Renovating a house

One of the things that I’ve thought about a lot while I’ve been in California is how much we’ve achieved in the past year. Facebook keeps sending me those reminders of what I was doing this time last year and seeing all the photos of our house renovation pop up really brings it all home to me how crazy the past 12 months have been. If you’d have told me 12 months ago that today I’d be sitting in California and our house would be nearly completely finished, there’s no way I’d have believed you. We were living at Nick’s parents, Nick was waking up at 6am to drive to the house to get a couple of hours work done before driving an hour to work all day as a food judge, having to do his copywriting work in his lunch break before driving an hour home and working until 10pm at night on the house before driving back to his parents and flopping into bed completely exhausted. This went on for the best part of 4 months. Then he broke his leg. (Luckily most of the house was finished by that point!)

bedroom1

I know it’s easy to make stuff like this look like no big deal on blogs and social media but I just wanted to write a post about what real hard work it’s been. Nick & I did 80% of the work ourselves (and I’ll be honest, 90% of that was just Nick). We knew that in order to maximise our return on investment, we needed to be doing the work ourselves. We didn’t hire a £250-a-day skip, we drove to the local tip several times a day or dug several enormous holes in our back garden and buried the rubble – which is completely backbreaking. We didn’t hire a decorator or a painter, we only had skilled tradesmen in for things that were completely essential. The only ‘luxury’ was having a tiler as Nick had made a bit of a mess in our last home so I put my foot down on that one!

bathroom 1

1. It will take longer than you expect

Everything you plan to do is guaranteed to take longer than you expect or allow for. Even if you get tradesmen in to do the job, there always will be delays, whether it’s people just deciding not to turn up for the day without letting you know, or delays with supplies being ordered and delivered or  in getting the building inspector to come and sign off the work before you can do the next bit, everything will take longer than you want it to. Try not to stress out too much. Most of the time it’s out of your hands. Go and have a cup of tea and appreciate the rest.

kitchen1

2. It will cost more than you expect

Yep. There’s a whole ton of stuff that we didn’t budget for that soon adds up. We were quite accurate with our estimates for the big stuff like plasterboard and paint but all the little things like nails, screws and paint rollers that cost £5-£10 each time means the costs quickly mount up. That’s without factoring in the furniture that you didn’t realise wouldn’t fit up the stairs (hello new bed*!)

kitchen3

3. Things will go wrong

Countless things went wrong during the renovation process. Nick sliced his hand open rather badly on a porcelain toilet that he was smashing out, Nick’s dad hurt his hand while he was knocking down a wall for us, my dad did his back in while he was helping to strip wallpaper and that’s without mentioning the physical things that went wrong with the house! You’re bound to measure something wrong at some point or drill a hole in the wrong place or drag a bucket along a freshly painted wall (yes these all happened) but don’t sweat, most things can be fixed quite easily – as long as you don’t nearly electrocute yourself on a random wire poking out the kitchen wall that the electrician assured you was dead!

garden1

4. Nobody around you will quite understand your exhaustion

Unless they’ve been through it themselves, nobody else will quite understand the extreme exhaustion you’re going through. The constant calculation of measurements for huge, really expensive items and worry that you’ve given the correct figures mixed with the hard manual labour is truly exhausting (& that’s before you add a toddler into the mix). Trust me, it’s nothing on a newborn baby.

kitchen2

Obviously, here we are a year later and I can honestly say it was totally worth it. I love our house so much. But this kind of project isn’t for the faint-hearted!

You can see the finished rooms at the links below (we still haven’t got much art on the walls though, I think it will always be a work in progress!)

Kitchen | Bathroom | Bedroom | Lounge | (I haven’t actually done an office one yet!)

*This post is in collaboration with Oak Furniture UK as part of their DIY Disasters campaign

What to wear on holiday in Mallorca

Mallorca is such an ideal holiday destination for so many people and it’s not hard to see why. Beaches, sunshine, culture, good food, the list of reasons to visit is endless. Not to mention that you can fly there from most local airports, without having to lug all your stuff to a major city airport. The lucky people of Mallorca see over 300 days of sunshine a year and the average temperature is 21 degrees – so what are you waiting for? Book Mallorca* today!

