Getting involved in coastal clean-ups

8 Jan

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Devon and Cornwall have certainly taken the brunt of recent storms. Our local beaches have faced devastation, with sea walls being destroyed, beachside cafes being ruined and sandy beaches being sucked out to sea, replaced only by a bed of rocks. Waves of up to 27ft have been recorded in Lands End so it is no surprise that such destruction has been left in the storm’s path. Our coastline has been completely changed in places. Porthcothan Beach is beautiful and for as long as I can remember has had a wonderful, natural rock formation. This has been completely destroyed in the last week as you can see from these photos.

Stunning rock formation at Porthcothan, Cornwall. Photograph:Idenna

Stunning rock formation at Porthcothan, Cornwall. Photograph: Idenna

Porthcothan after the storms of 2014.

Porthcothan after the storms of 2014.  Photograph: Idenna

Also left in its wake is a mass of litter and debris which is threatening our marine life and can also be hazardous to the public. On a recent trip to Wembury beach we spotted a dead animal on the sand, and bags and bags of litter. A friend of mine has been making trips to the beach specifically to help clean up and has removed many bags of rubbish. We are going to do the same thing this weekend and will definitely be going prepared for what I think will be a massive task.

If you would like to help clean up your local beach there are organisations out there that can provide help and advice. Surfers against Sewage organise beach clean ups but will also assist you if you want to organise your own beach clean up with volunteers. Their website has lots of information including safety factsheets and advice on the types of marine litter you may find.

The Marine Conservation Society also organises beach clean ups and you can find a list of their organised events here. You can also become a volunteer with the Marine Conservation Society by becoming an organiser for your local beach.

If you would like to help clean up your local beach, you don’t need to join an organised event. You can just turn up and start work but here are a few things to keep in mind:

  • Wear warm clothes and sturdy footwear and ensure you have refreshments to hand.
  • Ensure that children are supervised at all times
  • Never remove natural debris such as driftwood or seaweed as this provides important habitats for wildlife
  • Always wear gloves and in addition to a bag for your litter you may want to carry a sharps box or similar container.
  • Report any dead animals or pollutants to the organiser of the beach clean-up, or alternatively to a local life guard who will contact the appropriate organisation.
  • If you find litter that can be directly traced to a company or organisation, this should also be reported as above.
  • DON’T touch anything that you are not sure about. This includes suspicious containers or dead marine life.
  • Most importantly be aware of the tides! Do not risk being cut off or do anything that could endanger your life. Yes, big waves are exciting and dramatic but they are also very dangerous.

Finally take a look at the Western Morning News for some of the latest storm damage images and some pretty terrifying videos!

Hotel Chocolat Christmas Review

18 Dec

I had a lovely email from Hotel Chocolat asking me if I would mind reviewing some of their chocolates. I had to think about that for ooh, about zero seconds! The answer was a resounding “yes please!” I have often found myself nose up against the window of their shop gazing in at their tempting treats. I try not to slobber all over the window….

I was given a choice of Christmas selections and could select the one I wanted. These included their signature Christmas collection which looked divine and would have been my first choice. Unfortunately these were  not gluten-free so I chose the ‘Mingles and Jingles Bag‘. I thought this would appeal to the whole family as it is like a ‘chocolate lucky dip. At this point I would like to say that all of their products are really well labelled with allergy information so if you do need to think about gluten, dairy or nuts then their website makes this much easier. It would be great if they could work on developing their range to include more options for coeliacs at some point in the future.

Mingles and Jingles

The chocolates arrived in a lovely linen bag with a sparkly Christmas design on the front. I will no doubt keep the bag and use it for something else as it is too nice to throw away.  The bag contained 3 scrummy chocolate shapes. Solid milk chocolate penguins, white chocolate Christmas bells and caramel angels. There is no doubt that these are some of the nicest chocolates I have tasted. Being a thrifty family, we don’t normally splash out on really good quality chocolates but I think I will be tempted to do this in future.  It is fair to say that you can really taste the difference with luxury chocolates. The chocolates feel thicker, creamier and the flavour lasts longer.  I normally feel that I need to keep eating and eating chocolate but with these I feel that just one will satisfy my chocolate craving which hopefully means they will last longer than a couple of days!

The children love them and they really enjoy the ‘lucky dip’ aspect of these chocolates.  My only criticism would be that we seemed to have mostly penguins in our bag and not many of the other two chocolates.

If you are still looking for a last-minute gift for that special person then I would definitely recommend paying a visit to Hotel Chocolat. They have a lovely Christmas selection but they also have a gift section on their website for every special occasion you can think of!

