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.

Ponies, picnics and songs about pants!

28 Feb

My little man turned 6 last week. How did this happen? It only seems like yesterday that I wrote this post about him turning two! This year we gave him a Bow and Arrow as he has become a real fan of archery since Grandad has been teaching him.


We decided to have his party at Pennywell Farm. After hosting many parties at home I kind of feel like I’ve got ‘birthday party burn out’ so decided to take the easy option! We planned a full day out and packed a picnic lunch, a birthday tea was provided as part of the party package.

When we arrived Thomas was given a lovely Birthday rosette which meant that everybody at Pennywell knew it was his birthday. All the staff that we met throughout the day made a huge fuss of him and he was made to feel so special.

The highlight of the day was a show by ‘Nutty Noah‘. As we knew he was going to be at Pennywell, this was another reason why we had the party here. We had seen his act before and it is just so funny! If you are looking for an entertainer for your child’s party I would highly recommend him. Don’t expect any educational slant on this act though…. it is purely designed around what children want and he had them all roaring with laughter! Expect lots of jokes about ‘pants’ and ‘wee’ and lots of silliness… just perfect for boys of Thomas’ age! Don’t worry, there are a few hidden jokes for mums and dads in there too! Here’s a video of Thomas joining Noah on the stage.

Nutty Noah

A few more photos from the day :



Birthday 2


A big thank you to Thomas’ special friends who joined him on the day, and to my mum who helped us to keep track of all six children throughout the day. Luckily we came home with the correct number which is always a bonus!

Five minute, gluten free chocolate cake!

4 Feb



I am no Nigella in the kitchen I can tell you. For one thing, I am normally cooking in my fleecy P.J’s and not a sexy negligee. I like simple recipes that I can rustle up whilst scanning Facebook and sorting out squabbling children. This recipe is super simple and can be ready in under 5 minutes!


4 tbsps Doves Farm, Self Raising Gluten Free Flour

3 tbsps Caster Sugar

2 tbsps cocoa powder

1 egg

3 tbsps milk

2 tbsps chocolate chips (or any chocolate chopped up into tiny bits)


Mix all the ingredients together in a microwavable bowl. Cook in the microwave for 3 to 4 minutes until the cake mixture has stopped rising. Best served with warm custard!

Good Bubble – funky, natural products for children

3 Feb


It’s not often I get truly excited by children’s toiletries. This range has really done it for me though. We were sent a lovely selection before Christmas and were asked to give an honest review of our findings.

We were sent Bubble Bath with Dragon Fruit Extract and Conditioner and Shampoo with Cloudberry extract. What is Cloudberry I hear you ask? Well a quick google tells me that it is a low growing, wild fruit which can be found in northern parts of the world, particularly in the Arctic! They are rich in omega-3 fatty acids, vitamins and antioxidants. I don’t think I have come across many products with real fruit extract in them, I certainly haven’t seen any containing such exotic fruits.

My favorite thing about these products is the smell. I am in fact, sitting here smelling it as we speak! Both of my children loved using these and so far they have commented on the lovely smell every time we have used them. All of these products seem quite concentrated because you only need to use a little bit. The Bubble Bath is very effective at creating, ummm… bubbles. With just one squeeze you have a good load of bubbles, I haven’t really found this with most other natural products.


With 98% natural ingredients, these products are sulfate and paraben free. The shampoo is described as having a ‘tear-free’ formulation. I always take this statement with a pinch of salt BUT after a recent hair-washing incident, I waited for the screams when my daughter got some in her eyes. Much to my surprise she didn’t complain OR scream the house down.

So, The Good Bubble range gets the thumbs up from the Dixon family. I am particularly partial to the Bubble Bath. Now I just need an hour of uninterrupted bath time to enjoy it properly.

Good bubble can be purchased from Holland and Barrett and Ocado and are very reasonably priced.

Disclaimer: I was sent these products for review purposes.All opinions are my own.

‘Share Aware’ – New NSPCC campaign launches today #ShareAware

9 Jan

Today sees the launch of a new campaign from the NSPCC. Share Aware is all about encouraging families to talk about socialising safely online. Their new video is a very easy way to start talking to your children about online safety and aimed at 8 – 12 years olds, it is very appealing and easy to understand.

As part of this campaign, they have launched a new online tool which enables parents to get the low-down on the most popular social network sites. It has been produced in partnership with Mumsnet, the UK’s largest parenting website. They have consulted with over 500 parents and 1,850 young people in order to gain both a parent and child perspective.

Net Aware is just what we need for the modern, technological world we live in. We are all parenting children that are far more tech savvy than we ever were at their age.

What is Net Aware?

  • The website enables you to find basic information about the most popular social media websites and apps. This includes information on what people can use each site for (messaging, sharing photos, playing games etc) and the minimum age you must be to register.
  • It rates the suitability of these sites for young people. Not only does it give you the legal age as set by the owners of the website, but it also gives you a suggested age as voted for by parents and by children.
  • It specifies any particular risks, as highlighted by children and parents.

Whether or not your children use the internet at home, they will still have access to it elsewhere, be that at a friend’s house or at school. Personally I like to know what sites they are using, how they work and how I can keep them safe whilst online. Even websites like ‘Minecraft’ which are known for being ‘creative, imaginative and challenging’ have raised the concerns of children in this study, because you can interact with complete strangers.

What I love about this site.

Net Aware is very easy to use and simple to navigate. I think this is especially important for busy parents.

Each social media site that is listed also includes important links that will help you use the site more safely. For example, on the Facebook review page it gives you a link to all the information that you need to change your privacy settings. This saves a lot of time trawling through pages to find what you need. There are also useful links for reporting inappropriate content or ‘blocking’ contact from strangers.

Would I recommend this site to parents?

If you use a website like Net Aware you can be ahead of the game. You can prepare for any problems by knowing the risks before your children use them and you can use the helpful links to make these sites as safe as they possibly can be.

For more information on talking to your children about socialising safely online, have a look at this parents guide.



Gluten Free Crustless Quiche

5 Jan


Look at this beauty! This quiche is easy-peasy to make. It’s great for using up cold meat and vegetables after Christmas and is much healthier than a traditional quiche as it does not have a pastry crust. You can use whatever vegetables you have in the house really. Peppers work really well with this as do courgettes and mushrooms.


8 eggs

1 large onion, finely chopped

200ml double cream

100 ml milk

1 cup of grated cheese

2 Tomatoes, thinly sliced

1 cup of chopped broccoli

1 cup of chopped ham, or you could use bacon

2 Tablespoons of plain, gluten free flour (I used Dove’s Farm)


Take a 10 inch flan dish and grease lightly.

Gently fry your finely chopped onion and when soft, add this to your flan dish with the chopped vegetables and meat.

Mix the flour with the milk and cream, adding the liquid gradually until you have a smooth consistency. If it is too thick just add a little more milk.

Whisk together your eggs, milk, cream and cheese and gently add this to the ingredients in your flan dish. Season with salt and pepper.

Sprinkle a little more grated cheese on the top and transfer to the oven.

Cook at 190 degrees for about 30 – 35 minutes until the quiche is set

Eat straight from the oven or cold.


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