Friday, 29 March 2013

Flashback Friday - Vintage Butlins

As two of my blogging buddies Lauren and The Boy and Me are away at Butlins, Bognor Regis at the moment it got me reminscing about the times  I've been there and how much I love it. Ive blogged about it before, - my hen weekend,  and some of the best weekends I've ever had but my love affair with the place started way back in the 80's when it was then known as 'Southcoast World'

 It was 1987 and my friend and I were old enough to go off by ourselves around the resort which is probably the main factor in my long standing love affair with the place, it offered a sudden and amazing freedom as we chose where we wanted to go and what we wanted to do, a feeling that was similar in some ways with the adult weekends we went on in recent years.

There was so much choice, we spent hours in the funfair, messing about on the boating lake trying not to drop our oars overboard  (I believe the lake now has a hotel on it - I was quite sad to see it was covered over the last time I was there).  We loved the arcades, especially the 2p machines and got so excited to get  huge win, 50p makes a really satisfying clatter when it comes out in coppers!

Best of all was the 'Waterworld', we were in there every single day. The waves were amazing fun, and quite a new idea then for a swimming pool,  the flumes (but not the black one, that was too scary!) and  our favourite - the big white slide.
big white slide Butlins Splash waterworld
That's us holding hands coming down the slide!
The outdoor pool was great too, although it was obviously freezing, there was a big wooden house and a pirate ship I believe by the side of the pool and lots of waterfalls and cannons to play with.

I remember laying in that, we stayed there for ages as the water was much warmer in there!
The evening were always great too as it was so exciting to go out EVERY night! What is now Centre Stage was then called the Ocean View Ballroom and I used to love the shows, especially the Redcoat shows and all the party dances. I think we may have drank a lot of blue slush puppies there too!

Obviously it's all changed so much now but even the last time I was there in 2006 you could still the old one underneath the shiny modern resort.  The accommodation I remember being great at the time but it looks nothing compared to the posh hotels they've got now!  After our adult weekends I remember saying that if I ever had kids I didn't think I'd take them back as it would be strange after the brilliant but not at all family friendly weekends we'd had but from looking again and remembering the fun I had as a child there I can hardly imagine anywhere better!

Linking to Flashback Friday

Thursday, 28 March 2013

Party planning fun

I've always been a party girl, loved any excuse to get dressed up, have a drink or three and dance until my feet hurt but it's not just the party bit that's the fun part for me, I love every aspect of the planning and the run up to it as well.

Nowadays, it's all about the kids and that involves less debates over which outfit to wear, who's going to be there and less alcohol and instead it's all about the cake, the games, the party bags and decorations! I have great memories of my birthday parties as a child, and loved the excitement of the weeks leading up to it, from writing the invites and choosing the theme, although I think I had the same theme (Care bears) for several years in a row! From pass the parcel, to musical chairs and helping to fill party bags I loved every bit of it and I hope my boys will enjoy all their birthday parties as much as I did.

This year for the first time Leo is on a proper countdown to his birthday which is in May, most of his friends are now four and he is now fed up with being three years old!

Last year there was no debate over a theme to choose for his party, it could not have been anything but a Thomas the Tank Engine party. I got Leo involved with the preparations, and in the week before we made a red and blue train banner and train shaped cookies together.  My Mum helped as well making a train for the buffet table among other bits and pieces.

This year I was initally stuck for a good theme that he would really appreciate as his favourite thing was still Thomas and I was trying to decide before my recent trip to the UK in case I saw any party stuff to buy. My first thought was a 'Mike the Knight' theme as that sounded quite cool but he started asking for a Buzz Lightyear party.

That was before the sudden love of Spiderman developed, this was quite a surprise for me as he'd never seen Spiderman but all the kids have gone mad for him! It comes from school and its all he talks about at the moment (although I'm pleased we still haven't left Thomas behind yet).  I can't say I'm enjoying the Spiderman craze that much as it involves me being 'webbed' constantly but after a quick search on Pinterest I've decided it's actually a really cool party theme!

Image credit
I like to have a party or an event coming up to think about and plan for, as those who know me will confirm, as soon as something has happened I can't help but plan for the next one, I've even got a theme in mind for Louka's birthday in August!

I’ve had many types of jobs over the years but I’m starting to think that party planning would be ideal for me, after all there are so many options but only so many parties you can have yourself!

