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4 Classic Kids’ Meals with a Grown Up Twist

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You might not have the best memory of school dinners, but there’s just something about classic kids’ food that’s comforting. Probably because kids’ food uses simple, straightforward ingredients, we don’t muck about with it. Warm and squidgy beans and mash just melts in your mouth, chicken nuggets come in handy bite sized pieces and jelly and ice-cream is marvellously moreish (and low-fat if you go easy on the ice-cream). It’s good food so why should it just be for kids?


If you’re one of those parents who feels guilty about swiping a few chips off the kids’ plates at tea time, why deprive yourself any longer? If London can have cafes selling chocolate covered cereal to adults then we can definitely learn a thing or two from classic kids’ meals.  Check out these ideas for a grown up twist on the mini meals.

Homemade beans on toast

Did you see Dragon’s Den earlier this year when an entrepreneur secured investment for his grown-up baked beans company? If this is a sign of times to come then it’s time to jump on the bandwagon now and they are not as hard to make as they sound, they just take time. Regular tinned beans are usually made with haricot but pinto work well too and you can even mix in chickpeas. This is a helpful article with links to various recipes but the secret to the best grown-up baked beans has to be chorizo. Thinly sliced on top, it makes for a delicious protein packed lunch.

Fish fingers and chips

Anything with chips goes down well with children and adults alike. While a fish finger sandwich has been a common feature of many gastro-pub menus for a while now, fish fingers and chips is a crowd pleasing evening meal for the whole family. Make your own simple fish fingers by cutting boneless white fish into strips, before rolling in breadcrumbs seasoned to your taste (try oregano with a touch of salt). Bake in the oven for 20 minutes along with McCain easy oven chips and serve with salad and lemon.

Macaroni cheese

Macaroni cheese is great option for meat-free Mondays and certainly not just for kids. Try experimenting with different cheeses, for example fontina, Taleggio, Gruyere, even Camembert. Go for a Mexican inspired mac and cheese by adding diced green chillies and a teaspoon of chilli powder, or bulk up the pot with diced pumpkin – the sweet flavour goes really well with cheese.

Mediterranean Spag Bol

You can make this Spaghetti Bolognese recipe with Quorn mince as well as minced beef. Although spag bol is always a family favourite, this recipe is more suitable for adults because it’s packed with fresh tomatoes, herbs and olives. To make the sauce you need to set up a pot with tinned tomatoes, fresh sliced cherry tomatoes, basil, garlic, a glug of red wine and as many black olives as you like. Cook the spaghetti al dente and finish with a shaving of Parmesan. This one is too delicious for the kids!

Apart from the beans, which you might want to leave for the weekend, all of these meals can be made in half an hour! They are also a good way of introducing children (or teens) to new ingredients like olives and stronger cheeses by presenting them to cautious foodies in a familiar way. Have a go next time you’re craving your favourite comfort food.

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Edinburgh Fringe for families: a guide

Throughout the month of August every year the world’s largest arts festival is held in the beautiful and richly historical city of Edinburgh: Edinburgh fringe festival.

Starting in 1947 with a mere 8 theatre groups, the festival has swelled in size and this year there are now a whopping 49,497 performances of 3,193 shows across 299 venues scheduled to take place. From theatre to dance workshops, spoken word to comedy, the Edinburgh Fringe Festival caters to all and supports both big names and unknown acts at the very start of their careers.

It can often be difficult to find enough activities to keep children happy over the summer months and lots of us are always looking for exciting activities for the family to enjoy. Fringe is a cultural haven and has shows to suit every need ensuring that a visit to Edinburgh Fringe Festival is one of the most rewarding family activities this summer.

What to see?

Fringe boasts an extraordinary 113 shows all specifically tailored for children, which guarantees you will always be able to find something the little ones can enjoy. For a rundown of everything that’s scheduled this year you can order or a program or view it online at

Elsewhere in Edinburgh

There are many other things to do and see in Edinburgh so if stopping for the festival it’s important not to overlook these. The attractions are not just for kids though and they’ll be plenty for parents, grandparents and visiting family to enjoy. Two main areas you should visit are:

  • The Royal Mile: a vibrant street performance that goes on throughout the month along a bustling road with a festive and carnival feel. This is where acts come to advertise their shows and The Royal Mile is full to the brim with bright and wacky costumes, magicians and even acrobats!
  • The House of Fairy Tales: wholead interactive problem solving tours of the city which are guaranteed to keep children engaged and interested and also offers parents the opportunity to get to know the beautiful city in a unique and fun way.

