Book Review: The No Nonsense Guide to Green Parenting

17 Sep book cover

book cover

We were recently sent a copy of a new book which is due to be released in October. The No-Nonsense Guide to Green Parenting is a refreshing change from some of the ‘preachy’ parenting books that we find on the shelves. The book gives ideas and inspiration for raising your child in an eco way.

It is delivered in a fun and practical way, yet is still backed up with research and ideas for further reading. It is humorous, colorful and imaginative and very easy to read. It includes information on natural play, an eco-friendly home and garden, foraging, tips to avoid screen time, making greener choices for your family and many more.

It gives ideas for small or large changes that you can make and recognises that you don’t need to implement all of them to make a difference. There are simple projects such as making bird feeders or designing a bog garden.

This book confirms that you don’t need to be perfect to be a green parent, you just need to get outside, have fun and get muddy!

book spread

Teaching children budgeting and money saving

17 Sep

At 9 and 6 years, our children are now at an age where they have some concept of ‘earning money’. We recently introduced pocket-money, in return for small jobs around the house. They help with dusting, vacuuming  and generally keeping the place tidy. It is still a struggle getting them to ‘muck in’ but the chance to earn some pennies has definitely been an incentive.

They are very good at saving their money rather than spending it. We have always tried to encourage them that it is better to save up for something special rather than spend money for the sake of it.

Budgeting is one of the many things that our children need to learn on the road to adulthood. Here are some painless ways in which we can do this.

Teach them the value of money. Talk about how much things cost, even things like holidays. Also talk about how you have to work hard for money and how you need to save just as hard to be able to pay for nice things.

Show children how to earn money. Giving them the chance to do simple chores in return for pocket-money is a good introduction. We have a poster which shows how much each job pays. They know that the bigger, more difficult jobs will pay more money.

Let them make decisions regarding their money. I say this hesitantly but they need to do this to some extent to be able to learn the consequences. If they blow all their pocket-money on sweets it is going to take them a long time to save up for that DVD that they wanted.

Have a fun place to save. Thomas has a Star Wars R2D2 Talking Moneybank
which makes noises every time you put pennies in. He loves it and every time he has money it always goes in here. You could also make your own piggy banks or decorate ready-made ones as we did.

blank pigs

Piggy Bank by Lily Age 9

Piggy Bank by Lily Age 9


Thomas' "Super Pig" design. I'm still finding glitter in the carpet!

Thomas’ “Super Pig” design. I’m still finding glitter in the carpet!

The bonus with these piggy banks is that they were decorated with bits and pieces that we had around the house. Another money-saving lesson there!



Silly Yak ready to roll, gluten free pastry

7 Sep

I just HAD to tell you about this fantastic pastry. I have always hated making gluten free pastry, it is such a difficult process – whenever I attempt it it crumbles, breaks and basically falls to pieces. I don’t really see the fun in that! So you can imagine how thrilled I was to discover Silly Yak’s ready-to-roll pastry which is available in Tescos.

ready to roll

pastie collage

It rolls really easily, no cracks or breaks and actually feels really glutinous!

I have only tried one recipe so far. Being a cornish lass it just had to be pasties. I have not had a lot of experience making them so excuse the amateur look of them. The children (who can be fairly tough food critics), told me they were amazing. We recently bought them some non-gluten free pasties from a well know pasty maker and they told me mine were far better. Now that’s a good endorsement for Silly Yak pastry if ever I heard one!

At £1.75 for a 400g block I think the pastry is a really good price. This makes a change as you normally pay a huge premium for anything labelled ‘free from’. Silly Yak say they are looking at expanding their range to other gluten free pastries so watch this space! You can see their list of stockists here.

group pasties

Hotel review: Horn of Plenty – award winning hotel in Devon

5 Sep


It is not often that we review somewhere without a couple of noisy children in tow but on this rare weekend we were child free (thank you mum!). We thought we had better make the most of it and booked a night away at The Horn of Plenty, near  Tavistock in Devon.

