The weekend that was 23rd – 25th January 2015

All set for her 9th Birthday Party

All set for her 9th Birthday Party

 

Well its that time on a Sunday evening where we all wonder where did the weekend go ? It has been a great weekend for The Williams. I thought it might be a little depressing as we were at Centerparcs last weekend, but we had 2 fun filled events to keep us smiling. The first one was on Friday evening, where I enjoyed the company of One Direction, Katy Perry and 4 screaming girls ! Actually scrap that, it was a whole theatre of screaming females. AND it wasn’t even the real One Direction, so god knows what the screams would be like if I ever get the misfortune to be at a REAL concert.

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One Direction tribute act

 

I have to say both of the tribute acts at our local theatre were fantastic. We took Katie and 3 of her friends for her birthday party. I figured it would be a hell of a lot easier than last year, taking 12 friends bowling (how the hell do teachers do it). The girls were all VERY excited and it was lovely to see. Though I wish I had packed ear plugs by the end of the night. The girls spent the night giggling, chatting, dancing and screaming, and it was lovely to see them all have a great time. The tickets cost us £80, which is probably less than we would have spent on a party, so a winner in my eyes. And Katie exclaimed it had been the ‘best birthday party EVER’.

The day after we were booked to have a family photo shoot. Not the best planning after a night on the tiles with a bunch of 9 year olds ! I was really excited about our shoot, as hubby had got the voucher as part of my 40th birthday. Which was 1 year and 1 week ago. I like to drag my presents out. The shoot was with a wonderful photographer who I used to work with. The studio is at her house, and I decided we should dress fairly casual in jeans and nice tops. I went with no ideas and gave Nicola, the photographer, free rein with us. I had seen her work and knew her pictures were always stunning. Daughter took to it like a duck to water, and she was really getting into the whole posing thing. I even think the tween secretly enjoyed it too. I can’t wait to see how the pictures turn out. Thank you to Nicola at Smewch Photography.

The rest of the weekend was spent chilling at home and enjoying a Sunday walk. I won’t mention the FA cup as hubby is a Swansea supporter. Looking forward to next weekend as I get a night away with the hubs.

 

Birthday meal at Las Iguanas Cheshire Oaks

Las Iguanas

Last Thursday it was my birthday, and as hubby had booked the day off work we decided to go for lunch. As I can’t possibly go out to eat without using a voucher, I searched the internet for restaurants offering ‘birthday deals’. These can range from a free pudding, free drink or sometimes a main meal. I found Las Iguanas offered a free main meal, and as we were heading to Cheshire Oaks to do some shopping, we decided to eat there. I printed off the voucher and headed off with the hubs for a day of fun.

After a few hours of shopping we decided it was time for lunch. We were seated quickly and I mentioned to the server I had a voucher as it was my birthday. She explained that I could order anything from the main menu, as long as my husband ordered from the same section. I was really impressed that the voucher was not for the cheapest main meal as is often the case. I decided to order the half blazing bird which was £16.50. Hubby ordered the chicken burger. As I was saving my drinking for my birthday night, we each had a blackcurrant and soda. Towards the end of the meal I was presented with this !!! A lovely complimentary cocktail.

Thank you Las Iguanas

Thank you Las Iguanas

We LOVE Las Iguanas and have been to the Cheshire Oaks branch several times. The service is always excellent and the food is amazing. Its the little touches like this that really make you feel a valued customer. And the bill was an amazing £13.70 for the 2 of us. Well that certainly pleased the hubby ! Thank you Las Iguanas, and I am sure we will be back very soon.

Awesome Centerparcs Weekend – January 2015

We have just returned from an awesome weekend at Centerparcs.  As a family we are all avid lovers of the place, and each year takes us back there. I booked this break back in June, but we decided to tell the children on THURSDAY night, when we went out for a meal for my birthday. It was lovely to see them so excited for the weekend ahead. I gave the tween strict instructions to be home from school on time on Friday, quick change out of uniforms and we were on the M6 heading up to Whinfell. A few hours later and we were in our lodge.