Sunday, 24 March 2013

Cyprus in crisis

You may have noticed that Cyprus has been making the world news recently which is very unusual for our little island. You may have also noticed that I've not commented on the situation at all, something which is unusual for a blogger!

The reason for this is simple,  I basically have no idea what is going on, and certainly don't know enough about the situation to explain it or even comment on it publicly. There are many many sites out there with stories on the crisis - so if you want the actual facts then google is your friend, just don't expect to hear simple and correct information.

I've never heard so many rumours and scaremongering in my life, I appreciate the island is in huge difficulties and it's a serious situation affecting thousands of people and as yet no one really knows how it all will pan out but from reading some of the news reports you'd think the world was actually ending right now!

Since the announcement last week that there would be a levy on all bank accounts of 6.75% for those with a balance of up to €100,00 and a 10% levy on accounts with over €100,000 the banks have been closed, and will remain closed at least until Tuesday next week. Cash points have remained open, although are sometimes empty and as far as I have found cards have still been accepted in shops.

Life as I see it at least is continuing pretty much as normal as we wait to see what will happen. I think it has now been announced that the levy will be only on accounts with more than €100,000 athough the news changes so much I can't even begin to keep up!

Reading in the English press and online, apparently residents are 'storming the supermarkets' stocking up on all they can before the money runs out,  ATMs are all empty, petrol stations are going to be closing and the British government are making plans to rescue 'stranded British expats'  Apparently the island is in chaos and we are all doomed!

There is an interesting split between residents here, those who are consumed with reading (and believing) every rumour and update online and those who are concerned but optimistic it will work out eventually, I'm with them  I have no idea what will happen and how things will be eventually fixed but I am fairly sure that ONE day however long it takes, they will be and the world will not end here and now. Cyprus has got over worse in her history

Saturday, 23 March 2013

365 Project - Week 12

                 Sunday and Monday were great fun as it was Carnival followed by Green Monday

                  Louka trying spaghetti for the first time, he looked confused then laughed at it!

I love seeing the boys starting to play together, Leo is generally very good although sometimes he forgets to share!

On Thursday I met Jaxon, my friends new baby - he's so gorgeous and tiny!   (He's not tiny - he's a real good weight but I can't believe how quickly I could have forgotten how small they are!) 

Another photo of Louka in his highchair! 
Today was his first banana, he had lots of fun mushing that about!

Another first for Louka today, he went in his new car seat for the first time.  Leo didn't want his photo taken hence the sulky face.  He was also unimpressed that I have to put Louka in first now as before I used to place his car seat on the floor while I strapped Leo in, he seems to be ok now I've explained it means he's a big boy and because he's nearly 4 he is old enough to let Louka in first!

TheBoyandMe's 365 Linky

Friday, 22 March 2013

Louka at 6 months

Today I went to visit my friend Sam who gave birth to her second baby on Monday,  I had a cuddle with the gorgeous little Jaxon and could not help but marvel how small he is, although weighing slightly less than Louka did it seemed to me that surely Louka could never have been that small!

How could I have forgotten already, he's only just over 6 months old!

Surely this was only yesterday?

He's growing so fast, now sitting up, rolling all over the place, grabbing everything and anything he can get his hands on to shove in his mouth and has the most infectious laugh ever. 

Now, at less than 7 months, we've changed his car seat - I don't make small babies and unfortunately that means they grow out of everything usually too early. 

I took a photo of his last outing in the original and couldn't help but compare it to the first time he was in it...

Linking up to Flashback Friday, hosted by Lauren and Jenny

Wednesday, 20 March 2013

Carnival and Green Monday in Cyprus

Every year one of the highlights of the Cypriot calendar is Carnival time,  dating back to Ancient Greek times celebrations were held in honour of the God Dionysus and in Cyprus Carnival is associated with the beginning of the fasting leading up to Easter.  Celebrations  run 10 days up to the final big parades on the Sunday before 'Green Monday' - the start of lent, 40 days before Orthodox Easter.

The biggest celebrations on the island are held in Limassol but our local town also has a carnival, we went last year  but Leo was still a little young to appreciate it. This year I took him again all proudly dressed as Spiderman and I had intended to find a spot just outside of the main square to watch the parade, however I changed my mind when I realised we'd be able to tag along with some friends of ours and actually walk in the parade too!