 

Hotel Chocolat provided with some free chocolates for review purposes. All of the honest opinions expressed in this post are my own.

Day 2 of the Center Parcs #CPGift Christmas Competition

5 Dec

As a Family Blogger with Center Parcs I am so excited for their Christmas competition! Every working day from 4th December to 19th December you can enter to win some lovely Christmas goodies and one lucky person will even get the chance to win a break at Center Parcs.  To enter you will need to follow @CenterParcsUK on Twitter. Every day for twelve working days a clip will be released by Center Parcs and you need to guess what Christmas gift the clip is referring to. The competition is an exciting glimpse of what is to come in their brand new Center Parcs advert which will be aired on television on Christmas Day.

The good news is that Center Parcs Family Bloggers like myself are going to help you out by giving you an extra ‘riddle clue’ to help you solve the clues. Today is my turn to provide you with a riddle for the prize featured on the Center Parcs competition page on Thursday 5th December.

So are you ready?  Here goes….

2 Center Parcs Christmas Riddle Clues_Green Mums Blog (1)

So do you know what it is now? Head on over to the Center Parcs website and have a look at the video clip. You can view the full terms and conditions of the competition here.

Good luck and I hope you manage to win some of the lovely Christmas goodies on offer!

prize image 3 (1)

Should new mums be bribed to breastfeed?

12 Nov
breastfeeding

Image: freedigitalphotos.net

It was announced today that new mums are going to be paid £200 in shopping vouchers if they breastfeed until their baby is 6 months old. This is going to be trialled in South Yorkshire and Derbyshire and possibly rolled out nationwide next year.

Why should mothers be financially rewarded for breastfeeding? Surely the only incentive should be the benefits that breastfeeding brings for mums and for babies? Wouldn’t it be better to spend this money educating women on these benefits and to provide better support for mothers who need help with breastfeeding? This money could be much better spent by training more breastfeeding support advisors and providing more local latch-on groups.

Surely what the NHS should be doing is making breastfeeding ‘the norm’ by working on awareness campaigns and providing more support on maternity wards where it is really needed? I had a very difficult start on my breastfeeding journey. I stayed in hospital for 2 days in order to perfect the ‘latch on’ and there was only one nurse on the ward who could really offer good advice and support. The rest of the staff were just too busy or did not seem to be interested. Money should be spent improving this support as the first few days are the most crucial on any breastfeeding journey.

Of course there are plenty of women out there who would like nothing better than to breastfeed but for one reason or another are just not able to. This can be extremely upsetting and something that they may always feel sad about. Seeing other women being thrown cash for doing something they are just not able to do will only add insult to injury and could lead to feelings of inferiority and guilt. Why should they be made to feel like this?

My main concern is the monitoring of this scheme. It seems that all mums will have to do is to tell their Health Visitor or Midwife that they are breastfeeding and they will be given these vouchers. Sorry if I sound sceptical here but REALLY??? Undoubtedly, some mums will just see this as a money-making scheme, tell a few white lies and head to the supermarket and buy formula with it. When it comes to assessing the success of this trial, of course it will show that breast feeding rates have gone up how realistic will this actually be?

Breastfeeding rates are low in this country and that definitely needs to be improved but surely the following benefits are enough to persuade mums to breastfeed? (taken from the NCT website)

Benefits for babies
Breast milk is a living fluid and every mum’s milk is tailor-made for her own baby. It contains many ingredients which help a baby stay healthy, such as antibodies to fight germs and hormones that help your baby’s development.
Babies who are breastfed are less likely to have ear or urine infections or get stomach bugs or chest infections.
Babies who are breastfed are less likely to become overweight children.
If your family has allergies, your baby is less likely to get eczema or a wheezy chest if they are breastfed.
Fewer babies who are breastfed get diabetes in childhood.
Premature babies who receive breast milk have a lower risk of necrotizing enterocolitis (a potentially dangerous bowel disorder).

Benefits for mums

Breastfeeding helps reduce the risk of developing certain types of ovarian and breast cancer.

Mums who have breastfed have a lower risk of hip fractures and diabetes when they get older.

Breastfeeding helps your uterus return to its normal size after birth.

Surely this should be incentive enough without resorting to bribery? What do you think?

Exciting news!

