Butlins Love! Butlins Minehead Resort and their Spectacular New Chalet Village

EDITORIAL USE ONLY (Left to right) Lilly-Grace Perkins aged 5 and her sister Sienna Perkins aged 8 from Minehead enjoy some family time in the installation of Sir William Butlin roses at the new West Lakes Chalet Village on Butlin's Minehead resort in Somerset. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Tuesday May 12, 2015. Exactly 1,936 of the newly commissioned roses form a 10x10ft scale replica of Billy Butlin's original chalets, which he unveiled to British holidaymakers in 1936 and each chalet was surrounded by its own garden of roses to create a home from home for families. The rose has been commissioned to commemorate the launch of the new £16 million chalet village, and will be planted across Butlin's resorts with some of the blooms to be sold to raise money for Great Ormond Street Hospital, Billy's favourite charity and Butlin's official charity partner for 2015. Photo credit should read: Geoff Caddick/PA Wire

EDITORIAL USE ONLY (Left to right) Sienna Perkins, aged 8, Steve Perkins, Jo Perkins, and Lilly-Grace Perkins, aged 5, from Minehead enjoy some family time in the installation of Sir William Butlin roses at the new West Lakes Chalet Village on Butlin's Minehead resort in Somerset. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Tuesday May 12, 2015. Exactly 1,936 of the newly commissioned roses form a 10x10ft scale replica of Billy Butlin's original chalets, which he unveiled to British holidaymakers in 1936 and each chalet was surrounded by its own garden of roses to create a home from home for families. The rose has been commissioned to commemorate the launch of the new £16 million chalet village, and will be planted across Butlin's resorts with some of the blooms to be sold to raise money for Great Ormond Street Hospital, Billy's favourite charity and Butlin's official charity partner for 2015. Photo credit should read: Geoff Caddick/PA Wire

 

EDITORIAL USE ONLY (Left to right) Sienna Perkins, aged 8, Jo Perkins, Steve Perkins and Lilly-Grace Perkins, aged 5, from Minehead enjoy some family time in the installation of Sir William Butlin roses at the new West Lakes Chalet Village on Butlin's Minehead resort in Somerset. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Tuesday May 12, 2015. Exactly 1,936 of the newly commissioned roses form a 10x10ft scale replica of Billy Butlin's original chalets, which he unveiled to British holidaymakers in 1936 and each chalet was surrounded by its own garden of roses to create a home from home for families. The rose has been commissioned to commemorate the launch of the new £16 million chalet village, and will be planted across Butlin's resorts with some of the blooms to be sold to raise money for Great Ormond Street Hospital, Billy's favourite charity and Butlin's official charity partner for 2015. Photo credit should read: Geoff Caddick/PA Wire

With all that’s been going on in our lives at the moment- wedding planning, loft converting, living all over the place, what has been keeping me going is the fact that it’s only 40 DAYS (squeeee!) until our much anticipated trip to Butlins Minehead Resort. We are going for 4 nights – Adam, myself, the children and my in-laws – and I seriously can’t wait, in my role as a Butlins Ambassador, to check out all the resort has to offer. AND hopefully enjoy some sun (come on British Summer, do it for us!). 

What I’m also looking forward to test-driving, is one of the smashing, new, swanky, self-catering chalets in their £16 Million ‘West Lakes Chalet Village’, that were recently unveiled by the iconic holiday company. 

The idea of founder, Billy Butlin, the original chalets were his idea for a family resort, and changed the way Britain holidayed by giving families a key to their very own holiday home and undreamed-of luxuries in a post-war Britain.  

 Each chalet then was surrounded by its own garden of roses, as Billy wanted to create a home from home for families to enjoy perfect quality time – so with 1,000 Mumsnet users, Butlin’s has reinvented both the roses and the chalets for 21st century families to enjoy the same experience.

 Made of 1,936 roses – to commemorate Butlin’s first resort opening in 1936 – the rosy replica lies at the foot of one of the brand new chalets as a ‘reflection’ into Butlin’s glorious past and to show the journey of the brand – and of British holidays.

 The ‘Sir William Butlin’ rose bushes will be planted across all three resorts as part of Butlin’s commitment to creating perfect family time – and some of the blooms will be sold to raise money for Great Ormond Street Hospital Children’s Charity, Billy’s favourite charity and Butlin’s official charity partner in 2015.