With this in mind, I’ve put together some outfits for some of the most popular Mallorca activities.

I thought I’d kick things off with ‘Lunch at the local food market’…

 

Lunch at the food market in Mallorca

Bag: Blank | Dress: Toast | Denim jacket: New Look | Sandals: Billabong (similar) | Necklace: Aurelie Bidermann

There’s a huge food market in Mallorca called Olivar Market (or Mercat de l’Olivar) where you can browse stands for all types of delicious wares and once you start to tire, take a rest and grab a bite to eat at one of the tapas bars. This casual pastel outfit is perfect for perusing fruit and veg and blending in with the locals.

Climbing mountains in Mallorca

 

Sports bra: Nike | Tank top: Nike | Leggings: Adidas Originals | Trainers: Nike | Hat: Roxy | Bottle: Camelbak

In 2011, Mallorca’s Serra de Tramuntana was granted UNESCO World Heritage status for being an area of great physical and cultural significance. The Puig Major is the highest mountain in the Balearic Islands and is well worth checking out. The trails are made up of stone pathways and are well marked so you’re unlikely to get lost and offer spectacular views over the ocean. And while you’re at it, why not do it in style? Check out those Adidas leggings – aren’t they dreamy? Also, I am the proud owner of one of those Camelbak bottles, in fact, Nick & Huxley do too, and I can’t recommend them highly enough.

 

Exploring cathedrals in Mallorca

 

Bag: Rag & Bone | Blouse: Mango | Lipstick: Nars | Trousers: Etro | Bow: H&M | Shoes: Gianvito Rossi 

Palma is home to the La Seu cathedral which was built on the site of a former mosque. Construction started in 1230 and continued for a jaw-dropping 400 years. It’s easy to read facts like that and just skim over them thinking ‘hmm that’s interesting’, but seriously, FOUR HUNDRED YEARS. That’s insane. And it’s huge. The nave (central part) is 44m tall (Notre Dame in Paris is 33m). As far as I’m concerned, those 400 years were time well spent as it’s totally beautiful and this outfit would be perfect for walking around and exploring all the nooks and crannies.

At the beach in Mallorca

 

Bag: Accessorize | Sandals: M&Co | Suncream: Nivea | Swimsuit: Topshop | Sunglasses: RayBan | Hat: Eugenia Kim | Kaftan: Melissa Odabash

And last but not least, the pinnacle of any Mallorca holiday – the beach outfit! How amazing is that swimsuit! I love when you find great looking high street pieces. And don’t even get me started on that hat! How cute! I spotted Rosie Londoner wearing it in one of her blog posts recently and fell head over heels. It’s a bit pricey for my little purse though!

*This is a collaborative blog post

How to decorate your house like a pro

It can be difficult in this age of cookie-cutter interiors, where everyone’s home looks like it jumped straight out of the Next catalogue, to put a unique spin on the finishing touches in your home. BUT! I’m about to help you remedy that with the help of a glorious website called Uncommon Goods.

Uncommon Goods recently contacted me to ask if I would put a post together for them and I jumped at the chance after getting lost in their website for several hours. (Seriously though, you have been warned!)

There is WAY TOO MUCH cool stuff for me to showcase all of it here but I hope you’ll check out their website and have browse around for yourselves. And before you start feeling guilty about clicking and shopping, you should probably know that Uncommon Goods have a Robin Hood twist. The lowest-paid worker at Uncommon Goods earns 50% above minimum wage, over a third of their collection contains recycled materials and support four different not-for-profit organisations including Women for Women International and American Forests. So there, now you can shop with purpose and no guilt whatsoever. You can thank me later.