Centerparcs lodge at Whinfell

Centerparcs lodge at Whinfell

I received alot of tweets when I posted a picture of our lodge the other night, so I will do a separate post on the lodges we have stayed in over the years. I am sure we have nearly stayed in every type now ! Anyway we were soon unpacked and off for a night time swim. We LOVE going swimming in the evening, and for some reason the kids like hurtling down the outside slides in minus conditions. I checked out the nice warm hot tub. We headed back to the lodge around 9.30pm for a well deserved gin, and to light the fire. Blissful evening.

On the Saturday the day started off with no plans. We had a walk round the forest, and ended up at the Sports Plaza. This is where most of the activities are, and the kids had their eye on indoor caving which is a fairly new activity. We found out they had space at 2.30pm, and I booked them in at a cost of £18.00 each. As they were over 8, this meant they didn’t need an adult, and this resulted in one hour child free !!!!! So I enjoyed one of these………

A gin cocktail.... very nice too

A gin cocktail…. very nice too

Kids loved the caving, and it was nice to see them doing an activity together. By this time we were starving, and we decided to eat at The Pancake House. With full bellies we strolled back to the lodge and chilled out, before another evening swim. We came out around 9pm and we were all starving again. It must be the forest air !! We were lucky to be squeezed into Hucks which is an American Restaurant. The kids love it there as a) they have apple macs you can play games on and b) they have an all you can eat buffet. Perfect for a hungry tween. We had a lovely meal and as it was Saturday night there was a lively atmosphere.

Sunday was a special day for 2 reasons. The first reason it SNOWED, and the second it was Katie’s 9th Birthday. What a fantastic surprise for her. We had a lovely morning in the lodge, watching her open her presents, building snowmen and throwing snowballs. I had booked a birthday meal at Bella Italia for 2pm. This is the one restaurant I have never eaten in at Centerparcs. We had a lovely table overlooking the frozen lake. The meal was lovely as was the service. We will definitely return to Bella Italia. Next it was time for Katie and I to watch the Wizard of Oz show. It cost just under £18.00 for the 2 of us. We were lucky to get a front row seat, and Katie loved the show.

Birthday girl and her snowman

Birthday girl and her snowman

Afterwards we met the boys and headed to the swimming pool again. But this time I had booked a Cabana. We had booked a Cabana last year and really enjoyed having somewhere to chill out. You get a TV, fridge with soft drinks in, comfy chairs, a safe and towels. It was good to use it as a base, and we had the use of it for 3 hours. On the Friday I had told the staff it was Katie’s birthday, and they said they would arrange a balloon and a banner like they did the previous year. However it was not done and the pool staff were very apologetic. They presented Katie with a HUGE ice cream and 2 inflatables for her to take home, plus a card signed by all of the lifeguards. The adults were not overlooked either as we got this below. Fantastic service by the pool team, and we were very grateful.

Thank you to the Centerparcs Pool Team

Thank you to the Centerparcs Pool Team

Monday morning and it was time to get the car from the car park and start packing. Even though we had only been there 3 nights, it felt longer as we had packed so much in. The kids wanted to go Ten pin bowling before we went home, and we were lucky to get a lane for 11am. The cost was £18.00 for 45 minutes, but this can rise to £28.00 if you book for the evening time. I got suitably thrashed so I will leave it there !!!

We left at 1pm to head home and back to reality. We all agreed this was one of our favourite Centerparcs break. Being there when it was snowing was definitely a highlight. Katie is lucky to have turned 8 and also 9 at Centerparcs, and I am sure we will return next year when she will turn 10 on the Monday. And the added bonus is I will turn 42 three days before, so I will have a Centerparcs birthday too !!! Just need to work on the husband.

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Watch out for more Centerparcs blog posts coming soon.

 

Hello 2015

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Well seeing as though my last blog post was titled ‘Goodbye 2014′ I thought this one should be ‘Hello 2015′

Sitting on the sofa the other day, whilst eating the dregs of the chocolate box, I decided to do a Bucket List for this coming year. Bucket Lists are really popular, and as I LOVE a good list I set to work. As with our Summer Bucket list, this years list does feature heavily around holidays and days out. You can tell I was the list writer ! So I thought I would share my our list. Some of the things can be done easily such as ordering a house number. We have been in our house 14 years, and each year I keep saying we should have a number by our door. This year it WILL happen.