 The new chalets are inspired by the original accommodation, which were designed by Billy Butlin himself. Basic but homely and painted in pastel pink, blue or yellow, each chalet in 1936 had electricity, running water and pretty textiles featuring little yachts or embroidered with the famous Butlin’s ‘B’. 

 Today, the same pastel colours and little touches from yesteryear run through each chalet, from the embroidered ‘B’ to the framed vintage Butlin’s adverts hanging on the walls and the return of that pretty yacht print.

 To ensure that West Lakes Chalet Village meet the needs of modern families, Butlin’s teamed up with the UK’s largest online parenting communities, Mumsnet, to take all that was loved about the original Butlin’s chalet and reinvent them to provide the perfect place for a family seaside break in the 21st century. 

 Dermot King, Butlin’s managing director, commented: “Nearly 80 years on from when Billy Butlin opened his first resort, we’re continuing to innovate our offering alongside partners like Mumsnet to ensure that we’re providing the very best accommodation and facilities for short breaks in the UK, while also creating the perfect place to create family memories for many years to come. This magnificent rose installation recognises all that Billy created, with West Lakes Chalet Village being a continuation of his legacy but also to represent how far Butlin’s has come.”

 Mumsnet founder, Carrie Longton, adds: “Families are becoming increasingly time poor so it is so important to get the most of the time we get to spend together. We were delighted to work alongside Butlin’s, to whom we awarded our Gold Family Friendly award 2013 and 2014, as they shape the future of the great British family break by the sea. The insight Butlin’s gleaned from Mumsnet users as they redesigned their iconic chalets shows just how leisure brands can get families involved and listen to what they have to say in order to innovate.”

 Kathryn Ferry, historian specialising in the British seaside and holiday camps, added: “Billy Butlin had a talent for giving British holidaymakers what they wanted before they knew that they wanted it. The chalet was a key part of his vision because it gave people freedom. With their own key they could come and go, take part in the huge range of sports and activities or just relax in their own space. It seems obvious now but it was revolutionary in the 1930s and the things people expect on their holidays today really owe a lot to his vision all those years ago.”

So what do you think? I am seriously SO excited for our stay in one, and I can’t wait, as my role as a Butlins Ambassador, to report back in detail about our stay and experience of them- watch this space come July!

 Butlins Ambassador

 

West Lakes Chalet Village at Butlin’s Minehead, Somerset is now open. To book, visit www.butlins.com/chalets.

 

Grand Designs Live 2015!

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When I was offered the chance to go and cover Grand Designs Live 2015, I seriously couldn’t have been happier (fist bumps with a bemused 3 and 4 year old *might* have happened). I’ve been a huge fan of the Channel 4 programme for years, and since Adam is too, it’s one of the few telly progs that we don’t argue over giving time to (unlike random lower league Italian football, or Real Housewives of Cheshire, ahem). From all I’d read up on the actual live show, what makes it different from similar events is that as well as all the credit card battering potential of the awesome stands to browse (something for everyone in food/interiors/garden/building etc), you get much, much more on the inspiration side: From interesting and informative drop-in talks, to visual treats of actual room ideas from interior designers – it’s all here for the interior-obsessed among us to feast on.

When it comes to what I’m interested in personally when it comes to these shows, the things that catch my eye tend to be made up of the following: great things for kids/family (there’s my ‘Mum’ hat on), unusual or ‘pretty’ things that will give my home a little extra ‘something’, bold colours and slick design. In this respect I’m a bit of a magpie!

So…after spending a fabulous morning and lunchtime at Grand Designs Live 2015 (The River Cottage Canteen menu was Uh-Mazing by the way!), here are some of my picks from the show…

After skipping past a sea of glazing and loft conversion stands, my head nearly did a 360 Linda Blair swivel when I clocked something I had never come across before- magnetic plaster!!! I had a chat with the guys on the‘Thistle Magnetic Plaster’ stand and a play about with their magnet displays, and was seriously impressed at the strength that a wall skimmed with this stuff could hold. As well as the usual bits of paper, play magnets and posters, It was good to know that picture frames and heavier items are also a ‘goer’. What also makes it great is that it takes away the need for drilling and making a mess with holes all over the place. Perfect for when children’s tastes change and grow over the years, and thus their decor tends to change too. I was totally sold, and I’m considering buying some for our new loft room that we’re currently in the process of having done. 

