Swell UK Pond Products – review post

16 Jul

A few months back I was contacted by Swell UK to ask if I would be interested in reviewing one of their products. This came at a good time for us, we had just been tearing our hair out trying to work out how to sort out our slimy, green pond! I was put in touch with their pond expert who gave us some excellent advice. he recommended trying one of their filters and gave us all the technical information we needed to be able to install this.


Our lovely new filter arrived the next day!


Before installing the filter we did give the pond a good clean and removed as much sludge as possible. We left the new water to settle for about a week before installing the filter and in this time the water had already started to go murky and horrid so I was unsure as to how much benefit we would really get from a filter.

Installation was easy (or so Green Daddy tells me!)  and he had it installed and running in no time. After running it for a few days we noticed there was a leak somewhere but couldn’t quite work out where. Again, we got in touch with their pond expert who quickly suggested a few things that we should try. It turned out that our own waterfall was the culprit so we fixed that and now all is running perfectly.

Look at how disgusting our pond was when we started! There were about 50 fish in there and you couldn’t see them at all.




It has been just two weeks since the pond has been running and you can see in the pictures below that it has made a HUGE difference!






The service from SwellUK was excellent. Everyone I had contact with was so helpful and professional. I love how they have experts on hand to give advice and their after-sales support is also brilliant.  Their prices are reasonable, I did a comparison of filter prices and they are about average with other sellers.  Their website is very easy to navigate and full of lots of useful information. I love their page about creating a wildlife garden.

I would definitely recommend SwellUK for pond products. They also have two other sites, Swell Reptiles and Swell Pets We are SO happy with our lovely, clear pond!



Disclaimer:  We were provided with a pond filter for purposes of review. All opinions are my own and are not influenced by SWellUK.

The Big Butterfly Count!

14 Jul

BBC Poster


The Big Butterfly Count is the world’s biggest survey of butterflies and is due to take place from Saturday 19th July to Sunday 10th August 2014. Taking part in the count is fun and easy and will help conservationists monitor the state of our butterfly population. It is a great fun activity to do with the children and you can do the count in your garden, at the park, in the woods or even in a school.

You can find all the information you need from the Big Butterfly Count website. you can also download a useful ID chart from this page and log your results online. You can take part in the count as many times as you like, from as many different locations as you like. You can also check out the results so far to see which butterflies have already been spotted in your area.  There is also a handy little app which allows you to record your count on the go! You can download the iphone version here

We love getting the children involved in nature and this is a great way to teach them about different species of butterflies and about how we can help Butterfly Conservation.



Buttercups and Boomerangs

25 May



Last weekend we were tackling a big project in the garden so there was not much time for anything else. We are lucky that the children still amuse themselves well in the garden, we don’t have a lot of space for them to run around but they certainly do make the most of the space that we have. At the end of the weekend we really needed to escape from the digging and pruning and decided to head out to the woods.

P1030453 P1030461 P1030469

We happened to come across the most beautiful field of buttercups and had so much fun for a couple of hours. Luckily we had taken some Boomerangs with us that our lovely Auntie Tina brought back with her from her last visit home from Australia.  Needless to say none of us could get the Boomerang to come back! If anyone knows the art of throwing a Boomerang so that is does return, I would love to know!

Lily loved make a Buttercup necklace and the husband and I enjoyed just being able to relax and watch the children having fun. It just goes to reinforce what I have always believed. Children do not need electric gadgets and games to be able to play. All they need is the space to be free!






Finding the Boomerang was sometimes a challenge!

Finding the Boomerang was sometimes a challenge!









I am linking this post up with Country Kids over at the Coombe Mill Farm Blog. We hope to visit there one day, it looks amazing and everything my children dream of!

The great outdoors – Center Parcs Challenge

24 May

Our camera is always full of photographs and I can only hope that I will eventually get around to downloading and saving them. I really need to be more organised with this so that I can find them when I need them.  I will add it to my list of things to do!

Anyway, I wanted to share these sunny shots that I took in the beginning of May. As I sit here writing this the rain is coming down like stair rods and I have my big woolly jumper on. We certainly have some changeable weather in the UK! I am linking this post up to the Center Parcs May Challenge. Entrants can win a holiday to Center Parcs by entering this challenge. Head on over to the entry page to have a look.

Apple Blossom is always a welcome sight  after a long wet winter

Apple Blossom is always a welcome sight after a long wet winter


Talking of apples ... look at this one that we spotted at Cotehele Mill!

Talking of apples … look at this one that we spotted at Cotehele


Our Wisteria has had the best blooms ever this year.

Our Wisteria has had the best blooms ever this year.


One of my favourite flowers

One of my favourite flowers


Another favourite of mine!

Another favourite of mine!





One thing I really love about late spring is that it gives us the most amazing light. Perfect for capturing those shots that we want to keep in our minds forever. This is another picture take at Cotehele, I love the light in this one and the cheeky look on my little man’s face!

Tom Tom


‘I’m a Center Parcs Family Blogger and I visited Longleat village with my family in March. You can see my review here.  If you want to enter to win a place as a wildcard winner just go to the challenge page to find out how http://bit.ly/1okzxJv

Butterfly Conservation – Special offer family membership

20 May
Brimstone Butterfly

Brimstone Butterfly

A few days ago I had a lovely email from Becky at Butterfly Conservation.  As a family we work hard to attract butterflies to our garden and we get quite excited when we spot an unusual Butterfly or Moth in our garden. Some months ago my husband came running into the house and excitedly bustled  us all outside to see a Hummingbird Hawk Moth. Unfortunately in my excitement, I forgot to take a photograph but here’s one I grabbed from their website.

