Eternity Rose

Photo by Oana Dascalul

Soon, there won’t be any getting away from it… Christmas is on the way and coming fast. Everyone’s going to be on the lookout for the best gifts to give. If you have a loved one to think of and have no idea what to buy, take a look at the Eternity Rose as an option…

When I lived in Italy there was (and still is) an artist who lived in the town called Maestro Paolo, an eccentric guy – as most artists are, who was always coming up with really good ideas. He’d build wooden huts throughout the village and fill them with interesting things to look at and the tourists would stop in awe as they walked the cobbled streets. He’d organise really fun town carnivals and when you walked past his jewellery shop you could see birds flying around and baby rabbits in the window chomping on fresh grass and carrots. (I must add no harm was ever done and he would take the utmost care of them.) But there was one idea of his that I simply fell in love with – silver handmade roses.

They were beautiful to look at and looked as delicate as a real rose. A tall stem with a couple of leaves and a fresh rosebud at the top just starting to open. I admired them so much, I decided to buy one for my mum to remind her how much I loved her. Living so far apart was difficult for us both and this would be a constant reminder of my love for her.

I also bought one for a very good friend of mine for a special birthday, I thought the silver rose would live on whereas real flowers would soon pass and be forgotten.

When Eternity Rose got in touch and asked me if I would like to review one I accepted, simply because it reminded me of that special gift and that special time in Italy. They make them in gold too but I went for the silver as a reminder of Mastro Paolo’s roses.

Eternity rose

Photo by Oana Dascalul

I must say, the rose is packaged in the most beautiful wooden box which really adds a touch of luxury to the opening of the gift. Inside the box is lined with a soft blue velvet-like fabric and the rose sits in a specially carved out space making sure no damage comes to the flower and delicate petals.

The Eternity Rose is a real rose. It has been taken at its most perfect stage and dipped in silver (or gold) It is then hung to dry and the finished product is a delicate and beautiful flower that will stand beautifully in a single stem vase.

I am very impressed. I think anyone opening this gift will love it. It is an object of beauty which is unusual and still maintains the deep meaning behind the gift of a rose. Plus it will live on for years and years.

Who would you buy an Eternity Rose for?

Disclosure: I was sent an Eternity Rose for the purpose of this post.

 

beach hut southwold

We recently had a weekend away to Suffolk and stayed the night in an Airstream glamping campsite which was a fantastic experience. We managed to get out and about and it quickly became apparent that there is a lot to see and do in Suffolk, so much so that we plan on returning as soon as we can. Whilst we were there, we picked up some great leaflets giving ideas of things to do in Suffolk so I thought I’d write them all down in preparation for our next trip.

Things to do in Suffolk

Aldeburgh

Aldeburgh shell on beach

We stopped off at Aldeburgh and walked along the beach as a swimming race was taking place. There is a fabulous sculpture of a scallop shell on the beach made by Maggi Hamblings with the words, ‘I hear those voices that will not be drowned.’

Apparently, there are two fish and chip shops in Aldeburgh both owned by the same company but everyone seems to think that one is better than the other. You can tell which because of the queue waiting outside the shop. We have to return as we didn’t manage to try the famous fish and chips.

Helmingham Hall

Helmingham Hall is a beautiful manor house surrounded by a moat dating back to 1490. It is still owned by the same family, the Tollemache’s and Lady Xa Tollemache is a renowned gardener having won many medals at the Chelsea Flower Show, in fact, people come here to visit the gardens as much as they do the historical building.

Framlingham Castle

Famous for being the base from which Mary Tudor rallied her troops and set off to claim the throne in London. Framlingham Castle is part of the English Heritage and offers a great family day out. Walk the walls, visit the workshop, the cafe and of course the shop plus picking up a lot of history on your way. It is said that a walk around the walls of the castle offers some of the best views to be had in Suffolk.

Thorpness

house in the clouds

We visited and walked around the quiet seaside village. We walked as far as The House in the Clouds, a famous building for its tall structure and seemingly house in the sky. Opposite was an old windmill that featured in the CBeebies programme, Grandpa in my pocket. We walked around the pretty boating lake but it was too cold a day for us to take a boat out so we popped into the restaurant The Kitchen and enjoyed some freshly made pizzas and a crab salad.