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Now, these might not be everyone’s cup of tea, but these beautifully ornate banisters by ZigZag are crafted and molded in their Oxfordshire Studios from real tree branches. I think if you were building a place from scratch, they would make an eye-catching addition to any home, and a great focal point.

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A visit to Grand Designs wouldn’t be complete without saying hello to the gang on Springfree Trampolines! Our family has been selected as blog ambassadors for the summer which we couldn’t be happier about, and the stand had a queue of excited children waiting to have a go :-)

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If you want some fun-yet-comfy seating for your garden (or house) this summer, these big, bright and bold beanbags by BIGBOY would make a great addition. Waterproof, yet machine washable (got my Mum head on yet again), they’re ideal for hanging out. I’m eyeing up the green Banksy-inspired panda print one…

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Now, if like me you have a fugly radiator lurking in your house, look no further than coolradiatorscovered.com This company will hide it using gorgeous made-to-measure covers (in timber, paint/laminate finish of your choice). I showed Adam these and we reckon it might be a good option for the ancient monstrosity in our hallway. The yellow here on blue looks incredible!

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As someone who loves a bit of upcycling, the stand at Fox and Bear chalk paint caught my eye, predominately because of this awesome ‘Petrolhead’ blue painted dresser (I think blue could well be my next decorating ‘phase’!). What I love about chalk paint is it’s so easy to use- no tedious sanding down again and again, basically just slap it on (nicely!) and Bob’s your uncle. They have an ever-expanding range of colours, and can I just say that the ladies on this stand were the friendliest I encountered during the whole show? I left with a smile on my face, and itching to get cracking on our bedroom chest of drawers!

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As I mentioned previously, what’s great about Grand Designs Live, is that it really is just one big inspiration-fest. I took several pictures, not just for this post, but for my own ideas, of the work of a few of the interior designers. 

This bold and quirky kitchen, by Amanda Neilson, uses colour choices you wouldn’t usually associate with such a room, and made me feel a teeny bit boring with my white one! I think the yellow SMEG fridge on the blue background really makes the space (in my humble opinion), and shows that kitchen worktops don’t have to stick to run-of-the-mill colours. What do you reckon?

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I also loved this living room (below, designed by Tracey Andrews) which shows colour blocking at it’s most daring. What most caught my eye was the fabulously flamboyant toucan wallpaper by young textile designer and illustrator, Charlotte Jade. I chatted to her for a bit, and I’m slightly green with envy as she really does have a dream job (and is clearly very talented with it!).

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So those are the snippets of my day.

 

All in all a great day out, and I think if you don’t come away feel motivated and inspired to make the most of the space you live in, something has gone really wrong! My advice is, take your camera to snap away at anything that takes your fancy, and then simply enjoy and soak up the scene with a whole host of like-minded people.

Here’s looking forward to next year!

 

Thank you so much to the guys at Grand Designs for inviting me along! All words and opinions my own.

 

Introducing: Springfree Trampolines

On my recent trip to The Ideal Home Show, the very last stand that I came across that caught my eye was SpringFree Trampolines. As a couple with two small children, Adam and I had been weighing up for a while whether or not to buy one for Freddie and Sasha, the main ‘worry’ if you could call it that, was ‘would one fit in our urban London garden?’, and, I dunno, when you’re choosing a piece of play equipment that seems so BIG, it always seems a scarier decision than deciding if they need a millionth train for their wooden train track!

Anyway, I was impressed with what I saw, and got chatting to the guys on the stand. We swapped details, and to be honest, I didn’t expect to hear anything from them (these trampolines are MEGA popular!). So when they got in touch asking if our family would be Springfree Trampoline ambassadors for the summer, and road test one of our choice, I literally SQUEALED with delight! 

What better way to make the decision as to what trampoline is right for our family, whether it’s suitable for our outdoor space, and also (most importantly, obvs) what Freddie (4) and Sasha (3) think of it?

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As a family we are pretty ‘outdoorsy’- we love going for walks in the woods, going to the park, scooting, helping the children learn to ride their bikes, and also play a mean game of badminton in the garden (with F and S sort of starting to join in). Getting a trampoline has seemed like the next step when it comes helping us all maintain a healthy lifestyle, and it’s ideal for burning off steam in the garden when you just want/need to be at home. 

Since we’ve been in possession of the trampoline, Freddie and Sasha have wanted to spend a great deal more time out in the garden- it’s the first thing they’ve wanted to play on/with when they come careering out of preschool, and the first thing they want to do when they’re up and dressed in the morning (SORRY Linda next door!). It’s just perfect for high-energy children like ours, who never seem to stop moving until they drop at bedtime.