This map was one of the first things that caught my eye when I scrolled through their selection of art work. Then I noticed it was made by the amazing children’s author, Oliver Jeffers, a firm favourite in our household. And of course it’s of America. I’m starting to wonder if there’s too many map and/or America related pieces of art in our house now? (Although saying that, this series of prints by Carolyn Gavin has taken my fancy too…)

oliver jeffers places in america map uncommon goodsERMAHGERD I need this hammock chair in my life immediately. Once we get our back garden sorted out, Nick is planning on building a decking area so there’s more room to sit people, but mainly because he wants to fit his smoker on it. I’m wondering if I can convince him to construct some sort of device so that I can hang this somewhere. It’s literally my life-long dream to have a hammock. Check out the rest of their unique furniture here: http://www.uncommongoods.com/home-garden/furniture

do good hanging chair hammock uncommon goodsI practically squealed with delight when I saw this living wall planter. I know that you can grow plants vertically, and I’ve seen several ‘living walls’ around and about but it had never occurred to me that you could make a teeny weeny version to have in your home. I love love love this idea for the bathroom or even the kitchen, but really, anywhere you can squeeze an extra bit of living green stuff into your house the better! For me, the home decor section is the area that Uncommon Goods really excels at. There’s tons of quirky bits and pieces that you definitely won’t find anywhere else.

succulent living wall planter kit uncommon goods

I love the colourful, playful illustrations on these cushions. I was never really into personalised stuff growing up because my name is Emma and there were like 3 other Emma’s in my year at school so it never felt special or exciting to see my name written on stuff. However, now we’ve got a little Huxley and you can’t find his name on ANYTHING, I’ve definitely become more interested in things that can be personalised. Hux would love these cushions but I’d have a hard time deciding whether to get the bear one or the elephant one. There’s tons of great wedding gift ideas on the website too.

personalised story book pillow uncommon goodsSo there you have it. Another website for you to lose yourself in for a few hours. Let me know what you love on the Uncommon Goods website!

 

 

 

My favourite iPhone games

Being so close to the technology capital of the world (San Francisco & Palo Alto) and having got so much use out of my phone recently while trying to combat the boredom of being alone all day every day with Huxley, I wanted to write a post about some of my favourite fun iPhone games for keeping myself entertained.

I’m not really into a specific ‘type’ of game, I’m happy to give most things a try but I have to say that when I find one I like, I’ll stick with it and probably won’t ever get bored of it.

Candy Blast Mania

I know every man and his dog raves about Candy Crush but I actually MUCH prefer Candy Blast Mania. This is the game I’ve probably had on my phone the longest. I think the levels are much more fun and I get stuck a lot less than I did on Candy Crush. The thing that really put the nail in the coffin with Candy Crush for me was that you have to constantly pester your Facebook friends in order to pass levels. It’s been a few years since I’ve played it now so they might have updated that stupid feature but I still get game requests ALL THE TIME on Facebook so I’m guessing maybe they haven’t?

candy blast mania(photo credit)

HayDay

This is an app that I actually had to delete from my phone because my level of addiction was far too real. Like I genuinely thought it might end in divorce for Nick & I if I kept it. Again, everyone raved about Farmville but I just didn’t get on with the gameplay of Farmville and found HayDay much more intuitive and fun to play. I warn you now though, it’s seriously addictive! Ask Brogan!

hay day farming game app(photo credit)

Evil Apples

Evil Apples is basically an app version of Cards Against Humanity. I stumbled across it one evening while discussing the game with some friends and we all quickly got a bit addicted. Even Nick has this game on his phone and he HATES playing games on his phone.

evil apples cards against humanity iphone games app (photo credit)

Blackjack

Yes, I do like to pretend I’m a member of Oceans Eleven. I’ll be honest, I’m still not entirely sure what I’m doing or how it works but it’s pretty good fun anyway. You can play blackjack online using the Betway website if you don’t trust yourself to have it on your mobile!

blackjack game betway app (photo credit)

Covet

This is a proper girly one. It’s basically playing Barbie dolls but even more awesome. You can change hair & make-up styles, skin tone and play the daily challenges to collect money & diamonds to save up to buy more clothes. The clothing collections change from season to season and are all from real-life designers. You can even shop directly from the app. It’s definitely the daily challenges that make this game so addictive for me. You can vote on other people’s outfits too. The aim of the game is to win money by creating the best outfits in the challenges so that you can buy more clothes so that you can unlock different hair and make-up styles as the value of your wardrobe increases.