Leo was a bit bemused at first as there was so many people ('Wow Mama, so many people come to see us'!)  and it was quite loud with the music blaring out all the way and there were so many streamers and silly string flying about!   But most of the time he had a huge smile on his face as we danced down the road.

When we got to the end there was a very conveniently parked ice cream van so we had the first one of the season sitting on a wall whilst watching the rest of the parade come in behind us.

After all the partying on the Sunday, comes the family day of Green Monday - a day where traditionally families gather for picnics (meat free of course) and usually kite flying.  Instead we opted to go to a family fun day at a local pub which was raising money for local charity Golden Hearts.

The weather was gorgeous and I was hugely unprepared for it by dressing Leo in a long sleeve top, and not even thinking about suncream or a hat for Louka, my friend came to the resuce with suncream, a different top for Leo and Louka borrowed her sons hat.... her son who is 4!

We spent the whole afternoon there with friends, sitting in the sun while the kids played on the bouncy castle for hours! As with most events in Cyprus it could have done with a few more stalls ( I can never understand why more people don't go along to these things) and I was a bit surprised there weren't a few more games for the kids but it probably saved us money by there not being any!

There was a really good turn out of people though and it was nice as there was a group of us there so is was a great social afternoon.  Everyone seemed to be enjoying themselves and hopefully they raised a lot of money for a good cause too.

Cyprus Green Monday 2013

Country Kids from Coombe Mill Family Farm Holidays Cornwall

Saturday, 16 March 2013

365 Project - Week 11

My lovely boys on Mother's Day. 
Greek homework

Leo is now getting 'homework'. They choose a book each week to take home and read, then to draw a picture or something relating to it.  I'm helping him as much a I can but they are REALLY hard to read!

Having a go on the see-saw together in the park opposite school, every day he wants to play before we go home, we do usually stop for a quick play!

This is the cute little face I woke up to on Wednesday, it was probably the first time he has woken up happy and it had been possibly the best nights sleep he's ever had!

Agia Napa - Protaras beach path walk

We had a lovely afternoon on Thursday in the sunshine when we went for a walk along a stretch of the beach path we've not explored before.

It's not the best photo ever as he wouldn't keep still, but Leo was so very happy to get a Spiderman costume yesterday. He has been saying he would like one for ages and every day has asked us to go to the 'Spiderman costume shop'! This weekend in Cyprus is Carnival weekend so the fact that everyone is dressing up wasn't helping!

Today I took the boys to my friends house for her daughters 1st birthday party. We had a lovely time and both boys were brilliant. I realised while I was there that I was the Mum of the eldest and youngest children there which was strange, Leo was as good a gold with the younger ones and even though he got annoyed once when one of them wandered off with a toy he was playing with he didn't argue - I guess he must have understood they age difference as usually all hell would break loose!

Louka was great too, and had his first go on a rocking toy!

TheBoyandMe's 365 Linky

Friday, 15 March 2013

A spring time walk

This week we have had several days of gorgeous weather, spring arrived suddenly and t-shirts and flip flops made a re-appearance.  The summer season starts in just a couple of weeks and I've noticed people starting to get excited about it.  Of course for us, and many people here once the summer starts in April life changes as people go back to work for the season so now is a good time to get out and about to do things together.

On Thursday we went for a walk and picnic after school on the Agia Napa - Protaras beach path, a section we've never walked before.

Agia Napa to Protaras beach path

Not being able to resist a deserted beach Leo and I had a walk on the sand too, but as we weren't really prepared for a beach trip he ended up in his pants while I rolled up my trousers and tried to explain why I was not taking mine off too!

I tried to get some nice photos of Leo but he was mainly running ahead so it wasn't too successful!

It was a lovely afternoon, gorgeous views, lovely warm weather (I think it was 28deg at one point) and   a great family afternoon.

Country Kids from Coombe Mill Family Farm Holidays Cornwall

Simple Sand Dough

A while ago I saw this great alternative play dough over on MumCentral.  It looked easy enough to make and even better a nice cheap activity! We collected some sand on our recent beach trip and we had the other ingredients in the cupboard already.
You need:
3 cups of sand
3/4 cup water
2 cups of flour (I found we needed more at the end as it was a bit too sticky)
1/2 tablespoon white glue

How to make it -

Mix the flour and water to form a sticky dough,

Add the sand gradually, ( at this point I gave up trying to mix it and just tipped it all out and kneaded it together.  I then realised it might have been better to make it outside as I covered my kitchen in sand!)

