waltzing by; wouldn't it be nice to live round here they're thinking, we do!  But only really see the inside of community halls attending birthday parties.    

The holiday is over, he's gone to fetch the kids... I'm nipping to Morrisons for the weekly shop! 

(can't really complain mind, I've got a relaxation day this afternoon in a posho hotel... Father's Day is postponed here until next weekend, then the kids can jump all over him with bacon butties and novelty gifts) 

xx Emma-Lou

Monday, 15 June 2015

Booze and Emma-Lou

How much do you drink?  It's a tricky question?  How honest are people in their reply.  People have me pegged as drinking a lot, mostly as I do show off a bit on FB! From time to time I take stock and look at my intake. I don't think I drink too much; well not enough to worry about, I tend not to binge drink (people will be spitting their coffee out with this statement... but I'll come back to it).
So, in a normal week, I'll do my shopping, mental list, bread, milk, cat food, red wine... I do buy one bottle of red wine every week on my weekly shop.  I tend not to drink Monday and Tuesday (not sure why these days are left out, but I try and head to bed earlier on these nights as per my new year resolution).  So Weds/Thurs/Friday that bottle of red wine, will be one or two small glasses after tea, when I'm settling down.  To be honest I'm a bit weak when it comes to red wine, even one small glass has me giddy, I certainly wouldn't be able to drive I don't think. 
Saturday, Mr C and will share a bottle of something (Cava is my Saturday booze of choice), I'll always have a little port before bed (okay, okay it's not to be described as a small measure, a hefty measure of port... I love the stuff!).
Sunday, I might have a bottle of two of beer if we head out visiting, or perhaps a glass of wine. Sunday evening, I usually have one or two glasses of wine.
Now, if I go partying, out for dinner, clubbing, work do's, BBQs, weddings, christenings, hen do's, etc I will drink more, and I won't lie, I do get more than a bit pissed.   These occasions, aren't that often perhaps once a month? What's funny about me, I'm not mad keen on cocktails or shots (obv I will drink a shot if one is foisted on me, but I can live without it). My drink repertoire: wine, water, coffee, port, Becks.... and Pimms on a sunny day).
Is that a lot, when in the past I've tried working out units... I get confused... but I don't think it's enough to worry about? 
Anyhow, what got me thinking of this, I was asked by Eisberg to try some alcohol free wine!  I know; me!  At first I was like "As if!"... I'm big and clever, I don't drink alcohol free booze...
But on thinking about it I thought 'yes', I'll give it a try.  So I did, I opted for a bottle of Cabernet Sauvignon.  Taste wise, yes I liked it a lot, it doesn't necessarily taste unlike alcohol.  I'd liken it to a really sweet bottle of red.  Worth noting for those diet conscious, it's really low in calories. 
It was honoured to use my posho Malbec glass
So would I drink this again, do you know what, I would.  As it goes, I don't like to have more than a beer or small glass during the day (I try to hang on till early evening).  There are loads of occasions when not drinking is a better idea... when you're miles from home and would prefer to drive, when you're up the duff, breastfeeding, have kids about.  If I went to an afternoon party and this was in the offering, I'd certainly choose it over a soft drink (I've an aversion to fizzy drinks that are on tap in pubs). 
Just this Friday I went to a BBQ, I noticed a lady (who actually was very kind and drove me home) was drinking alcohol free beer.  She was clearly having a good time, she danced and joined in the merriment.  Perhaps too much emphasis is put on having to drink to unwind and you need it to have fun.  Surely, chatting and relaxing with friends, and the actual event is the key feature?
I don't know, perhaps I'll take stock again, but if Eisberg was available on one of my Sunday drives out to a rural pub, I'd deffo have one.
xx Emma-Lou
This was actually my beverage of choice this Saturday evening!

Sunday, 14 June 2015

Thursday drinks out.... Revolution Wilmslow

So out and about again, on the back of my little here blog!  This time to Revolution in Wilmslow.  I'd been in touch with their events organiser, Nicola and she'd invited me for a meal and cocktails.  As if I need inviting twice!  
Serious Blogger Selfie

So of course, mid-week I took Priya, one of these days I will take faithful old Mr. C on one of my blogging outings, but it seems a shame to pay a babysitter, when Priya is equally as faithful and keen! 

I have been to Revolution quite a bit, well the one in town on Oxford Road, I work at the University so it's a staple party venue, and we've used their function room upstairs loads.  Always, well organised, with light food and drinks vouchers.  Nicola mentioned Oxford Road was the first in the branch of Revolution bars. 

So a couple of Thursday's ago.  I bobbed over to Wilmslow, Revolution.  Wilmslow itself is proper smart, driving through the village; it's bar upon bar of flash looking places.  Parking was easy enough at the back (or front, not sure, it has entrances from the main road and a bigger entrance near to the carpark).  

I was impressed the minute I stepped in, Wilmslow Rev' is a smart looking bar, so slick in layout and so stylishly done out.  Nicola was enthusiastic to show me round, it's almost devious in design, as you wouldn't expect to turn corners and see such space. The function spaces can be adapted to suit smaller hen type parties or larger work/corporate dos.  I'd certainly like my Christmas party to be held upstairs, you'd feel like a VIP heading there (of course I did; I am celeb blogger these days).   

Food, really nice, menu a nice read giving a good description, I was between a few things, but went for burittos (pulled salted beef); Pri had a burger, when I say burger, it's not like just a burger, lifted from the menu "Smoked cheddar, streaky bacon, BBQ fried onions, Wotsits, smokinnaise, chorizo ketchup"... yeah nice. Food nicely served, attentive service, friendly. 

I'd eat them all me... difficult to choose

Of course, to give a good review I had to have a couple of cocktails.... I'm nothing if not thorough! A good few to choose from, first I had 'The English Windmill'; I don't actually go in for cocktails; but if I do, I go for old-school 'Long Island Iced Tea'. But I'm glad I opted for a change.  The drinks look good as they arrive and are obviously mixed well as they taste really nice (very alcoholic but not wince-ingly so, nice alcoholic!). 

Priya chose my next one... not sure I get her point... 
It's called a smug b*, I'd be insulted but it tasted so good!

Summing up, Wilmslow Revolution is worth a trip, it has a nice vibe, a twist on a usual bar menu, and cocktails that would make any night a riot! 

xx Emma-Lou