Humming Bird Hawk Moth

Humming Bird Hawk Moth

The Butterfly Conservation website has lots of useful information on it. You can use it to identify Butterflies that you may have spotted and you can also find out how you can do your bit to encourage Butterflies into your garden. They also have a family fun page with lots of ideas for Butterfly themed activities.  A family membership with this charity is something that the whole family will enjoy. Every penny of your membership goes to helping preserve our Butterfly population. You can find more information about how your money is spent here. To get 25% off family membership, enter the code FAMILY25 at checkout. This is valid for the month of May only.

Family Membership includes:

-          A Junior magazine filled with information and activities

-          A ‘Let’s look for Butterflies’ sticker book

-          Butterfly and moth ID charts

-          A set of colouring pencils

There are lots of other benefits, check out their membership page for more information. Membership would also make a wonderful gift for someone so why not head over to their website and take a look?  They are also running a children’s competition at the moment. They would like children to design a T Shirt and the winning design will be printed onto T Shirts that will be sold in their online shop. More details are here



Hoburne Devon Bay Review

6 May

As a Blogger/Assessor with Approved Family Friendly, we recently visited Hoburne Devon Bay near Paignton. Hoburne already have the Approved Family Friendly Certification but this needs to be renewed every year. This is good practice as it means that providers are constantly having to maintain and improve their facilities to ensure that they can meet the requirements of this certification.

Devon Bay is perfectly located for exploring the Torbay area. There are loads of family attractions nearby, our favorite being Paignton Zoo. This is the best zoo we have ever visited although it is pretty expensive. Get there as early as you can and spend the whole day. There is loads to see and do and you will get the full benefit of your days entry. Paignton Zoo is a leading conservation and education charity so at least you know that your money is going to be well spent. Other excellent places to visit are Cockington Court,  Occombe Farm and Splashdown Water Park. Paignton Seafront is also worth a visit, it is a traditional seaside resort with colourful beach huts and a Victorian pier.  There are many walks from the Hoburne site including a 15 minute walk to Goodrington (note this one is not pram friendly).

We had a lovely day out at Cockington, including stopping for a gorgeous cream tea at Rose Cottage. This is a lovely restaurant with vast gardens and huge pond. Children are welcome to run around and have fun, ours spent ages rolling down the hill!


Rose Cottage Tearoom and Gardens


Be sure to try the scones!


I wonder how many tearooms have a nesting Moorhen?

I wonder how many tearooms have a nesting Moorhen?

There are two swimming pools on site, one indoors and one outside. Both pools were of a good size and the indoor pool also has a flume which our children loved! There is a good seating area where you can watch the rest of the family if you don’t fancy a dip yourself.


Outdoor pool, in the rain!

Outdoor pool, in the rain!

We stayed in a 3 bedroom caravan which was immaculate. It had gated decking which went around two sides of the caravan. This meant the children could safely play on the decking without us worrying about them. There is an excellent shop on site which is well stocked with everything you could possibly need.

There is a good programme of entertainment for both adults and children. We were there over Easter and the Easter Egg hunt was very popular! The park also offers two restaurants, an indoor play area, 10 pin bowling and a small games arcade. Although we didn’t use the restaurants we could see that they were both very family friendly, offering a good selection of children’s meals. One restaurant offers outdoor seating near the playground so you can enjoy sitting outside whilst still keeping an eye on the children.

The playground is excellent and with sea views directly behind it, it is a pleasure to perch yourself on a bench and watch them play as the sun goes down.


Hoburne gets a thumbs up from us,  for being family friendly and for being in a great location!

Would you like to recommend a holiday park that is family friendly? Do  leave a comment and we will check it out.


Center Parcs Challenge – Easter Nests

26 Apr



This month’s blogger challenge from Center Parcs is to create your own Easter nests. Ooh, this got my taste buds going I can tell you! Cake sprang to mind pretty quickly (as it usually does!)

There are lots of tips for making Easter nests over on their challenge page.

I decided to make some gluten-free Easter nests so that I could eat them too! We practiced making some birds nests in the garden before hand, using some grass, leaves and sticks. We talked about the kind of colour that birds nests can be and we decided that if the birds used lots of moss then the nests would be mainly green. (Thank goodness as I didn’t have any brown food colouring!)

Here is the recipe we used. It only made 7 cakes so you might want to double up on this.

4 oz butter or margarine

4 oz caster sugar

2 eggs, beaten

4 oz Doves Farm Gluten Free Flour

Butter Icing

Green Food Colouring

Chocolate Strand Sprinkles

Cadbury’s Mini Eggs


Beat sugar and butter together, gradually add the eggs and then gently mix in the flour.

I used silicone bun cases to bake these. They take 15-20 minutes at 190 degrees Celsius.

Whilst they are cooling down, add some green food colouring to your butter icing and spread this onto the cakes. Add chocolate sprinkles and mini eggs and there you have it!

If you take part in this Center Parcs challenge you could win yourself a holiday to Center Parcs!  If you want to enter to win a place as a wildcard winner just go to the challenge page to find out how.








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