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So what’s the deal with Springfree Trampolines, and what makes them so different and special from the usual ones you can buy?

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Quite simply, a Springfree Trampoline is so much safer. There are no dangerous springs (hence the name) and therefore no subsequent potentially ankle-breaking gaps around the edge, nor are there any of the usual hard poles for little ones to fall against and hurt themselves when jumping. The base frame is solid and heavy (one of the first things I checked after it had been installed), and the enclosing net is strong and sturdy, yet very giving when someone falls against it, thanks to the flexible vertical rods used as supports (see pictures below).

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We chose the R54 Compact Round Trampoline, which is the smallest one in the range (trust me, you can go MASSIVE if you have the space!) at 2.5M in diameter/5m squared, but this is still a really decent sized trampoline, and is perfect for our two at the ages they are, and I expect it to last them throughout their childhood to be honest. What’s great is it has a generous maximum weight limit of 80kgs, which means that I *might* have a had a go myself (did you know that 10 minutes of bouncing is the equivalent of a 30 minute jog?). It’s also brilliant for lying on and simply relaxing with a gin and tonic in the evening (although that’s just me, the kids have far too much energy to even consider this option).

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So, with my ‘parent head’ on, is it a practical buy for the average family? I know to be ultra safe you really should only ever let one child at a time bounce on it, but with careful supervision Freddie and Sasha have gone on together (realistic I think when you have eager little ones). It was also a HUGE source of entertainment and talking point at Sasha’s recent 3rd birthday.

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As far as child ease-of-use is concerned, the entry zips are a breeze, and both of mine can manage them on their own:

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We also opted for a ‘flexrstep’ for easy entry and exit from our Springfree trampoline (S is only diddy!), and it was a wise move, saving my back lots of small-child lifting, and encouraging independence. 

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I just love watching the totally joyful looks on their faces when they’re bouncing!

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They have seriously had the best time on it since it came to us, and I actually can’t imagine not having one now *gulp*. What has surprised me is that despite being such a big piece of play equipment, and with a fairly meagre 60 foot garden, it’s actually fitted in well aesthetically and has been fairly unobtrusive at the bottom of it (I think the slick, black, non-garish design has a lot to do with this). Springfree trampolines are definitely the Rolls Royce of the trampoline world and you get what you pay for- a great look, world class design and a safe ride. 

What’s not to love?!

I’ll be back posting soon about our Springfree adventures!

Have you heard of Springfree before? What do you think of this trampoline?

 

A huge thank you to Rainbow Play and Springfree Trampolines for making us ambassadors and for enabling us to get our bounce on! All words and thoughts my own. 

For more info about Springfree Trampolines go to www.rainbowplay.co.uk 

My Captured Moment #2

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I may seem like a right old meanie using this photo of a week old Sasha as ‘my captured moment’ (she was NOT loving having her nappy changed!), but now it makes me chuckle, as that facial expression, and the sound of those set of lungs, has not changed one bit in the 3 years that she’s been on this earth!

It’s hard to believe now that a week after this photo was taken, she was back in hospital, and very poorly with it.

Definitely a little fighter, and still has that determination (and occasional rage!) that was already visible at such a tender age. :-)

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Kitchen Cheat Sheet

As a lover of prints, and of generally sprucing up my home, these kitchen cheat sheets by Everest are the best freebies I’ve come across in a long while! Available to print out on to A4 card/paper and then frame, I reckon they’d be the perfect addition to a kitchen wall (especially when you’re rubbish at knowing your cups from your grams, and your ‘flanks’ from your ‘skirts’!).

Have your metric conversions, meat cuts, cooking times, storage methods and freezer storage timings always to hand (which means no more unidentifiable ‘mystery meat’ languishing at the back of the freezer for all eternity!).

So what are you waiting for? Getting printing! :-)

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Enjoy your kitchen cheat sheet- I know I will!

 

My Home Style – Edition 6

It’s a great edition of My Home Style on the blog today- as usual there have been so many ace pictures of home and interiors inspiration to choose from, Emma and I have been spoilt for choice! I am still very much loving co-hosting this series, and will continue to do so for as long as wonderful photos keep on coming! 

Please do hop on over to ‘Life at the Little Wood’ to see Em’s picks- she also has some crackers on her blog today.