Southwold

under southwold pier

I was quite excited about going to Southwold as I had heard lots about it. We parked up at the pier and walked Baxter along to the end. It’s amazing as there are so many curiosities and shops to visit. The Quantum telescope, The Waterclock and the Wacky Walk of Mirrors being a few. The Under The Pier show is a must, an arcade about half way along which has some completely mad machines.

southwold pier

Lavenham

Known as England’s best kept medieval village, Lavenham is chocolate-box pretty with half-timbered merchant’s houses, winding streets, a 15th century church and a long list of listed buildings including the 800 year old Swan Hotel. Lavenham’s more recent claim to fame is being the village where Harry Potter was born. Lavenham was used as Godric’s Hollow in the filming of The Deathly Hallows Part 1 and Part 2.

Visit a brewery

Of course! Suffolk is the home to Greene King, Adnams and Aspall plus a range of smaller breweries too. the most picturesque possibly being St Peter’s Brewery in South Elmham. I have to go back just to buy some Adnams gin.

The list of things to do in Suffolk is infinite and one place to look for more inspiration is on the Visit Suffolk website where they give a list of 50 things to do in Suffolk!

Where to stay in Suffolk

There is a wonderful range of places to stay in the county, take a look at Suffolk Secrets who have all kinds of accommodation from contemporary through to rustic cottages and many of the properties are pet-friendly too. Whether it’s a couples retreat or a big family reunion there is something for everyone.

This is a collaborative post.

Things to do in suffolk pin

Is there someone in your life who is difficult to buy for?

Are you always on the lookout for a new recipe book, something a little bit different from the usual?

Have you been thinking about reducing the amount of meat you eat, maybe even stepping into the world of vegetarians but you’re not quite sure how to start?

I have three cook books to show you that can tick all of those boxes, not only will they amplify your recipe base but also will make the most wonderful gifts. We are talking about the Soulful Baker by Julie Jones, The Flexible Vegetarian by Jo Pratt and Cook Yourself Happy by Caroline Fleming.

Soulful Baker

cook books

Probably one of the most beautiful books you will see on the shelf this autumn. The Soulful Baker is a delight to look through searching for that special sweet recipe. This book truly was a labour of love as Julie Jones put it together when her mother, who taught her to cook, was diagnosed with dementia. They would spend time baking together and Julie started an Instagram feed which then led to this book.

The astonishing beauty of her creations will take your breath away and the method is written in such an easy format that your creations cannot fail.

I have been flicking through trying to decide which recipe to try first but there are so many good ones to choose from, I can’t wait to get started.

For me, baking has always been associated with emotion. Those precious hours set aside to unwind and spend quality time preparing something with love and care. I was first introduced to baking when I was very small, stood upon a stool working alongside my Mother, her oversized apron folded in half and tied around my waist. I often think of her encouraging instructions and advice with affection, ‘beat really fast – otherwise the batter will curdle’. No fancy or expensive equipment was used then, just a big ceramic bowl and a wooden spoon. Such happy days. Days I recreate with my own children now. — Julie Jones

The Flexible Vegetarian

cook books the flexible vegetarian

The more I look around me, the more vegetarians I see and when I weigh up how much meat we consume I want to start reducing the quantity but not losing out on wholesome tasty meals. I have a few of Jo Pratt’s books, like In the Mood for Entertaining and Healthy Eating. I even met and cooked with Jo last year at a work event which was a wonderful experience plus I got to see first-hand just how clever her recipes are. Clever but simple, tasty and healthy.

cook books The Flexible Vegetarian

The Flexible Vegetarian is filled with delicious and practical recipes for every lifestyle and if you do have a stubborn meat eater to cook for the recipes offer a neat solution – just add meat or fish as they can be served either way.

There is a huge variety of ingredients that I have never cooked with before but aren’t difficult to find, so I am looking forward to trying my hand at some and venturing into a whole new culinary world.

Cook Yourself Happy

cook books

Have you heard of Hygge? I have a whole Pinterest board on it. It’s not so easy to translate as it refers to a state of mind, a sense of being rather than an object. Hygge is all about cosy, wholesome lifestyle and I think Cook Yourself Happy The Danish Way falls into this sense of being.

Caroline Fleming draws on old family recipes that boost your wellbeing both inside and out. Warm smoked salmon with pickled cucumber, fried pork belly and baked apples with marzipan are amongst some of the favourites but as she says herself, “Cooking and the results are (for me) ‘love’ that you can taste, smell and touch – all a big part, I think, of making us the happiest people.” See more of Caroline on her Instagram @carolineflemingofficial

Disclosure: I was sent a copy of each book for the purpose of this review.