Who can go?

Not only parents but also grandparents can join in the festivities at Edinburgh Fringe. Much like McCarthy and Stone retirement properties, Edinburgh Fringe Festival is making a conscious effort to make their shows accessible and enjoyable for the older generation.

If you feel yourself or a relative could benefit from extra assistance or a wheelchair while at the festival, you can contact the Box Office Access Assistants who are happy to help and prove that this prominent festival really is accessible for all!


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Sponsored: Ten Most Important Family Values To Cherish At Christmas

Although there’s no denying that Christmas and presents are inextricably linked, there’s a lot more to the festive season than the simple giving of gifts.

Family reunions, houses full to bursting and the pressures of putting on a perfect Christmas celebration can become overwhelming, meaning that you need your family around you and working with you more than ever.

Christmas 570

So if you’re drowning under a sea of wrapping paper or panicking about your Christmas card list, here’s a reminder of what’s really important with a list of the ten most important family values to cherish this Christmas time.

1. Patience

When you’re dealing with over excited children and imminently arriving guests, the quality that you’ll appreciate the most in your family is patience. Having them understand that they’ll have to wait a little while for Mum or Dad’s attention will help the day go a lot more smoothly.

2. Tolerance

Like patience, tolerance is one of the most invaluable qualities a family can display on big occasions. This can be especially important when dealing with relatives from different generations whose views and opinions may differ considerably from yours.

3. Generosity

Just like in Sainsbury’s Christmas in a Day film, the spirit of generosity is an integral part of a good Christmas day. Giving thoughtful gifts and even giving up your home for a few hours so that your friends and family can enjoy the festivities are what Christmas is all about.

Just watch the video to see exactly what we mean.

4. Helpfulness

Instilling helpfulness into your kids may not be easy, but if you succeed even a little it can make your life at Christmas, and throughout the year, a lot easier.

So before all of the guests arrive try to explain to your family that a little bit of help with the preparation and the tidying up will be much appreciated.

5. Cleanliness

Though it’s always difficult to keep things clean when you’ve got a house full of people, cleaning as you go will help you to fell more in control and a lot calmer.

To help make your life easier why not invest in some good quality cleaning products now so that you’ve got all of the tools you need when Christmas rolls around.

6. Appreciation

After all of the time and effort that you’ll put in to creating the perfect Christmas, a bit of appreciation will certainly go a long way. Even the smallest thank you will make it feel like all of you hard work has been worthwhile.

7. Table manners

Though table manners aren’t as important as they once were, if you’re going to be at a relative’s house this year, knowing that your brood are properly trained will be a load off of your mind.

If you’re hosting the festive feast, use it as an opportunity to teach your kids about the finer points of getting the table ready.

8. Good manners

Good manners are no less important away from the dining table, especially if you’re visiting long lost relatives. If your kids are lacking in the manners department, now’s the time for a quick refresher course.

9. Flexibility

With so much going on, plans will inevitably change and not everything will work out as it should. Having a family that understands that will make a huge difference to you and to the atmosphere on the day.

10. Fun

Last but by no means least, having a family with a well-developed sense of fun will make your Christmas go with a bang and ensure that everyone has a day to remember on the 25th December.

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Sponsored: How to Beat the Rise in Energy Bills

Four of the UK’s ‘Big Six’ energy companies have recently announced price rises for 2013/ 14.  Effective from this winter, energy companies including British Gas, npower, SSE and ScottishPower  will raise their prices, with energy companies EDF Energy and E.On expected to follow in their footsteps. With the cold winter nights ahead of us, this is bad news for homeowners who are already looking for ways to slash those household bills.

To help prepare yourself for the rise in energy bills, and to cut those growing costs further, there are plenty of things that you can do to help keep those energy costs down this winter…

1) Check for cheaper providers.

When searching for the best deals for gas and electricity, remember to look beyond the ‘Big Six’ energy providers.  Smaller energy companies may have better deals available, and most companies offer initial discounts to new customers.