A beautiful, independently owned hotel, the Horn of Plenty boasts many awards on their website. Too many to mention on here but do pop over to their awards page to see for yourself. It is a 4 star hotel with two AA rosettes and a multitude of excellent reviews. Here’s another one to add to the collection.

The hotel has 16 rooms with 4 located in the main house and the remainder in the converted Coach House. We stayed in one of the Coach House rooms which are described as being more contemporary in design. Ours was certainly very modern and furnished to an excellent standard. It was a huge room and had all the little luxuries that make a visit special. Molton Brown toiletries, super soft bath robe, slippers, mini bar, very comfortable bed, TV, hot drinks etc.


Our room had a sweet little terraced area where you could sit outside and watch the sheep in the neighbouring field. We sat out here after our evening meal and watched the many bats swooping around catching their supper.


The luxurious bathroom was perfect for a long bath and the chance to indulge in a complimentary copy of Country Living Magazine.


After being given a few moments to settle in one of the staff brought us some very complimentary Panacotta. This was such a nice touch and gave the hotel a really welcoming and individual feel.


That evening we visited the fine dining restaurant in the main house that looks out over the Tamar Valley. We had a table with the most amazing views. You can see for miles and it really is breathtaking.

Table view

Now for the food….. ooh the food! Just thinking about it makes my mouth water. The dishes were inventive, full of flavour and fresh ingredients but were also works of art. Look at this beautiful Duck liver parfait with damsons and wild offerings.

Liver parfait

My starter was a Cornish crab and crayfish salad with curry spiced mayonnaise and alphonso mango.

crab salad

For main course we both chose the Pan roasted South Coast John Dory & butter poached lobster with vintage carrots, nasturtium & Nepalese pepper.


Now for my favourite part of the meal – pudding! I chose the Variations of Garden Mint and Valrhona bitter chocolate delice.  Nick had the Kaffir lime parfait, strawberries, watermelon & basil.

tracys pud

nicks pudding

My pudding was the most amazing I have ever eaten. The combination of the mint and bitter chocolate was just divine!

The cheeseboard was a perfect combination of flavours and came with picked celery and a ginger jelly. Very yummy!

We are both quite critical about food when eating out but we couldn’t fault our meal at all. Everything was delicious, and we were served by friendly, caring staff who went out of their way to please. They were very knowledgeable about the food and the menu. As a coeliac they advised me on my gluten free options and most of the menu was naturally gluten free or could be easily adapted.  The menu also included complimentary canapés,  espresso sized cheese soup and petit fours. Quite a feast!

Finally, as a green parent I am always interested in whether an establishment has an environmental policy. The Horn of Plenty have put a lot of time and resources into developing theirs which you can see here.  They have a fantastic kitchen garden which could easily supply their kitchens. This did look quite overgrown and neglected on our visit, it would be great to see this revamped and fully stocked.

The perfect romantic destination in Devon – we would highly recommend it if you feel the need to temporarily escape from the hectic world of work and parenting. If you can’t arrange childcare, do not fear – children are welcome too!


North Norfolk Adventures from Kelling Heath

17 Aug


Kelling Heath is in an area of outstanding natural beauty, the campsite is made up of 270 acres of woodland and heathland. Their website tempted us with the chance to spot wildlife, cycle and explore the beautiful Norfolk Coast. As ‘green parents’ there were so many things about Kelling Heath that we were drawn to, not least their 10 green reasons to visit, it really seemed the perfect location for us.

On arrival at the site we were instantly impressed by the layout and the ‘safe’ feeling that the site has. The speed restriction throughout is 5 mph, the roads are wide enough to accommodate a car, as well as a family of cyclists. We felt very confident with our children cycling around the site and always used our bikes to go to the ‘village centre’ or the pool. For such a large site I think they have got this just right.

Beautiful views from Kelling Heath

Beautiful views from Kelling Heath

Our pitch was spacious and had electric hook up as standard. (Our first time camping with a real fridge.. yippee!) The shower block was always clean when we visited, even at peak periods and there were always cleaning staff around to check on things. They did a great job at a really busy time. The showers were hot and the cubicles were well thought out for families – plenty of space, hooks for your clothes and a little fold down seat/shelf. I can’t stand it when your clothes end up in a wet puddle on the floor due to lack of space!