Covet fashion app

 (photo credit)

Diner Dash

This is an old favourite that I return to again and again. It’s one of those games that is easy to understand, has just the right amount of challenge and excitement and you can easily waste hours and hours completing level after level. Luckily you only get 3 ‘life stars’ at a time and each one takes 20 minutes to regain otherwise I would spend a scary amount of time playing this!

diner dash(photo credit)

 

If you enjoyed this post, I’d love to hear from you, and if anyone is interested in my favourite (& Huxley’s favourite) iPad apps for toddlers then give me a shout and I’ll put one together!

 

Some exciting news!

If you watch my weekly vlogs, you’ll probably already know that we’re about to go to California for 10 weeks. It’s all very exciting but has also been quite stressful due to how short-notice it’s all been. We’re leaving in two weeks time and only got our accommodation booked last night! In fact, we’ve only actually found somewhere to stay for February so far! We’ve still got nowhere to stay for the whole of March yet! I can tell from the reactions of most of my family that they think we’re a little nuts. If you’ve known Nick or I for any length of time, you’ll know it’s almost impossible to have a conversation with either of us without San Francisco or California being mentioned at some point. It’s always been a bit of a pipe dream to live out there so it’s nice to almost make that dream a reality!

So, here’s the plan. We’re going to be staying in San Francisco for a couple of days and then we’re going to stay with Nick’s friend in Moraga (just outside of Berkeley) for a few nights before settling down in a 2-bedroom AirBnB apartment in Sonoma for the month of February. After that, who knows?!? We’ll still be staying somewhere in wine country for March but it could be Napa or Santa Rosa or Sonoma again, we’re just going to play it by ear and see what happens. Then, on April 1st, we’ll either be driving North to Portland, Oregon for 10 days or South to Los Angeles before flying home on the 11th. Nick has even talked about driving across Nevada and Idaho to Montana but when I asked him what he wanted to see/do in Montana, he couldn’t really give me an answer so I’m not sure that will happen – but I’ve just typed Montana into Pinterest and I might be easily persuaded! Yellowstone National Park is even closer than Montana and I’d totally be up for that!

I have to admit that I’m a little bit nervous about how I’m going to find day-to-day living there as I’ll be on my own with Huxley a lot of the time, with no nursery to give me a break and no relatives or friends to go and see to break up the day. I’ve spent ages scouring Facebook for local mommy groups and have scouted out where the library is and I’m going to try and make a little map of the local neighbourhood parks I can walk to as I won’t have the car every day. As silly as this sounds, I have to admit that I’m pretty worried about my teeth as everyone out there has a Hollywood smile, if I could afford some major dentist* work beforehand then I would definitely do it! I have a feeling they’ll probably guess that I’m British before I even speak!

I have to admit that I’m pretty excited about leaving England for the whole of February. I really hate February! I’m not good with the cold. But, before you get jealous about the California weather, although it’s about 15 degrees, it’s also been raining for a LONG time so I won’t be sunning myself by the pool or anything like that!

I’m super excited to be able to properly explore such a gorgeous area of Northern California. I’ve been googling all the different hikes and trails you can do and I can’t wait to visit Muir Woods as it’s been on my bucket list for years. We’ll also hopefully visit Yosemite again (see my previous post with 5 month old Huxley!) and make trips to Lake Tahoe and other surrounding areas.

If you’re not sure what wine country looks like, check out Rosie Londoner‘s INCREDIBLE photos from her recent trip, as well as Julia from Gal Meets Glam‘s blog as she lives in San Francisco so goes out to wine country all the time and takes the most beautiful photos.