2) Be more energy efficient

It is something that we are always advised to do, but do any of us actually put energy efficiency into practice? Simple things such as washing our clothes at 30°C and opting for showers instead of baths can greatly cut the amount of energy we consume – helping to eventually lower our overall energy

3) Upgrade your home’s current heating system

Other ways of making your home more energy efficient is to check your current heating system.  Most European households use heating circulator pumps to heat the home, however if your  domestic central heating pump is old then it is likely to be inefficient – meaning that it is consuming far more energy than necessary. Upgrading the circulator pump to one of the A-labelled central heating pumps available such as Grundfos MAGNA or ALPHA pumps will see you saving up to 80% in energy – reducing those pricey bills as a result.

4) Check meter readings

To guarantee that you are only being charged for the exact amount of energy that your home uses, it is a good idea to regularly check meter readings and pass these recordings onto your energy provider – this is particularly useful if you feel that your current energy provider is overcharging you.

5) Find out if any support is available

If you are struggling to pay your energy bills, most energy providers have government backed support available. This ensures that those on low-incomes can afford to heat their homes – which is of great importance during the winter months. The government also offers various types of support to elderly people who find that they cannot afford to pay for central heating in their home.

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Sponsored: Keeping Warm Over Winter

Electric Stove

The NHS states “Cold homes have a significant impact on people’s health.  One of the best ways of keeping yourself well during the winter is to stay warm.”

Keeping warm can help us cut down on our risk of health problems like cold, flu and even heart problems.    Last year, we had almost a month in the very cold weather with ZERO heating.  Our boiler packed up and the new one that arrived was also faulty.  Luckily we had a duel fuel system and still had hot water on electric and the gas fire in the lounge.  It was just the gas heating in the rest of the house that we struggled with and the kids hated having showers in really cold rooms.

There are certain people who are more vulnerable to when it’s cold:

  • Over 65’s.
  • Babies
  • People with long term health conditions.
  • The disabled.
  • Low income groups.

In the UK, the NHS says that around 25,000 – 30,000 deaths a year are linked to the cold weather.   We can look at ways to keep warm over the winter which can also help keep costs down.

To stay well over the winter, we can try some of these tips:

  1. Get our flu jabs.  Over 65’s or those who are pregnant or have some medical conditions, or are carers will get it free.   I am classed as a carer and get my injection every year as soon as it is available in a bid to help stop the flu in our home but before I was eligible for the free flu jab, I used to pay for it yearly.
  2. Set our heating properly.  Keeping doors and windows closed is sensible to keep the heat in.
  3. Wear layers of clothing and suitable footwear for outdoor cold weather when we go out.
  4. Eat well. Eating hot food and drinks as well as keeping active is another way to try and keep warm.
  5. Electric blankets are ideal for keeping cosy without breaking the bank.
  6. Hot water bottles are perfect for keeping our feet warm and cosy in front of the TV.
  7. Close the curtains as soon as they daylight stops.

I know we could use a stylish wall fire from TJ Hughes  for our home office as the radiator in there really isn’t big enough to heat the room properly.  It gets overheated in summer and is extra cold in winter.  Perhaps that is because it has a very large window, but the extra heat would be very welcome in there.

If you are on a low income and feel you might struggle with fuel this year, there are some cold weather benefits you might like to spend a bit of time to find out if you are eligible for.  Some of the most common ones are:

  • Grants for winter fuel payments and cold weather payments.
  • Winter fuel payments for those born before July 5 1951.

Find out more.

This is a sponsored post.

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Sophisticated Suppers: Persuading your kids to eat unusual foods.

This post was written in collaboration with Supersavvyme.

If your children can’t resist snacking between meals or just can’t bear to eat without slathering their food in tomato ketchup, you’re not alone. Young picky eaters are common in households all over the country, not helped by the availability of fast food and those occasions where you don’t have a say on what your children are eating.

If you want to wean your kids away from unhealthy food and encourage them to improve their diet, take a look at these top tips.

Provide lots of options . . .

. . . but make all of them healthy. When encouraged to sample a number of different tastes and textures, your kids are a lot more likely to find something good for them that they like to eat. Try to venture outside of your comfort zone when planning your family meals, and build unusual flavours like olives and oily fish into your dishes. Don’t be afraid to offer them tasty salads or sophisticated dishes like mushroom stroganoff – you might be surprised at what they’ll actually eat when pressed.