This week I think I have been subconsciously drawn to room/accessory inspiration for the areas of our home that we are currently working on- our new loft bedroom, Sasha’s new room and what will be our new office space. Prints, both children’s, and ones that would potentially work well in the new office, definitely are taking up creative headspace right now! You can follow my children’s print Pintrest board HERE.

Anyway, that’s enough rambling from me- let’s see what awesome Instagram pics have caught my eye…

Talking of prints, I love this print featured on @elsievoncraft‘s account. I know some people find ‘motivational’ quotes and the like a little cliche, but I still can’t get enough of them, and find them really inspiring in a working space. I would really like to have this on the wall of the new office. 

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As someone who sells mid century homeware in my SHOP, I love this Orla Kiely modern take on it, in the form of this ace coffee jar that @everydayjo_x has! Available from Waitrose AND Sainsburys for under a tenner #bargain

 

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This relaxing bedroom space of Chloe’s (@chloe_rushworth) is simply lovely- it has a really calm feel about it, and I think the blue and white patterned cushions compliment the green bedspread/blanket perfectly. I also have massive light envy too!

 

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Rebecca’s (@rebecca.lou.mead) little white egg house is just perfection- I NEED one of these in my kitchen!

 

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Now, I am a big candle girl, and this scented combo of brown sugar and fig by Lolly Rocket sounds heavenly, and clearly caught my #myhomestyle co-host Em’s (@littlewoodlife) eye! I’ve checked out the website and added a few to my home ‘lust list’.

 

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I absolutely adore everything about @lotte5378’s bedroom- the nods to different eras, the up-cycled dresser, the brass bedstead, old fireplace, the stripped floorboards…it all just WORKS so well together.

 

 

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Rachel’s (@theordinarylovely) cheap and cheerful way of updating wall prints is inspired. She has a fab feature over on her blog right now!

 

 

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I have been SO envious of Esther’s (@insideoabout) travels with her family in China, where she has picked up these beautiful bowls for less than a £1 each! 

 

 

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Aimee’s (@missaimeefleur) workspace is just gorgeous- so bright and airy, and I love the old chair/modern desk combo, and all of her prints.

 

 

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and finally…. I loved seeing the start of Kara’s (@innocentcharmschats) children’s gallery wall- fun, quirky prints in colourful frames- what’s not to love?! We’re looking to do similar in Sasha’s new room, so seeing this was great inspiration. :-) 

 

 

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Thank you for stopping by again- what’s caught your eye this edition?

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Why blogging is good for your CV

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Often, when I’m sitting here tap-tapping away on my laptop, trying to fire out that post for a brand, or excitedly scribbling down an idea late at night that I think could make a cracking blog post, I often think that as a working ‘species’ we bloggers are often undersold and undervalued.

So many bloggers I now know, especially parent bloggers, started when their children were small, and often when they were perhaps on maternity leave, or a career break, and wanted something to do. I have come across a plethora of talented Mums (and Dads) who now blog- Ex Company Directors, journalists, PRs, writers, stylists, midwifes, teachers…the list goes on. 

What they all have in common as bloggers is that the majority are excellent writers, hard workers and have some of the most incredibly creative minds I’ve ever met. 

What’s shame is that so many of them (and I’ve chatted to enough fellow Mums now to know this) is that often, after children, they’ve felt in the ‘wilderness’- either at home with the kids (through choice or not), or continuing with their careers (again, some through choice, others not) but which ever way you look at it, all too often sidelined. Either way, too many end up dismissed as ‘just a Mum’, when they have oh so much more to give, and are actually currently ‘giving’, as awesome bloggers.

Now, I absolutely love blogging, and I also love the fact that I’m now able to make a little bit of money each month from something that is a joy for me to do, and that makes my creative juices flow.

But it has got me thinking.

It’s got me thinking “what if…I decide to stop blogging one day soon and do something else?” “What if…I decide that I want/need to get another job as an employee instead of/as well as this blog?” 

Would my blog, my internet baby, actually count for anything in the big wide world of *gasp* real life employment? 

Well after much deliberating about this whilst emptying the paddling pool last night (bloggers think of blogging, everywhere), I thought “Yes, all this blogging malarky does count for something”. Obviously, writing a blog won’t get you a job as neuro surgeon, or anything else that requires specialist training or a degree, but being a dedicated blogger CAN help you develop a HUGE amount of transferable skills, that written down, look bloody awesome. 