Napa California

(Photo via The Londoner)

napa valley

(Photo via Gal Meets Glam)

So yeah, my Instagram feed will hopefully be filled with gorgeous sunny shots of vineyards, giant redwoods and lots of milkshakes, pie and burgers! Be sure to subscribe to my YouTube channel to keep updated with my adventures weekly!

*This post contains a paid-for link

Home vs Adventure

adventure quote

These days it feels like you can’t swing a cat without hitting an inspirational quote about travel and adventure. We live in a funny time, where everyone’s Instagram feels like a constant competition to out-exotic each other. If you’re not hiking up a mountain, trekking through a jungle or frolicking in a far-off ocean then the world isn’t interested. At least, that’s how it feels to me.

Although I’m totally for great, big adventures that open your mind and expand your horizons (insert other cliches here), today I’d like to talk in defence for the homebodies among us.

There is absolutely NOTHING WRONG with feeling happiest snuggled on the sofa in your pyjamas, clutching a mug of hot chocolate and watching a movie. I feel like if you were to admit this in public these days you’d be met with a few funny looks. We need to all chill out a little bit trying to out-adventure each other and try and find joy in the little everyday adventures that we can have. Whether that’s starting a new job, moving house or even just stomping around the forest, we all adventure in different ways.

I didn’t write a ‘Year in Review’ post this year because I was in a pretty bad place happiness-wise around New Year and I felt like I hadn’t done anything in 2015 and that it had been a bit of a flop. But last night, I was laid awake in bed thinking about all the incredible things we’ve achieved in the past year. We moved out of our flat, into Nick’s parents for 3 months and started a COMPLETE renovation of our house. We’re not talking about a lick of paint here and there, we’re talking about knocking down walls and re-plastering. The whole shebang. The fact that we completed an entire renovation of a 3 bedroom house, while Nick was working full-time for the most part, getting up at 6am to work on the house, doing his writing during his lunch breaks, then leaving work and going straight back to the house to work until 10pm or later, and as a couple, we’ve earned more money than we’ve ever earned in the past year AND we’ve managed to raise a happy, healthy, content, polite, beautiful little boy at the same time is mind-blowing when I look back on it. So although we didn’t go on any exciting holidays, in some ways, we had a much bigger adventure than we realised.

adventure quote

If you’ve been watching my weekly vlogs, you’ll know that we’re on the brink of our own big adventure for this year. We’re potentially moving to America for 2 months (and possibly indefinitely). The first two weeks of January have been a complete panic and a total rollercoaster of emotions as we try to decide what’s best for our little family. The fact that we’d have to leave at the end of January hasn’t given us a lot of time to think about it so it definitely feels very spontaneous and is a little bit scary – everything these adventure quotes have you believe means it’s the right thing to do (do one thing a day that scares you – life begins at the end of your comfort zone etc). But what if it’s not?

One of the things I’ve realised is how at home I feel in our new house. We moved back to the town that I grew up in and at the time I was really anxious that it would make me feel inadequate and that I’d feel like I’d taken a step back in life. But in reality, what I feel is extremely grounded. I hadn’t realised how much comfort I take from being in such familiar surroundings. It definitely helps that where I live is completely beautiful and surrounded by forest but I just feel like I’m in the right place right now.

I don’t really know where I’m going with this post or what the end ‘message’ is, but what I’m basically trying to say is that life is an adventure, whether you stay in your home town your whole life or whether you visit all the countries in the world. Ignore the stupid Pinterest quotes if they make you feel inadequate.

 

Car review: Peugeot 2008

Time for something a little different on the blog today. You may have seen on my social media accounts that I was sent a Peugeot 2008 Crossover for a week a little while ago. Peugeot kindly leant me the car with a full tank of petrol and all they asked for in return was an honest review of how I thought the car fit in with my active family lifestyle. The model I was sent was a Peugeot 2008 FELINE BlueHDi 120 in Amber Red with ‘Calima’ Ambience Panama trim with 17″ Eridan alloy wheels and a Cielo panoramic glass roof. This particular model retails at £20,045 (as of December 2015).