France Fruit and Veg 5

Mix the conventional with the unconventional

Trying to get your kids to eat spinach? Put it on a pizza. Experiment with olive breads, or mushroom and tomato sauce on pasta. An excellent way to get your kids interested in new things is to get them to help you cook it. There’s some easy recipes out there that you can do as a family, and if your children have seen how something is made, they are much more likely to eat it later on. Cut vegetables into different shapes, use different crockery – anything you can to make trying new things feel cool and exciting. Don’t worry about cleaning up after them – there’s plenty of money off coupons out there to help you stock up on everything from washing up liquid to dishwasher tablets.

Introduce new things gradually

It might seem like a pain, but introducing “problem foods” into a child’s diet is made a lot easier if you have a blender. Pureeing mushrooms, onions, olives, anchovies – or anything else for that matter – means that you can introduce sophisticated tastes to your children without overwhelming them with the texture, shape or colour. You can then start to finely chop, loosely chop and eventually serve the foodstuff as normal as it slowly becomes part of their diet.

Reward your kids for eating like a grown-up

You can reward your children for trying new things in a number of ways – if they finish their meal or try something new, offer them a treat as a reward. It might feel like bribery, but positive rather than negative reinforcement has been proven to be much more effective at encouraging children to act in a certain way – the odd scoop of ice-cream can work wonders for regulating your child’s eating habits.


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Sponsored: Sleeping Comfortably

Sleeping Child

Sleeping is one thing that my boys really struggle with.  For middler, I have no idea whether it is because of his special needs or whether he is just a light sleeper who really doesn’t need to sleep much at all.  I like my sleep, although I never seen to quite get enough of it, but I have learned that for us, sprung bed bases just don’t last long enough to have to replace constantly as he is far too hard on his bed (often by jumping on it).

I know for my own bed, I had one that was really uncomfortable for a long time and sagged badly in the middle.  I’d have to get up several times in the night and heading back into bed either had the little one settled into the dip for me to roll into him, or I felt the springs through the mattress.

It was one of those things that really stopped me getting the little sleep that I should have had, but I just never seemed to be able to justify the extra cost to buy a new mattress for our bed.  We have one of those beds that sits on a frame and only needs  a mattress on top, so the mattress needs to be a good one with decent springs for my comfort.

I hummed and heyed for a while, and when my blog had enough money left in the account I use for it, I decided it was time for a new mattress.  I tried several different ones until I settled for one of the Silentnight Mattresses.   I didn’t know about at the time, or I could have saved myself a fortune, but I’ll know for the future.

I have to say that I am happy with my back at the moment and I’m not sure I would change brand for me from now on, and just replacing the future mattresses for my boys will be a much cheaper option than it used to be.  The man is pretty nifty with a drill and a saw, so any slats that get “accidentally” broken are easily and cheaply replaced.

For me, that’s a sensible way to go.

This post was sponsored by TJ Hughes.   It has not been influenced in any way by TJ Hughes.   I will not benefit if you click the links contained within, but they will take you to a sponsors website.

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Featured Guest Post: An ideal family holiday.


If you’d asked me ten years ago what my ideal holiday consisted of, it would probably have involved a hot beach on an island in the Med, or somewhere further flung if I could afford it and to take a decent length of time off work.

However, having children has changed my view of what an ideal family holiday is.  Suddenly, there doesn’t seem to be a need to flee the country at every opportunity – maybe too much time spent in departure lounges with toddlers and children under the age of ten has cured me of that!  Now I really appreciate the value of packing up the car and heading a couple of hours down the road to our destination.

With our picky eaters, self-catering is definitely the way to go, and the last couple of years we’ve opted to spend our summer holiday at one of those caravan holiday parks.  Not that we have a static caravan, or could really say we’ve ever been true campers.  In fact, the idea of staying under canvas doesn’t sound like fun to me.  But what we do instead is book one of the mobile homes or cottages on the caravan park that are available to rent.

Staying in self-catering accommodation doesn’t mean that you have to be chained to the kitchen all week while you’re supposed to be relaxing.  It just makes life easier for meals like breakfast and for making up picnics if you have your own kitchen. Of course, you don’t have to use it – you can eat out whenever you feel like it.  My kids surely can’t be the only ones who find it hard to sit still in restaurants and we find that eating a couple of meals in our holiday residence makes for a more relaxing break overall.