Mix in the glue (I made a dip in the dough and just kneaded it through)  and knead until the dough becomes the texture of rough feeling playdough.

Leo loved the playdough and spent much longer playing with it than he has with any other playdough before, not only that but he was quite happy playing with it on his own for the first time.   Maybe because I let him choose toys to play with in it rather than giving him a rolling pin and cutters, maybe because he was outside, who knows!

Update - we played with the dough for three days in a row, with me just needing to add a little more flour each day as it went a bit sticky overnight.   We then left it in a tupperware box for several days before opening it again today and it had expanded, pushed the lid off slightly, went rock hard where it was exposed to the air and smelt awful! But I'd still say it was worth it for the time we spent together making it and then playing!

Wednesday, 13 March 2013

The Gallery. C is for....

This week's Gallery prompt is The Letter C.   

It was fairly obvious which C I was going to use, I did think for a while but it HAD to be Cyprus really! but the problem was choosing the photo as I have hundreds! I decided to narrow it down by picking something in Cyprus beginning with C.

So, here's Cape Greco  (It's actually Kavo Greko, in Greek but most of the English signs say Cape, and that starts with C!) 

Cape Greco sea views

I love Cape Greco, its one place we have taken every single visitor to.  Cape Greco is the headland between Agia Napa and Protaras and is the eastern most point of Europe (the Karpas peninsula would be but that is in northern Cyprus and therefore not officially recognised as being in Europe). 

I still couldn't choose just one photo, I struggled even choosing which photo to use in the collages! It's such a beautiful area you just can't help taking photos every time you go.

Cape Greko Sea Caves, Cyprus
Cape Greco sea caves
Depending on the time of year, it's also surprisingly 'green'

One thing I would love to do one day is to watch the sunset from the top, maybe we'll get round to it this year!

Tuesday, 12 March 2013

My Strawberry Cheesecake Cup Cakes

For my Mum, this mother's day I decided that Leo and I would make some cakes and I was looking for something a but different to try out so I headed straight to Jenny's blog (Mummy Mishaps) to see what unusual ideas she'd come up with recently. As you'd expect from someone who loves her cake, Jenny didn't let me down, and I decided to give her 'Strawberry Cheesecake Cupcakes' a go.

You need...

For the cakes
100g self raising flour
100g sugar
75g butter
1/4 tsp baking powder
25g cream cheese
1 egg, 1 egg yolk, 1 egg white
6 digestive biscuits made into crumbs (I used rich tea biscuits)
1 tbsp strawberry jam

For the topping
300g icing sugar
50g butter
100g cream cheese
1tbsp strawberry jam

Strawberries and more biscuit crumbs to decorate

Whisk the egg white until it forms soft peaks and set aside for later.
Mix the butter, sugar and cream cheese until creamy, then add the flour, baking powder, egg and egg yolk, mixing until all well combined.
Fold in the jam and egg white.

Place about a teaspoon of biscuit crumbs into each cake case and top with the cake mixture.
Cook for about 20 minutes (180c preheated oven)

Whilst cooking you can make the cream cheese topping - mix the butter, cream cheese and icing sugar until creamy and add the jam.
When the cakes are cooked and completely cooled pipe (or spread) the frosting onto the cakes, topping with a sprinkle of biscuit crumbs and strawberries.


Sunday, 10 March 2013

Dino Lingo - Language Learning for Kids (Review)

Regular readers will know that I am very interested in learning the Greek language and helping Leo to learn it (or having him help me which is increasingly the case now!) I've been learning Greek now via many different methods for several years now but although I always encourage Leo, I don't want to try and teach him myself as I don't wish to confuse him by not telling him things correctly.

Greek is not one of the most common languages when it comes to learning materials, and is often not one of the languages available  so I was really pleased to see that Dino Lingo - Language for kids have not left it out!

We recently received a set of Dino Lingo Greek DVDs and they have gone down very well so far.