Bucket list for 2015 

Do Katies bedroom (Paint – New bed – New unit)

Then we can re do the playroom – Or ‘Man cave’ as the hubby and son insist on calling it

Go on a hot tub holiday

Get a new budgie

Go back to Scotland – To our favourite park Auchenlarie

Go away for Christmas

Hire a beach hut for the day – Visions of sipping wine whilst gazing into the sea

Go to Dunham Massey

Go and see my dad in Majorca – Booked for April !!!

Try and overpay mortgage each month by at least £50.00

To carry on blogging as much as I can

Meet up with Nicky and Andy at Trafford Centre – Step sister and hubby

Go to Ribby Hall for spa day

Have a weekend away with Hywel – Possibly Woburn Forest

Enjoy afternoon tea – Found an Afternoon Tea passion in 2014 !

Get back into Slimming World and lose 3 stone

Go to Alton Towers Waterpark

Stay in a pod at Lady Heyes Cheshire

Paint my nails more often

Go to the Pleasure Beach in Blackpool

Go back to Cottons in Knutsford for a meal – Should be easy as I won one on Twitter !

Do word art for 2014 and put on the wall

Put pictures in frames and put on the wall

Find quote for the living or dining room wall and put up

Get number for the house

Sign up for the Race for Life with daughter

So here is to 2015 and ticking off as much as I possibly can off the list.

Goodbye 2014

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Having just read my Goodbye 2013 post I thought I had better get cracking on this years seeing as though we only have 9 hours left. So here are the highs and some lows of 2014 for The Williams.

My amazing 40th birthday cake

My amazing 40th birthday cake

I turned the big 40 back in January. My husband did me proud and made me feel like a princess. The highlights included a Limo filled with my friends, meal with family and friends which included a magician and an amazing Disney Castle cake, Spa day with just me and the hubs, weekend at Centerparcs, weekend just me and the hubs in an amazing lodge nestled in the forest in York. Its safe to say January was bloody fantastic !

We visited one of our favourite holiday parks up in Scotland in April and August. Whilst we were there in August, son turned 12, 1 year to go to the teenage years ! Though I think he has been practising for them for the past 18 months.

Me in Corfu

Me in Corfu

Continuing the theme of holidays, this year was the first year in 4 we had not gone to Disneyworld Florida. Our close friends were getting married in Corfu, and we had a wonderful week there at the end of July. We all loved being part of a large group on holiday, and the kids were never bored. We stayed in a stunning hotel with a swim up room, and we would love to return one day.

We have had some fantastic days out which have included London on the train, Alton Towers and Chessington. Having had our Merlin Annual Passes for 3 years we decided not to renew them this year. Lets see if we can live without them.

Our newly decorated living room

Our newly decorated living room

After hubby getting a bonus back in March we decided to decorate our living room. After being in our house for 14 years this was the one room that needed doing again. So glad we did it, as certainly brightens up the room where we spend most of our time.

We have survived another year of parenting. Though the start of the year was somewhat challenging as the hormones kicked in with our son. Its certainly a learning curve living with a tween, but family life never stands still and is always changing.

Indoor sky diving at Airkix

Indoor sky diving at Airkix

The kids continue to do us proud. They show no fear and showed how brave they were doing a huge zip wire when we were in Scotland. Son has also enjoyed indoor sky diving too.

Me and hubs have enjoyed some great times together seeing John Newman, Russell Kane, Ideal Home Show and meeting my idol Martin Lewis ! We always try and have at least 1 night out a month to be ‘us’.

I have also had some great times with my closest friends which have included meals out, afternoon tea, and a night away at Cottons Hotel in Knutsford.