To use the indoor pool you will need to purchase a pass for the Leisure Centre (unless you are staying in a lodge in which case you will get free membership for the duration of your stay). A pass for a family of four will cost you £32 per day which I think is pretty steep. You can also use the gym, sauna, steam room and jacuzzi but even so it is a lot of money.  If you are feeling brave, the outdoor heated pool is free for anyone staying at the site. We didn’t use it but I heard from other people that it was very cold!   As an alternative you could visit the Splash Leisure Centre in Sheringham.

The other facilities and activities on the site were great. There is children’s entertainment most evenings and whenever possible this is outside.  This pleased us because on a nice summer’s evening the last thing you want to do is to be sat indoors. The entertainment was of a good quality, they had a clown on a couple of evenings who brought along lots of activities for the children to try. There were all sorts of comical bicycles and children of all ages were having a great time attempting to ride them. Green Daddy also had a go but this was purely for research purposes of course….

There is a children’s assault course, adventure play area and playing field. Plenty to keep children of all ages entertained.  The site is perfect for cycling. Whether you want to stick to cycling through the woodland and heathland on site or venture further afield, there is something for everyone. We did a lot of cycling. One of our favourite routes was from Kelling Heath to Sheringham Park (via a 40 foot viewing tower!). For more information on cycling routes check out the Huff and Puff website. They are based at Kelling Heath and can also provide cycle hire.


Viewing tower at Sherringham Park

Viewing tower at Sheringham Park

The highlight of our holiday was definitely our day out on the North Norfolk Steam Railway. This railway runs from Holt to Sheringham and makes a request stop at Kelling Heath Campsite! How great is that?! We had a fantastic day spending the first part of the day in the lovely seaside town of Sheringham. I would definitely recommend the Whelk Coppers Tearooms which is down on the seafront. It’s a quaint little cafe offering home-made cakes, light lunches and smoothies. Really great atmosphere and friendly staff too. Also, don’t miss the Shell Art Gallery. You might think is sounds boring but it was quite an eye opener!

NSR collage

Other days out included the seaside town of Cromer. The lifeboat station and the Henry Blogg Museum are both located here and the children really enjoyed both of these.  The Henry Blogg Museum was really interactive and the dressing up was fun!

Dressing up at the Henry Blogg Museum, Cromer

Dressing up at the Henry Blogg Museum, Cromer

Felbrigg Hall is another lovely place for families. It is a National Trust property with a fantastic walled garden. The house had a really fun quiz for the children which really kept them interested and they enjoyed re-enacting the ghostly photographs that a past resident had produced!

Ghostly going-ons at Fellbrig Hall

Ghostly goings-on at Fellbrig Hall

There is a wonderful new nature centre at Cley Marshes. The staff there are very knowledgeable, you can get a wonderful lunch in the cafe and the gift shop sells excellent gifts for bird lovers and nature lovers.

saltmarshes collage



No visit to North Norfolk would be complete without visiting the seals at Blakeney Point. There are various boats which will take you out on the 1 hour trip. We chose Beans Boats but they all charge around the same price. This was a great experience and one the children will hopefully remember forever!

Blakeney Point Seals

Blakeney Point Seals

on boat

Kelling is a great site, the only negative point for us was that we were in a field with a group of around 25 people who were very noisy in the evenings and late into the night. This did slightly spoil our holiday, especially given that we had asked to be in a quiet part of the site.  I have raised this issue with Kelling and they have assured me that they are going to re-visit their policies around group bookings and noise levels.

Overall, we would definitely recommend Kelling Heath as a great location for exploring North Norfolk. Three out of four of us agreed that we preferred it to Center Parcs!





Lavender Cottage, a family friendly holiday in Appledore

19 May
Lavender Cottage is the middle housse

Lavender Cottage is the middle housse

As an assessor with Approved Family Friendly, I was recently asked to visit Lavender Cottage in Appledore.  We were quite excited to visit a part of Devon that we had not previously visited.