Happy Days Retro Vacations

Last weekend we packed our bags, jumped in the car and drove up to Suffolk to a small town called Saxmundham. Just outside the town is a small campsite run by Jenni and Kevin who set up there about three years ago after transferring from Dorset. But it’s not just any campsite, it’s an airstream glamping park and as you pull on the breaks and turn to look at the field, you are greeted by a spectacular sight of 6 beautiful airstreams, carefully brought back to their original glory, standing peacefully in the park, waiting to give you a weekend break like you’ve never experienced before.

At this point, I can hear Jenni entering the conversation and reminding me that one of the trailers is actually an Avion.

These guys are super passionate about what they do and how they do it. They spend months searching the internet for airstreams for sale. They buy them, import them from the States and drive them from Southampton, where they arrive on a ship, up to the quiet Suffolk countryside.

Happy Days Airstream

But they’re not just any Airstream offered up for hire. No, they are all furnished and decorated as closely as possible to the original state, lending a marvellous vintage air to them. On top of that, each trailer is named and the names are delightful – Betsy, Dee Dee, Nettie and Gloria are some examples. You will even hear Jenni referring to her airstreams as ‘she’.

We were incredibly lucky to be invited up for a weekend break at Happy Days Retro Vacations to try out the experience for ourselves, as a family and we were allowed to bring Baxter with us as a few of the Airstreams are dog friendly.

Airstream galmping

Inside an Airstream

We were given Dee Dee for our stay who is one of the first trailers you pass in the field. Standing brightly with a wooden table outside she looks really inviting. I really liked that the area in front of the Airstream was artificial grass, what a great idea as it saved a lot of mud being dragged in but was still in keeping with the field. We also had some colourful outdoor chairs to relax in too dotted around our pitch and flamingos too.

Airstream living area

The door opens into the living area with a table to the right, the kitchen sink and hob/oven in front and the fridge to the left as you climb the steps. The shelf over the fridge has a TV (for watching DVDs as there is no television connection) and a radio. Parents will be pleased to know that the WiFi connection is very hit and miss, we really embraced this as the girls were off out exploring from the word go but more about that later.

Airstream bedroom

As you turn left into the airstream, straight after the kitchenette you enter the bedroom with a single bed on either side of the walkway which leads down to the bathroom. The bathroom has a portable toilet, a shower, a sink and a cupboard for storage.

Airstream kitchen

Each window has beautiful handmade curtains to make a cosy evening and shut out the light. The table has a PVC cloth and the benches are covered in cushions in wonderful retro prints.

It Is Gorgeous.

As you settle in to your vintage Airstream, you find all sorts of delightful surprises that make you smile and from the word go I can guarantee a happy-go-lucky feel about your weekend (or longer) stay.

Once the children were in bed, we sat and chatted a while before turning the table area into a comfortable double bed. You simply remove the table top which slots across the two benches on either side and store the leg under the bed. The cushions all go into making the mattress – and it was very comfortable indeed.

You can either take your own bed linen or hire it from Jenni.

Bathrooms

Happy Days Retro vacations

Don’t panic there are some very accommodating bathrooms onsite, not gender specific and also large enough to get the family in. Heated, spacious and beautifully decorated too. Definitely shower here rather than in the Airstream!

Entertainment at Happy Days Retro Seaside Glamping Holidays

You may be thinking, ‘What will we do in the middle of nowhere?’ and to that my first reply is, “Relax!” You are in the midst of nature at its best, surrounded by a peace that can only do you the world of good. Take the time to recharge and treasure the moment.

However, Jenni and Kevin have also put a lot of thought entertaining all members of the family.

Airstream glamping

There is a wonderful park with a ‘secret garden’ kind of entrance that leads to an old army truck which our kids loved playing on. A trampoline and a wonderful area of grass, fields and trees, all hedged in so the children can play safely until their heart’s content. We came home with a bag of apples and pears!

Reception is in a furnished shed and has games, DVDs and a jar of sticks for marshmallows too. There are books, leaflets to take away and plenty of ideas to keep you amused.