28 Oct

CenterParcs Family Blog Club

Eeek…. I am very excited! I have been chosen to be a Center Parcs Family Blogger! The Family Blogger Club was set up by Center Parcs to bring the excitement of Center Parcs into Bloggers homes. Following a video competition, I was chosen, alongside 11 other bloggers to experience the wonder of Center Parcs during  a FREE short break at their Longleat park. As you can imagine, I am thrilled! We had to come up with a short video, describing our favourite family activity. You can watch our video here. You can find out about all the other chosen bloggers on the Center Parcs blog

I have not been able to tell the children yet as we may not take the break until next spring. They would probably self-combust in all the excitement waiting to go! We will tell them nearer the time and I can’t wait to see their little faces.

Being a Center Parcs Family blogger also involves taking part in regular monthly challenges. Anyone can enter these which means that you too could be in with a chance of also winning a short break at Center Parcs. Just keep an eye on their blog for more details.

We have had two visits to Center Parcs in the past. Both visits have been during their Winter Wonderland in December. This is a truly magical experience, especially if you have young children that are still ‘firm believers!’ Here is our review of our Winter Wonderland visit.

I look forward to bringing you news on our family ‘challenges’ and of course reviewing our visit to Center Parcs!

Book Review: Christmas Crafts By Catherine Woram

28 Oct

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I was very kindly sent a review copy of this book which contains 35 Christmas craft projects. It is a beautiful hard-back book with 128 pages of appealing photos, tutorials and ideas. The book is split into 5 chapters:

  • Decorations,
  • Table Settings
  • Cards, Giftwrap and Labels
  • Edible Gifts
  • Crafts for Children

All of the tutorials are detailed and easy to follow and each one includes a selection of images to help you create the finished product. It includes ideas for more traditional crafts such as making paper snowflakes and felt decorations, as well as some modern, fresh ideas such as chandelier drop decorations. There are instructions for three different types of wreaths which I am definitely going to attempt. It will be great to have some decent tutorials to follow as my attempts following online instructions have turned out pretty awful to say the least!

The children have already made some of the glittery Christmas tree cards and we are going to have fun trying out the snow-globe craft in the future. I would have liked for the book to include a few more ideas using up-cycled materials but unfortunately most of the ideas involve purchasing quite a few supplies.

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I would recommend this book if you prefer to have hand-crafted Christmas decorations  and like me, you go all out to decorate during the festive season. it would also make a lovely gift for a crafty person. Here is a link to the book on Amazon. Christmas Crafts – 35 step-by-step craft projects to decorate your house the homemade way

Open Day at the Theatre Royal, Plymouth

21 Oct

Yesterday we had the exciting opportunity of exploring the newly refurbished Theatre Royal in Plymouth. The Theatre is opening its doors for FREE open days over the next couple of weeks and they have an extensive programme of events for all the family.

We love the theatre and go to shows when we can but yesterday’s visit was a chance to visit back stage and view behind the scenes of Swan Lake! We saw some beautiful costumes, props and scenery and had a chance to chat to staff about how things work ‘behind the curtains’. The children were wide-eyed as we went onto the stage and looked out at the auditorium. I wonder if they will ever be up on this stage again? Who knows…..

stage

We took part in a treasure hunt which took us all over the theatre hunting for stamps that needed collecting. Our completed sheets were handed in and will be entered into a draw to win panto tickets. We are keeping our fingers crossed for this as Robin Hood looks like it has a great cast this year.

Other activities we took part in were making masks and crowns. This was a big hit with all the children. I have never seen so many sequins and feathers, we were in our element!

masks

There was the opportunity to visit the make-up artists and have a gruesome scar to scare unsuspecting members of the public. We didn’t manage to do this as there was a big queue and we were all needing our lunch by this point. We did see lots of children with them though and they were scarily realistic.

I think the dressing up was Lily’s favourite. She was thrilled to try on a Japanese costume that had been worn during the Aladdin panto!

dressing-up

We made shadow puppets which was an activity that all the children were getting stuck into.  We brought ours home with us and already have plans to make more so that we can put on a ‘Room on the Broom’ shadow puppet show.

shadow-puppets

There were various talks throughout the day including sessions explaining how the sound and lighting worked, a Q & A session with the Theatre’s Chief Executive and also a Q & A session from the Director of Creative Learning.

Also running throughout the day were drama and dance taster sessions. We couldn’t persuade our children to join in with this but most of the children taking part were quite a bit older than our two.

All in all it was a fantastic day, we had a lovely cup of coffee in the new cafe on the ground floor. I did think it was a shame they didn’t open the restaurant as I’m sure they missed out on a lot of income from this, had it been open.

Thanks to everyone at the Theatre Royal for arranging these open days. If you would like to visit I would highly recommend it and there is another one on Saturday 2nd November.

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