Peugeot 2008 car review 2015

So here goes…

This review is going to start with all the great things that I loved about the car and then continue to the things that I didn’t like quite so much. Each section is clearly marked with headlines so you can scan/skim through them if you like.

I also made a video review as I know some people would prefer to watch rather than read. This fits the same format, with all the things I liked about the car in the first half of the video and the things I didn’t like so much in the second half.

Things I liked about the Peugeot 2008

 

Automatic wing mirrors

The automatic wing mirrors are a great feature. The wing mirrors automatically fold in towards the car when you lock it. This gives you great peace of mind that they’re not going to get knocked/scuffed once you’ve parked your car.  It also allows you to see at a quick glance whether or not you’ve remembered to lock your car!

Automatic windscreen wipers

This was probably my favourite feature of all! I get unreasonably stressed out when the speed of my windscreen wipers isn’t in sync with the speed of the rain meaning that the wipers squeak really loudly every time they go. It really grinds my gears as Peter Griffin would say. The automatic windscreen wipers completely eliminate this problem as the sensor only activates them when there’s a reasonable amount of rain happening. It also means that you don’t have to remember to keep switching them on and off every 5 minutes if the rain is intermittent. It’s super easy to switch on and off too with a quick flick of a switch.

High off the ground

I really liked the fact that the Peugeot 2008 was slightly higher off the ground than my current car. This is particularly beneficial if you’ve got children and have to bend down to get them in and out of the car all the time. It makes it much easier on your back!

Handfree mobile connectivity

I thought the handsfree mobile connectivity worked really well. The speakers were nice and loud so I never struggled to hear what was being said and I didn’t have to shout to make myself heard to the person on the other end of the phone. Saying that, the system was totally flawless (see further down)

Nice to look at!

Obviously everyone wants to drive a nice-looking car. We can’t pretend that appearances aren’t important here! With it’s snazzy red paintwork and shiny, sparkly chrome features, this car is very easy on the eyes!

Spacious boot

With a child, a big boot is essential. We’re always cramming tons of stuff from pushchairs, to trikes, to wellies, to shopping bags, to boxes of nappies and everything in between into our boot. I was surprised to find on my first outing that I managed to fit TWO pushchairs in the boot! (A big iCandy one and a smaller flip-up one). I also liked that the boot was totally flat so you could sit on it to put your wellies on or use it as an emergency changing table (!) The only downside for me was that the responsiveness of the boot-release button was a bit slow which would be really frustrating if you were carrying heavy shopping or desperately holding on to your toddler who was trying to run into oncoming traffic!

Well-designed centre console

I thought the centre console of the Peugeot 2008 was really well designed. The layout of the computer system/stereo and the heating controls were really well planned. The buttons for the air-con temperature control were really nice and easy to use while driving without having to look down. It had plenty of places to store all your stuff. The only improvement that could be made would be possibly moving the USB port into the glove box as the cables kind of get in the way of the cup holders.

Peugeot 2008 chrome gearstick

Good acceleration

This car goes from 0-62 in 9.6 seconds, which doesn’t mean a great deal to me written down but I do know that it goes A LOT faster than my current car (a 2008 Toyota Auris).  In normal people terms, when you put your foot down, it GOES!

Very economical

Due to the BlueHDi Diesel engine in this car, the fuel consumption is extremely good. I drove just over 300 miles in a week and only less than 3/4 of a tank of fuel. The brochure tells me that you can get as much as 78.5 mpg (miles per gallon) but the in-car system said 55.3 mpg while I had it which is probably due to all the short drives and nipping around town that I did but if you were to go on a long journey at a consistent speed, you’d be able to get it much higher than that. This also means that you don’t have to pay car tax! Hoorah!