Then there is the Red Shed. The Red Shed is a place that can be used for parties, there are sofas to sit on and a dance floor. There is a DJ booth in the corner and a glitter ball. Kevin will be installing a fire this autumn so it can be used in the colder months too.

Jenni told me that the whole park can be hired out for special celebrations, birthdays, hen parties, anniversaries. I agree it would make a wicked venue for a family get together.

Happy Days polytunnel

There is also a polytunnel which the previous owners had used as a greenhouse. If we were looking for the twins they were in the polytunnel playing table football! There was also a super-sized Connect 4 game and a table with lots of chairs. Oh and another glitter ball, why not?

fire pit

Lastly, I must mention the firepit and marshmallows. As sun falls and dinner has been served, Kevin did a round of the Airstreams taking huge buckets of wood and firelighters to his guests. Using an old washing machine drum which works perfectly as a firepit, we lit a fire, pulled some wonderful hand crocheted blankets around us and whilst we toasted our marshmallows (on the sticks found in reception) we looked up and saw a sky full of stars. I managed to point out the plough but I soon realised it was the only formation I knew!

Places to visit close to Happy Days Retro Park

There is plenty to see in this part of the world and both Kevin and Jenni are full of top tips to pass on. We went to visit Southwold which was lovely. We walked along the pier and beach. We stopped off at a pub on our way back to Happy Days called The White Heart, also home to the  Famer and Fisherman restaurant which had a delicious menu. We weren’t there for food but we tried a couple of the local Adnams beers – I spotted that Adnams also do gin but failed to find some to buy. We sat in the pub garden where the girls fed the ducks and walked alongside the lake picking wild blackberries.

On the Sunday we visited Thorpness and walked to The House in the Clouds and spotted the windmill from Grandpa In My Pocket tv programme. We also visited Aldeburgh where apparently there are two marvellous fish and chip shops which we are going to have to go back and try as we got hungry in Thorpeness and went into the Kitchen where Paul and the girls had a homemade pizza and I had a fresh crab salad.

Airstream Dee Dee

Local shops

Each Airstream has tea, coffee and sugar but if you do want to shop for food and other bits there is a Tesco and a Waitrose in Saxmundham. A five minute drive away.

I’m not sure if you understand just how much I enjoyed our weekend at Happy Days  Retro Vacations? I am hoping my enthusiasm is coming over through my post because it was one of the nicest experiences I have had this year. I would thoroughly recommend it and the girls arrived home asking if we could go back again.

Thank you, Jenni and Kevin, for a very special experience.

Disclosure: We were weekend guests of Happy Days Retro Vacations for the purpose of this review. All opinions are my own.

lunchbox jelly pots

Two weeks under the belt of the Back to School routine and we seem to be doing fairly well…so far so good I’d say. We lost a cardigan but quickly retrieved it, we even found last term’s water bottle in the lost property whilst hunting it down! #winwin

As far as lunch is concerned, this term we have decided on 5 days a week lunchbox meals; the girls seem to think they get a longer lunch and they are constantly asking me to put less in as they don’t want to ‘waste all their time‘ eating.

Lunchboxes are a saviour but also a bit of a headache trying to keep them nutritious with food you know will be eaten.

Hartley’s have come up with an excellent idea – a wibbly, wobbly jelly in a cute little pot, perfectly sized for lunchboxes!

As previously mentioned, the girls are in that awkward stage between being little girls and big girls. A kind of no man’s land where they are trying their best to be grown up but there is a huge secret part of them that actually likes still being young. Like when we walk past a Build A Bear store for example.

Jelly, however, has no age limitations – ask Dad!

That means I can easily add a jelly pot to the lunchbox knowing they won’t be ridiculed at school, actually they may even get some street cred, I mean jelly is associated with the best parties, right?

hartleys jelly pot

The jelly pots come in six flavours, strawberry, raspberry, blackcurrant, orange, apple and tropical.

They have no added sugar in them, all of the sugar is naturally occurring and no artificial colours or flavours have been added. They are also perfect for vegetarians too.

 

Hartley’s are giving away the bright yellow lunchboxes, all you need to do is collect 12 Jelly pot lids and fill in the online form. A Hartley’s lunchbox will be on its way to you and let’s face it, it won’t take too much time to collect 12 lids, will it?

Disclosure: This is a collaborative post with Hartley’s who are promoting their no added sugar jelly pots for lunchboxes. All opinions are my own.