The great thing about staying on a holiday park is that you get all the facilities and conveniences of staying on a campsite, without having to trek to and from the sanitation block in the middle of the night or to do the washing up!  The kids have entertainment on tap – with kids’ clubs and lots of other families staying on the same site, so there’s always someone to play with on the adventure playground or in the swimming pool.  These days, whichever holiday park you choose tends to have a heated swimming pool as standard, which gives you a great option on the days it rains.  There are often other activities to get involved in too – like learning a new sport or quiz nights in the evenings. And having the kids occupied means that my husband and I can take it easy and actually get time to do those things you never do – like read a trashy paperback cover to cover!

The holiday parks I’ve considered booking always seem to be ideally placed for activities in the local area.  Invariably, they’re in a picturesque spot where you would have to pay dearly to get the same location with a private holiday cottage, and it means that you can get to the sea, lake or mountains – whichever you’ve chosen to be close to – quickly and easily, whenever you feel like going ‘off-site’ for the day.

If you’ve never tried the holiday park option, and are a little unsure whether it would work for you, it’s worth booking a three day weekend as a trial run.  That way, you’ll know whether it’s your cup of tea or not.  My guess is that you’ll be pleasantly surprised!


Although this is  a featured post and I have been compensated for it, we do regularly visit Parkdean holiday parks and it’s a perfect post for my wee blog.

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Featured Post: Going online for the first time is scary for over 50’s.

The confident woman standing in front of me posed first to the right and then to the left.  I stood with my camera in hand and giggled while I took her pictures and smiled at her ability to laugh once more.

My friend found herself alone in her early fifties with three young children when she thought her life was mapped out in front of her.

Lorna was devastated when her husband upped and left just before Christmas a couple of years ago and she just got on with things.

Although she stayed in Aberdeen, she moved home and slowly began to rebuild her life.  I’ve long admired her for her ability to get through the tough times and she’s emerging brighter, better and more confident than I have ever seen her before.  There are times that I look at her and I have no idea how she does it all.

Lorna recently decided that she doesn’t want to be alone for the rest of her life and that’s a revelation for her.  I never thought I’d hear her saying that she was ready to move on, but where on earth do you start when you are over 50 and up in the North East of Scotland – which is really more like a little village than a big city to the locals?

She’d started going out now and then in the town, but found that she was being propositioned by what she thought were married men just out to see what they could find for the evening.  She wasn’t ready for a relationship and was just out once a month to get out of the house.  She found herself putting back on her wedding rings so that the men who approached her would think she was a married woman out with her friends for an evening.  I’ve not been in town in the evening for well over a decade, and I’ve been married for nearly two, so I’m well out of touch with how the town or dating scene works these days.  To be honest, the thought of dating scares me silly nowadays and I’ve enjoyed just sitting back, relaxing and listening to her adventures from a safe place.

I think she found it hard going as having young children and being a single mum is really not something you want to publicise in case it attracts the wrong kind of person, but neither does she want to lie.  Some ads in the paper saying things like “single mum of two under fives” are not what she would be comfortable doing, and we think that is just like waving a honey pot at a bee.  The hotspots for singles over a certain age are looked at more as a place to go for a laugh than actually find a new partner so that is out of the question.

There have been lots of conversations around what she would do if she finds someone she wants to meet, and she slips the odd sentence in here and there when she is talking to the kids.  It’s only something simple like “now if I’m going to meet a new partner, I’m going to have to get my hair, my nails and my face lifted.”  They all laugh and are very relaxed about it.   I’ve no doubt her kids will find it tough if she does find a new partner, but they’ve accepted her ex-husbands new partner with ease.  It’s a big worry for her and she’s trying to slowly get them round to the idea that at some point in their lives, they may meet a new male role model.

The world is different now to when we were younger and single.  The Internet that dominates most of my daily life seems to have taken the place of socialising, even up here in Scotland.  For me, that would be easy enough, but Lorna is different and as technologically challenged as you can get.  Just looking at a computer is enough to set off a hyperventilating attack, but for the sake of her kids’ futures, we’ve been spending some time getting her used to using a computer and not to be scared of one.  I also hoped that she would become interested in online dating, as a few of my other friends had mentioned using the site to find themselves a partner.

We started slowly by just getting e-mail, then moved on to some searches on Google.  She’s not there yet, but she is slowly becoming more proficient with her computer and looking for more ways to get her enmeshed in the online world. She’s still frightened of the Internet as she inches forward into the anonymous and challenging world online.  She realises that using computers will become a regular part of her daily life as she helps her kids to grow.