So, you think your ‘little blog’ doesn’t bring anything to the table, or no one would be interested in it?

Well you are WRONG!

Here’s why blogging is good for your CV:

Organisational Skills:

Pretty much every blogger I know, particularly if they have children to juggle too, is an expert in organisation. Many have schedules, plans, lists that they tick off, plus they make sure they know when linkies are running, keep to deadlines when working with brands, all whilst managing ‘real life’, families, maybe other jobs and commitments. Someone who blogs regularly and is successful with it, is likely to be pretty ‘on the ball’ when it comes to time management. 

Commitment:

You might not have been in regular employment for a while, but by blogging regularly and reliably for a decent period of time, you can prove that you really are focused and capable of committing to something that you’re passionate about. And believe me, keeping a blog going is a definite labour of love at times, especially if your children have been sick, you haven’t been able to do any blogging during your usual hours, so you’re up until 1am wrestling with a post!

Bloggers are ideas people:

Since blogging, I’ve found my brain is worked more than it ever was in a previous life, and I certainly find that ideas breed ideas. I carry a notebook around with me now to jot them down, whether it’s last thing at night, on the train, or watching the kids swim- they come to me at the most obscure times! A blog is essentially your own personal magazine and showcases these ideas of yours- something a potential employer will love to see.

It showcases your personality and creative flair:

The best bit of blogging! Not much showcases your personality to a potential employer like a blog does, whether it’s visually or through the written word. Your blog makes you YOU, and can be a great selling point if they want to find out more about what makes you tick. Obviously this doesn’t work if you’re uncomfortable with sharing your private thoughts (can’t blame you here!), or it’s a little on the ranty side, but otherwise it’s a fabulous way of building Brand ‘YOU’.

Networking:

Since blogging I have met a whole host of amazing people, both in the flesh and online, all with their stories to tell, mostly lovely, helpful, and each and every one of them has something to bring to the table. Need to find a breastfeeding support counselor? Want to interview someone with a beautiful home? Looking for another blogger to work with the brand you’re supporting? Tweet, and they shall follow! Or at least someone else you know, will know the person you’re looking for. Blog Conferences are great for making friends and building contacts, even if they can seems a little intimidating. Blogging definitely opens your horizons to a whole new host of lovely people, and with social media, even the shyest of people can have a loud voice and become networking pros.

Developing relationships with brands:

I remember when I first started this blog, how happy I was (and still am!) when an email from a company hit my inbox, asking me to review something. It was only small, and not particularly high value, but it was the first stepping stone in teaching me how different brands operate, writing a post to deadline, promoting on social media, and generally making sure the client is happy. 19 months later and I am now working for bigger brands (such as Butlins as an ambassador, Springfree Trampolines), but the same principles apply, and it’s been a great opportunity to have been able to hone these skills. 

Proven writing skills:

One of the side effects of writing regularly is that you are BOUND to get better at it. Sure, there are days when I know that what I’ve written hasn’t always been ‘up there’ with some of my best stuff, but I know that overall I’m a hell of a lot better than I was when I started, after having a break of a few years. More importantly now, I really enjoy it. The more you write, the more you develop your own style, and therefore your ‘voice’ will shine through- something an employer will look for, along with great writing. 

Assertiveness:

As a blogger, you are boss. Queen of your corner of the web. You call the shots as far as what you write is concerned, what fee you negotiate when writing a sponsored post, how often you blog…You don’t have to be arrogant about it, but as a blogger you value your worth, manage your blogging life just dandy, and definitely aren’t a pushover when it comes to your blog, your ‘brand’. Be proud of your blog and all you have achieved! Having a quiet confidence about you, and operating like a one-woman-business will definitely make people take you more seriously (even if you have to fake it to make it with that at first!). And remember, coming up with strategic plans and making decisions is something valued in the working world, and something that bloggers do every day.

Social Media Management Skills:

Aside from Facebook and a bit of dabbling in Twitter, I wasn’t really aux-fait with social media pre-blogging. Fast foward 2 years, and I now manage 2 clients on a freelance basis, and hope to add more to my portfolio once the children are both in school. I have learnt so much as a blogger, from other bloggers and from great blog conferences/ workshops that focus on getting the most out of social media for both blogs and business. I’ve inadvertently invested in MY career but attending such things using my own time and money, and that shows dedication in itself. I still have lots to learn, but I can now see how far I’ve come in this area, and have something to show for it.