The cottage is situated in a quiet residential street, it takes less than 5 minutes to walk down to the village and the quay. We loved wandering through the small streets (thankfully, pretty lacking in cars), exploring all the little nooks and crannies and discovering wonderful little cafes, galleries and other treats.

Although it obviously caters for tourists, Appledore has a real community feel about it. Everyone is very friendly and welcoming and it’s a very unspoilt little place.

appledore collage

Lavender Cottage is the most wonderful family home from which to explore the area. The owners have renovated the property with children in mind. They have lowered all of the door handles in the property, the original ones were far too high for children to reach. They have provided a cot and high chair and have left a list of other items which are available from the owners should anyone need them. children’s plates, cups and cutlery are also provided which makes life much easier if you have toddlers. Books, toys and DVDs are all available for children to enjoy. Both Lily and Thomas loved the whole ‘seaside’ theme throughout the house. The highlight for them had to be the little porthole window between the sitting room and kitchen!


The beds are SO comfortable. The single beds all have double duvets which makes them lovely and cosy. The double bedroom has a king size bed which I think is always a nice little luxury. The mattresses are very comfortable. when Thomas was tucked up in bed on the first evening he said “Mummy this bed is glorious” which did make me giggle. All of the beds are made up for your arrival and there are plenty of soft white towels too.

bedroom collage


View from the two back bedrooms

View from the two back bedrooms


The garden has also been designed with children in mind. As well as a lawned area, there is an ‘imagination area’ where children can make up their own games using stepping-stones and painted logs that can all be moved around to set the stage for any adventure. Lily and Thomas spent many hours playing out here and we enjoyed soaking up the sun with a glass of wine on the benches that are provided.

There is also a barbecue area and a picnic table which is separate from the play area. This will give peace of mind to anxious parents (like me) who get totally stressed when there’s a lit barbecue within 10 feet of children! Charcoal, fire lighters and matches are all provided for guests to use.

garden Collage

The owners have left lots of useful information in the cottage, including recommendations for days out, restaurants and local attractions. We discovered the wonderful Coffee Cabin in Appledore which serves freshly cooked, locally sourced food for breakfast and lunch. Unfortunately we didn’t have time to stop for lunch but the smoothies and cake were scrumptious!


Tempting treats from the specials board

There is a passenger ferry from Appledore over to Instow which makes for a nice day out. Pack a picnic or visit one of the eating spots in Instow, you could also pick up some food from Johns Deli which has been awarded The Best Food and Drink retailer in Devon.

view collage

Appledore and Instow

We travelled a little further afield for our last day and visited the beautiful, historical fishing village of Clovelly. I remember visiting here as a child and loving it, Thomas and Lily felt exactly the same.

Lovely Clovelly

Lovely Clovelly

Lavender Cottage is a stunning, spacious property from which to explore North Devon and I would highly recommend it if you have children of any age. We can’t wait to go back for a longer visit. Check out their website for more details.







A quick and easy boost to your five-a-day

18 Mar



phyto fitI was recently contacted by Phyto-Fit who produce nutritional products.  They take pure fruits and vegetables and freeze dry them into a convenient powder. This can be sprinkled onto your food, added to soups, sauces and shakes.

I’m not a huge fan of supplements so I admit to initially being reluctant to try these products. I was however, pleasantly surprised. We were sent samples of four of the powders – Super Greens, Baobab, Carrot and Strawberry. We have been experimenting with what to do with these. We have added ‘Super Greens’ to a cottage pie and ‘carrot’ to a cheese sauce. The Strawberry and Baobab are lovely added to a milkshake. You can really taste the ingredients because they are so concentrated, a teaspoonful is all that you need.

This is a great way to add extra fruit and vegetables to any meal or drink and could be especially helpful if you have a fussy eater. I think as parents we have all struggled with this at some point. I love the idea of being able to add a ‘nutrient’ boost to my child’s diet. Of course there is no substitute for fresh fruit and vegetables but Phyto-Fit is a great additional supplement.

The powders themselves are certified by the organic farmers & growers association to ensure quality.


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