She’s begun talking about mixing online with dating which is a new angle for her and one that I am sure she will come too soon.  The social media aspect of the Internet is one that I am comfortable with, but she is not.  She resists Facebook and Twitter and no amount of persuading her that timelines and chats will be dictated by her has made her comfortable with it.  I can see that I am never going to be able to share my blogging or twitter addictions with her, but she’s realised that the online world can open up a world that she would never reach as a single mum bringing up her kids alone. Not only will online dating give her the time she needs to build her confidence, she can tailor her search to meet like-minded people who are also looking for dating in Scotland.

I wish her the best of luck, as she’s doing a fabulous job.


This is a featured post and payment was provided, but the content is real.



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Sponsored: A great night’s sleep guaranteed.

Sleeping Child

Every parent knows that establishing a regular “bedtime” routine for your kids is far from the easiest task in the world.  In her new book Sleep Solutions: Quiet Nights for You and Your Child, celebrity nanny Rachel Waddilove stresses that a regular bedtime routine is absolutely crucial.

She provides some useful tips on how to manage children’s sleep habits in a manner that is beneficial to parents and children alike. Waddilove points out that it is best to avoid confrontations with your child. Gradually starting a new bedtime routine is a good way to address the situation. Here are a few of her key suggestions:


Winding down and having a moment of calm before bedtime is a great way to establish a routine.  Think about switching off computers and video games at least 45 minutes prior to bed, and any TV shows or films should also be either switched off or turned down.

Let your child set their own alarm clock:

Giving your child small responsibilities can heighten their awareness of the importance of bedtime, and give them a sense of pride in their ability to manage their own sleeping habits.  Gift them an alarm clock when they are in pre-school. (Teach them how to use it, of course!)  This will help them to establish not just a waking routine but also teach the importance of going to bed on time.

Choosing the right bed:

Littlewoods Bed 1

A quality bed goes a long way to guaranteeing a sound slumber. When choosing a mattress, try to find one that is cotton-based for the best comfort. A softer mattress is also recommended, as it is the best for a child’s growing body. A little planning can help give your children a healthy and comfortable bedroom environment.

For more ideas, why not take a look at Littlewoods’s collection of children’s beds and furniture. It’s a great range which is affordable, safe and fun for kids.

This post was brought to you in collaboration with Littlewoods.

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Sponsored: Squeezing in another holiday this year?

The thing we do as a family is to go holidaying in the UK.   We plan to take a few short breaks in 2013, and we’ve already had one.    As caravanners, we appreciate the ability to do as we please, and still have a nice comfy base to go back to when we’re finished sightseeing, playing, or just popping around the local area for the day.

Skyline Pavilion Minehead

We’ve not made it to Butlins yet, but talking to the rep at Cybermummy 2011, I was tempted to put my hat in the ring as a blog ambassador, but decided it was too far for us to go several times in one year.  My kids love the holiday camp style entertainment centres although they take a bit of getting used to for me, so we do go at least once a year to one of them.

Holiday camps are great for kids and to keep them busy, there are lots on offer at Butlins resorts.

Although there have been many changes over the history of Butlins since it opened in 1936, the current resorts are:

Bognor Regis

Which hosts three hotels and can be found in West Sussex, beside the South Downs.


In Somerset, right in the hub of Exmoor, with lovely beaches.


Skegness is THE first Butlins resort and is in Lincolnshire.  Skegness would be the closest one to us and the one we’d think about visiting in the future, so I’ve concentrated on what they would have to offer for us as a family.


With a choice of rooms or apartments at Skegness, there seems to be a price point for any family with standard, silver and gold options.


There is a new splash waterworld,  with fast flumes, a shallow beach area and family raft rides, my kids would be well catered for here.  With football coaching on offer, I think two of my boys would be kept well amused for hours on end.

Fairground Attractions

Butlins have carousels and other rides to keep kids happy.  There are no extra charges for the outdoor fairground and rides are thankfully free.   Although it wouldn’t be appropriate for my kids as they’re older, there is also an indoor funfair just for kids under 5.

Live Shows

With Reds and Centre Stage to choose from, there will a range of live music and dance shows.    There are loads to choose from, including Bob the Builder and Fireman Sam for kids, and all included in the price of the holiday.  The traditional and famous red coats also take a turn at putting on their own shows, so there seems to be something for everyone.  The live shows would be what kept my special needs child entertained for hours on end, so this may be worth a long drive and a visit from us.