Marketing:

The majority of us bloggers start out with little or no resources for marketing ourselves, yet we manage to build up a following, whether it’s a small bunch of regulars, huge numbers, or something in between. Either way, if we can do that from scratch with diddly-squat to our name, then we can certainly go into a company that has a budget, and market whatever it is they’re selling. Building an audience and a following is an indicator or your excellent marketing and PR abilities, and should never be underestimated!

and finally…

Confidence and happiness:

Okay, so not something that an employer would necessarily be looking for, but I always think that happy person= happy employee. Since starting blogging I am the happiest, fulfilled and most focused I have ever been. It has been a real confidence boost to produce content that I’m satisfied with, that sometimes other people love, and to know that there are some brands out there who want to work with me. I feel hungry to do more, write more, and work more. And I reckon when you feel like this and you’re confident (but not arrogant) with it, then you are already well on your way to being a great asset to any company!

I hope you found this useful! 

Have you ever got a job off the back of writing your blog? What other skills do you think you’ve developed since starting one?

I’d love to hear!

Little Loves #1

I’ve FINALLY got my little bottom in gear and am able to join in with ‘Little Loves’ again, something I’ve wanted to do for a long, long time. I’m always reading all the posts, so here I am to take part! *waves*

This week has been pretty hectic- we’ve had Sasha’s 3rd Birthday, and have now moved out of our home for a few days whilst the messy work of our loft conversion takes place. The next time we enter our home, we should have some stairs (eek!). The children are super-chuffed that they get to have an extended sleepover at Nanny and Granddad’s so all is well in the world as far as they’re concerned 😉

Read:

 

I’ve just finished ‘A Thousand Splendid Suns’ by Khaled Hosseini, and I can honestly say it was one of the most moving books I’ve read in a long while. I won’t ruin it for you, but it really is heartbreaking throughout, and also gives a great mini-history lesson on the recent political history of Afghanistan. I felt a bit ashamed that despite the conflict being on the news so much this past decade, I knew very little about how and why the country came to be as it is today. A brilliant read, and Hosseini’s use of language is beautiful and so descriptive- you can really imagine yourself being right there in the book. Now I need to find a new read (that will probably also take me 3 months to finish!).

Watched:

Adam and I watched ‘The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel’ on Virgin. I’d seen it before, but it still made me laugh and definitely makes me want to travel to India, somewhere I’ve never been before. It sounds silly but I think seeing people in their twilight years taking the plunge and trying something new is so inspiring- I hope I’m still travelling when I’m that age!

Wore:

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Sorry about the moody/posy face here! I was lucky enough to be sent a fab hat by ‘Lines and Current’, a fab accessories brand based in Northern Ireland. It’s super-comfy, and a soft, light spring/summer alternative for ‘hat hair’ rather than a thick, woolly bobble hat. What’s also fab is that ‘Lines and Current’ donates 10% of the profits to good causes, and this month they are helping ‘Standbyme’, a charity that rescues children in crisis all over the world, including the recent Nepal earthquake. 

I’ve also managed to bare my pasty white slabs of meat AKA my feet, and get the old Birks on! They’re definitely in need of a tan, although a good coat of nail polish definitely perks things up a bit in the old trotter department!

Heard:

I was listening to the radio the other day, when the presenter announced that Maximo Park would be realising tickets today to celebrate 10 years of their debut album, ‘A Certain Trigger’, which immediately made me feel OLD. How can it be 10 years since I was dancing to this album at house parties as a student in Leeds?! Either way, I’ve been listening to it this week and reminiscing, and I’m really going to try my luck and get some tickets if the website doesn’t crash- I’ll let you know how I get on! It’s one of my favourite ever albums, and every song is so catchy.

Made:

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Sasha’s 3rd Birthday cake- a Frozen one as requested! The icing on the outside turned out much bluer than I expected, but she seemed pleased with it so I’ll take that as a small baking victory! I enjoy baking so much, but I don’t think I’ll ever be a neat, or precise baker, it all seems to go a bit wonky! Made with love though :-) 

…and lastly

We’re off to meet a lady on Saturday who will be designing our wedding rings for us, as well as meeting our photographer for brunch. We haven’t actually met him before (he’s a friend of a friend) so I’m hoping we get on well and we’re on the same page when it comes to photos (looking at his website, I’m sure we will be!).