Automatic headlights

Again, another automatic feature that just makes driving the car so much simpler. Switching my lights on is something I often forget to do, especially if I’ve been parked in a bright car park. Unlike the automatic windscreen wipers, which you have to switch on every time you get in the car, this feature can stay enabled permanently so you literally never have to think about switching your lights on again! A great safety feature if you’re a forgetful Susan like I am! They’re sensor activated too so they’ll come on even if it’s daytime but it’s just really gloomy.

Panoramic sunroof

This one doesn’t make a whole lot of difference to the car as a driver but it does make the experience much nicer for the passengers! Obviously it lets a lot of daylight into the car which is always nice and makes the car feel much bigger and brighter. As a child I would spend hours looking out the windows at the trees and stars and I’d have loved gazing out of a huge panoramic window like this!

Mini dashboard screen

Sorry, I’m not sure what the technical name of this bit is! I’m talking about the little computer screen above the steering wheel. I thought this was a really nice feature. Although you’ve got a speedometer on the right, I found it really helpful to see my speed in numerical figures in front of me. The screen also shows you directions and instructions when the SatNav is switched on, while also still displaying your speed in between the SatNav instructions.

In car dashboard Peugeot 2008

Quiet engine

This car is super quiet when you turn the ignition on. I was going to write ‘it’s really quiet for a Diesel’ but actually it’s really quiet for a car in general – it’s much quieter than my current petrol-run car! This means that you can hear the radio better, you can hear the mobile phone through the speakers really well and generally improves the in-car experience as it’s not noisy like the inside of an aeroplane when you’re going at high speed.

Easy-to-use SatNav system

I’ve used a couple of SatNav systems in my time and I found this one really easy to use. The best thing is that you can override the ‘postcode’ input by just typing in the name of the town. It also gives you the option to choose the fastest route or the shortest route.

Steering wheel stereo controls

I really liked the steering wheel controls. My current car has buttons which can be a bit labour intensive to push when you’re driving along but the Peugeot 2008 had little wheels that you can just flick up and down with your thumbs. I found this much easier to use, if a little slow to respond when changing tracks on an iPod.

Easy on-screen music navigation

I liked that you could click on the album or artist that you were listening to and easily switch track or album from the on-screen computer. It’s probably not something I would use all the time but it was a nice little extra. The only downside to this system is that you can’t use the controls on your iPod to change the artist or access a playlist while it’s plugged in.

 

Things I didn’t like about the Peugeot 2008

 

Not very big inside

For a Crossover vehicle, I didn’t think the Peugeot 2008 felt very big inside. To me, the roof felt quite low and enclosed. In this particular model, this was helped by the addition of the panoramic sunroof window but I think if you didn’t have that, it might feel quite squished, especially if you’re taller than my 5’4″ self! In terms of leg room though, there seemed to be plenty.

No mobile connection confirmation

One of the things that bugged me most about the in-car mobile connectivity was that it never told you whether or not your phone was connected. This can be especially confusing if there are two of you in the car as there was no way of knowing who’s phone was connected without delving into the system to find out. Just a simple icon, or voice notification when you started the engine would have been great.

Can’t connect more than one phone at a time

Another downfall of this system is that you can only connect one mobile phone at a time. My husband and I only have one car so we are often in the car at the same time. Combined with the issue above where it didn’t tell you clearly who’s phone was connected, I think this would really bug me after a while. It does state in the handbook that you can connect more than one phone at a time but it depends on what handset you’re using. My husband & I both have iPhone 5s’s which is quite a common handset and not overly outdated compared to the age of the car so I was surprised that our phones weren’t one of the models that allowed multi-handset connectivity.

I don’t like the chrome!

This one is more of a personal preference but I really didn’t get on with the chrome gearstick! I didn’t realise that I actually drive along holding onto the gearstick quite often and because it’s winter it was FREEZING! I’d imagine you get the opposite problem in the summer with it being red hot if left in the sun which would be even worse! So I definitely wouldn’t ever choose to have a chrome gearstick! I also wasn’t a particular fan of the chrome pedals. For the most part, they were fine, but when I wore Converse, I found that my shoes would slip off the clutch scarily often which made me panic and was difficult to remedy without stopping the car!