Using the top 200 words and phrases from the chosen language Dino Lingo is a fun way to introduce your child to a second language.  Using cute dinosaur characters (which do a really funky little dance, that Leo and I both copy each time it comes on!)  and colourful animation children (and adults!) start to learn without even realising it.

At first I thought it a bit slow going, was surprised to see frequent gaps with no vocabulary being shown, and some of the animation seemed a little random but the fact that Leo has asked to see them again and again proves that I know nothing! I realised it's probably exactly this that keeps the children's interest and this method certainly works.  Although Leo is now learning Greek at school I've noticed that since watching these DVDs he's speaking a lot more and he says the words along with the TV each time.

The package is aimed at 2 - 7 year olds and I wish I'd discovered them a couple of years ago. I think they hold the most appeal for the younger children of that age range but would certainly be helpful for any child learning a language.   Even Louka at 6 months old is captivated by the colours and music.

The full home education set contains not only 5 DVDs but 150 flashcards, a vocabulary book, 10 posters, colouring book, soft toy, parents guide, a Greek flag and a CD of Greek children's songs. After seeing Leo enjoy the DVDs I would not hesitate in buying the full package, especially if he had not yet started school.   It's also not as expensive as I originally imagined, it's $159.95  which works out to about £100 at the current exchange rate - not bad considering how much it contains compared to other products I've seen.

Of course, it's not just Greek that is available  Dino Lingo comes in over 40 different languages. They ship all over the world, and currently have a 10% discount available when you type the coupon code 'Paddy' at checkout.   They also have a 30 day money back guarantee. 

To visit Dino Lingo, and see a free sample lesson head to

Greek Language learning children

I received a set of DVDs for the purpose of review but the opinions are all my own.

The Hungry Caterpillar - card craft

It's not often I come up with a creative idea that's all my own and not inspired by Pinterest or another blog post but yesterday I think Leo and I excelled ourselves!

When we started I had no plan whatsoever, only that we were going to make a card or picture for Nana for Mothers Day.  I gave Leo some 'roly paints' and some paper and let him get on with it. He stared painting a butterfly so I showed him how to paint on one side of the paper and then fold it to duplicate the pattern.

In typical Leo style he then decided he would do that but only use one colour, therefore kind of missing the point!

As pretty as an all purple butterfly was, we agreed that it should have more colours so abandoning the paints we found some shiny coloured paper to improve it. With me holding the paper, Leo cut all the bits himself and stuck them on.

He was very impressed with his 'beautiful butterfly' and said it was just like in the 'Hungry Caterpillar' book.  It was then I had the idea to make it the centre of the card and make a 'Hungry Caterpillar' for the front.

Leo got the book and told me what we needed to do to make it look the same. He decided he wanted to do the writing on it and found the sentences in the book so he could tell me which letters I needed to write for him.   I then wrote the words in pencil so he could write over them in felt tip pen.

We then stuck the pages to a card, Leo chose green as it matched the Caterpillar.   The hardest part was trying to stop Leo rushing straight to my Mums to give it to her straight away!

Saturday, 9 March 2013

365 Project - Week 10

Still the bugs lingered on, Leo still on antibiotics for his ear infection, Louka was all snotty and coughing again,  I had toothache and Aaron was still suffering from a bad cold.

 I finally got round to stopping and taking a photo of this cart that I have been driving past for ages.

I was so pleased with Leo's colouring and writing today! Just recently he's started to stay in the lines a bit more and to do things in the 'right' colours rather than scribbling over everything in black and refusing to do anything else.  He checked the spelling of 'Mummy' and then wrote that all by himself too!

A new experience today (well, new for Louka and a flashback for me!)  when Louka realised he can reach things when he's scooting around in his baby walker. I turned round to see him taking Leo's books off the shelf one by one looking at then then throwing them on the floor.   I'd love to know which one he was actually looking for!

Today, like many other bloggers my thoughts were with Jennie from Edspire as she said goodbye to her beautiful daughter.  The boys had extra big cuddles and we blew bubbles for Matilda Mae.

Creating a masterpiece, for once we did something that was totally my idea and not inspired by Pinterest!   It's top secret at the moment until tomorrow though!

Leo announced he wanted to wear his 'Fireman Sam' outfit, at 7am this morning.  As you do!  He kept it on for a couple hours then declared there were no more emergencies so he could take it off.

TheBoyandMe's 365 Linky

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