Hope everyone has a lovely (non-rainy) weekend!

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Linking up with Morgana and her #LittleLoves :-)

My Captured Moment #1

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‘My Captured Moment’ is something I’ve wanted to join in for a while. I’ve got so many photos of the children from when they were babies/toddlers that i’d have loved to share, but since I only started blogging less than two years ago, I missed out on doing so! This is the perfect opportunity to have a bit of a #tbt right here on my blog!

This snapshot is from January 2013, when Freddie was 23 months, and Sasha 8 months. I remember that the weather was terrible, and so I’d built them a den under our kitchen table to play in. Freddie was piling all his toys and books in there, and trying to give them all to Sasha, who didn’t really understand his ‘game’, but was more than happy to oblige in taking things! Even now, dens never seem to get boring. and are great for hiding under drinking gin after a bad day.

PS Look at how S is such a chunky monkey here! This was just before she’d learnt to crawl properly, and you forget how much they chub up before they get moving!

 

Running in Lavender

Linking up with Heledd and ‘My Captured Moment’!

Introducing: Willow London

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My name is Becky, and I’m a children’s fashion addict *raises hand*. 

So when London-based Children’s clothing company, Willow London, wanted Sasha to sample some of their clothing range, I we jumped at the chance! 

Willow London is the perfect example of just what can arise from a few neighbourly cuppas.

Like many other mums, friends and neighbours, Rebecca and Jo both found that by having children, they learnt a lot about themselves. It forced them to think about who they were and what they were doing. And it gave them courage to start something new. They agreed to work together on a new venture making and selling girls’ clothing just last year.

The brainchild of Rebecca, she says “I am passionate about design and really wanted to do something I believe in.” Jo adds “I loved the concept that it’s the little things that can make a difference, to the environment, to your day, or to your little girls’ day, and it takes me back to some of my ideals as a 16 year-old. Beautiful things can make people happy, so let’s create something beautiful.

It’s as simple as that, and what beautiful clothes they make too!

Rebecca had noticed there was a gap in the market for children’s clothing using organic cotton, but handmade in the UK. It was also about creating something they would want their little girls to wear; less frilly pinks, more bold prints, and classic easy-to-wear cuts. All with an environmental responsibility.

On the inaugural skirt, Autumn Leaves, they consciously decided to launch with the one skirt design. “Who doesn’t love their girl in a classic full skirt?” asked Jo. It is fully lined in soft, organic cotton, with elasticated waist at the back, and enough volume for running through the park, or dancing at the next party. Of course, the fabric design fits perfectly with this season. The focus is on quality, local, and hand-made, not mass production and an overload of choices.

The name itself, Willow London, is taken from the county flower of London, Rosebay Willowherb. They are true to their urban roots, based in Crystal Palace, South East London. “Our brand, the photos we choose, and our sense of community, all ties to the local area” says Rebecca. “We source fabrics that excite us, and the rest is all done by hand right here in Crystal Palace.”

They are truly excited, and honestly, a little daunted, about launching their new project. As mums themselves, it hasn’t come without challenges. Rebecca can frequently be found in Willow Cabin, working on the next item, whilst simultaneously entertaining her 4 year old and 1 year old. And Jo has worked regularly during her toddlers’ nap time, while simultaneously breastfeeding her 3 month old. “But, we want to prove that we can do it!” says Rebecca.

And do it they have!

Willow London make their gorgeous clothes to-order, which means that you can really personalise your garment. Rebecca and Jo call their system ‘Willow your way’. First up, you choose your garment from the range (lined skirt, pinafore, summer top/dress, sundress, beach trousers, baby trousers or dribble bib). Next, you choose what fabric you’d like it made up in, with beautiful swatches of all their fabrics on the website. Finally, you can choose to embellish with an applique or trim for a small additional cost. There are lots of themes to choose from, such as happy showers, arrows, beach huts and ladybirds, or Rebecca and Jo can do letters or numbers to make it really personal. Also, if you email with a special idea they will try to help! 

Perfect for those who like a bit of individuality! 

Sasha’s skirt was perfectly sized, with great-quality material used, and I can vouch that the elasticated waistband is super-comfy, with no uncomfortable seems or labels poking through, something so important for sensitive skin. 

S loved it so much, we had a bit of fight getting it off her that evening for bathtime- always a sign that something’s been a fashion hit with this 3 year old!

To find out more about Willow London, visit www.willow-london.co.uk