Suspension wasn’t as good as expected

To be honest, the suspension really wasn’t as good as I was expecting. We live on an unmade road with LOADS of potholes and the main catalyst for us buying a new car would be to find one that handled the bumps much better. I’ve driven down our road in several cars over the time that I’ve lived here and some of these have handled the unevenness much better so I was disappointed as I thought that the suspension on a Crossover vehicle would be much better than my current car.

 

So, that wraps up my review of the Peugeot 2008 Crossover. All in all, I had a great time driving it and it was definitely a BIG improvement on my current car. Even my two-year-old son kept saying it was better and is still going on about the red car even though we gave it back a week ago. There were only a few small niggly bits that let this car down but I think that the good definitely outweighs the bad – particularly the money you would save on fuel consumption and tax due to it being so economical.

Thank you very much Peugeot for letting me borrow the car!

Mog’s Christmas Calamity

As part of my involvement in the Sainsbury’s Fashion Blogger Community, they recently asked me if I’d like to get involved in their Storyteller’s Campaign to raise awareness of child literacy in the UK. I was asked to film myself reading Mog’s Christmas Calamity and to upload it, so here it is!

If you haven’t seen the new Sainsbury’s Mog Christmas advert then you can watch it here. The book is available to buy at all Sainsbury’s stores or online, costing £3, with £2 going to Save the Children.

Fireworks for Halloween

This year we went to the local fireworks for Halloween with Nick’s family. Their garden backs onto the heathland and there’s a path that leads all the way to the local playing field so we wrapped up, grabbed our torches and headed out into the dark (and slightly spooky) forest.

Nick-&-I-fireworks

Huxley absolutely loved it. He walked through the woods holding Elsie’s hand and carrying the torch as we told them to keep their eyes peeled for the Gruffalo. When we arrived at the end of the path, Huxley’s little eyes lit up at the rainbow of flashing lights before him.

We had about an hour to kill before the fireworks display was on so the kids went on a couple of rides. Huxley had never really been on anything like that before but he got to sit next to Elsie and was in his element! His day got even better when the next ride allowed him to fly on a pink elephant!

Huxley-on-rideNeile-&-LukeHadley-&-ElsieNicks-family

They also had a ‘spooky woodland walk’ set up which was a little trail around the woods lit up with fairylights where kids dressed up as monsters jumped out at you. It was pretty funny and the kids all coped surprisingly well! At one point a teenager walked right up to Huxley and screamed in his face. Huxley looked at me and said ‘scared’ but I told him to say ‘boo’ back and he did. I can’t believe he didn’t cry! (You can watch us at the fireworks in my weekly vlog!)

I wasn’t sure what Huxley would make of the fireworks either as he’s never seen any before but he wasn’t phased by the loud noises at all and was just pointing at them with the biggest smile on his face as he told us what all the different colours were.

fireworks-for-Halloween

Design charity wellies for Joules & win a £5k holiday!

Popular British brand, Joules, is running a competition to win a £5,000 luxury break with Forest Holidays. All you have to do is get creative and design a pair of wellies!

The main prize is a 3-night stay in a golden oak treehouse cabin that sleeps up to 10 people (with various locations to choose from), a voucher for a Forest Ranger activity (for up to 10 people), an in-cabin chef for a night, 5x 1-hour spa treatments, Prosecco and chocolates on arrival, 5x Go Ape passes and a hamper filled with Joules items and surprise treats from their partners. There are also 10 runners-up prizes of £250 gift cards.

The winning design will be made into a real life welly and sold on Joules.com. All proceeds from the sale of the limited edition winning welly will be donated to our charity partners via CHARITABLY JOULES.

So get your creative juices flowing and submit your designs to http://getcreative.joules.com/ before 4th December for your chance to win! (You can submit up to 5 designs per email!)

Joules welly design competition

Here’s me rocking my favourite pair of Joules wellies at last year’s Open Farm Sunday!

UK-fashion-blogger-in-Joules-wellies