Centerparcs Woburn Forest

Centerparcs Woburn Forest

Another highlight of the year was back in May when I got a text from my best friend inviting me to Centerparcs Woburn Forest BEFORE it opened. An amazing few days was had by us and our 3 daughters. It was amazing to see Woburn Forest before it opened to the general public, and I shall be forever grateful to my bestie for inviting me.

I recently blogged about the fantastic Christmas we had going away in a lodge up near the lakes.

Looking back we have had another great year which seems to be centered around our holidays ! I am sure our holidays will again feature in the review of 2015, as we have our first one to look forward to in 16 days.

Some of the sad moments included our beloved budgie dying in September. It hit us all hard especially our son.

I think the greatest thing about 2014 is my 90 year old nan is still with us. A few days into 2014 we were told she had hours to live. Well nearly a year later she is still with us, and has recently gone into a lovely nursing home.

I am sure there are many moments I have forgotten to mention, but hope you have enjoyed reading what we have been up to this year. We are still blessed with fantastic family and friends, and I have to give a special mention to my mum and step dad who have agreed to babysit tonight !!! Yep we have our first pass out for New Years Eve in 13 years, and looking forward to celebrating later with friends. Have a great 2015.

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Our Christmas Holiday – South Lakeland Leisure Village

This year we decided to go away for Christmas. This is something we did back in 2011 when we went to Centerparcs, and we loved being away. Now I know its not for everybody, and people love being at home surrounded by their family. I knew my parents would not be around for Christmas day. When a mailer came through my door offering me Christmas breaks for 50% off, I was on the phone and booked within the hour !

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View of the lake from our decking

 

Now I just had to formulate a plan as dear daughter had asked for a bike off Father Christmas. Luckily she decided she wanted her bike delivering to home, and the rest of her presents delivered to our lodge. After packing the whole of Christmas up into a medium sized family car, we headed off up the M6 to Carnforth. We were staying at South Lakeland Leisure Village, where we had stayed twice before. I was really excited about seeing our lodge as I knew it was right on the lake. It certainly did not disappoint, and we all got the wow factor when we walked in. Food was unpacked, clothes were put in the wardrobe and the tree was put up. It was finally time to relax and enjoy Christmas.

Our lovely lodge on the lake

Our lovely lodge on the lake

We all agreed that the lodge was one of the best we have ever stayed in. It looked virtually brand new, and I loved the open plan living area. Our kitchen is separate from our living room at home, and it was nice to chat to hubby as he cooked the Christmas dinner. The site is all lodges, and predominately owners. There is a great swimming pool and gym which you can pay to use. We went in the pool twice and paid £10.00 each session. There is also a restaurant and a small bar area. We had a lovely meal on boxing day, and the food has never disappointed us when we have ate there. We even walked over to the bar on Christmas day, and enjoyed a mulled wine.

He found us !

He found us !

We were there for 4 nights and had a lovely chilled out Christmas with the kids. We ate, drank, played games, swam, walked round the lake and had far too many afternoon naps ! There was no pressure on us as a family to go and see people, and we loved our quality family time just the 4 of us. We still did our Christmas Eve traditions of new Pyjamas and daughter sprinkled the reindeer dust over the decking. Christmas this year had zero stress, and I am very tempted to go away again next year. With the 50% off we got an absolute bargain break in a stunning lodge right on the lake. I must have been a good girl this year !

A little bit of me time

A little bit of me time

The £10.00 Christmas revealed – 2014

I blogged a few weeks ago saying how hubby and I set a strict £10.00 budget for each other for Christmas. We have been doing this for a number of years now. I love the challenge of getting ‘as good as I can get’ presents with just £10.00. So here are the presents all wrapped up

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And here are his presents !!!

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Hobbit Calendar – £1.00

Umbro Aftershave – £1.00

Simon Scarrow book – £1.00

How to poo at work book !!! – £1.99

Lancôme Mens smellies – £1.99

Lego Keyring – £0.44

Snickers – £1.00

Socks – £0.37

Welsh Magnet – £0.50

Wispa and Flump – £0.71

Aftershave Sachets – Free

And here are all my gifts. The boy did well !!!!

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Better get braving those January sales ready for next year.