No holiday would be a holiday without food choices, the more the merrier.  Butlins gives plenty options for eating on site.

For a daily charge, there is food on offer in the buffet restaurant.   Choose from stir fries, carveries, traditional and continental breakfasts and much much more.  Children even have their own buffet counter to choose from, though I suspect my growing boys would simply wolf down loads from the adults choices.


If you don’t want to take the kids, go with their live music weekends for over 18’s.

Sponsored by Butlins 

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Frugal Tips For Any Scottish Family

I’ve always spent time with the kids making sure they salt a few pennies away for when they’re older, and I think it’s something that we do tend to do when we have kids.  My kids have their wee bank accounts that we opened 7 years ago and they put half of any birthday and Christmas money they receive into it to hopefully make them a bit sensible with money.

I try to get my kids to see the value in things and to live as frugally as we can.  I don’t think it is sensible to waste money, nor to let our kids think that money is so easy to get, it doesn’t actually mean anything.  I’m not advocating living in a shoe box and going back to nature with vegetable plots and chickens in the garden (though I would dearly love to have chickens in the garden.)

Here are my top 5 tips for being sensible and not wasting money.

Shopping Basket

1. Look At Your Shopping Trolley & Take OUT What You Don’t NEED

Living frugally starts with shopping.  As a family, when we go out with the kids, I tend to find myself at the checkout with lots of things in the trolley that I didn’t put there.  It may be wishful thinking on the part of the kids, but I’ve now got into the habit of checking my trolley every aisle to see what we don’t actually need.   I do often find myself getting to the checkout and almost scared at what the bill will be, but I am much better at actually saying no, I don’t want something after all and putting it back.  I don’t do it with fridge or freezer stuff, but clothes, household stuff and the kids drop-ins are great for excluding at the checkout.

2. Shopping Again – Bulk Packs And Freebies Don’t Always Add Up To Savings

We get vouchers through from our supermarkets, but do we really need or want what they’re for.  A jumbo roll of toilet rolls may look a snip at £2 off, but if that brand is £3 dearer than the one you usually buy, what’s the point.  If the voucher is for something you need, go for it, but otherwise, let it go.   Similarly, the special “deals” for multi packs can sometimes be more expensive than the items bought individually.  Look at the amount of product you get with the special deal and work out the actual cost to you.  I never used to do this, and I’ve found huge savings by being a bit more vigilant about what I put into my trolley.

3. Do We Need Throwaway Goods?

This is the hardest one for us as we struggle with buying light.  There are 6 of us and 4 animals at home, and we do need to make an effort to actually use less packaging, products and recycling. In the caravan, I used to use paper plates for ease, but replaced those with cheap plastic ones we can wash.  We no longer use paper towels often in the kitchen and I keep plenty old dish cloths in reserve that can all go in the washing machine with the regular cloths.  I’ve not found a replacement for toilet paper, but if there was one, I’d be happy to get rid of the rolls and rolls of the stuff we go through.

4. Set A Budget For A Month And Stick To It

I tried this in December and I found it really difficult to do, but it was a start on the money-saving exercises I am determined to get on top of.  I set us a budget per week for clothes, incidentals and entertainment.  Christmas was on a separate budget so not included in the lists.   The kids had no budget of their own and had to get anything they wanted out of the family one.  I found that we all had to sit back and really ask ourselves if we really wanted what we were looking for in the shops and online.  We decided to sit on something for a few days if we thought we wanted it.  The boys wanted a comic, but we agreed to sit on it, and after a few days, they were glad they hadn’t, as there wouldn’t have been enough left in the budget to go to McDonald’s.  It was tough, and I’d hate to be so strict all the time, but it was a good experience.

5. Making Our Money Work For Us

Although I’ve set up accounts for the kids, as a family, we’ve not really done our bit in making sure we get the most out of what we’re entitled to.  My bank is the Halifax and browsing through my accounts last week, I saw a cash isa from Halifax option in my list.  I decided to take a peek and see what it was all about as I’ve never actually been too sure about how an ISA works, or even if we should have one.  I’ve always known it’s a tax-free account and my mother has often told me that we are losing out by not having one.   I was happy to see that one can be started with just £1, so it is well within our budget to actually contribute.  It’s always nice to have something that helps us say no to the tax man and it’s certainly made me decide to take my money more seriously.
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