Hormonal tweens

One of the reasons for starting this blog was to record family life so it wouldn’t get forgotten – and having just posted a Facebook status, I realised I need to preserve this somewhere more formal than just a status.

12 year old was a bit grumpy over dinner tonight.

Her 11 year old brother, who’s been away for the weekend, commented ‘Have you started your periods whilst I’ve been on Scout Camp?’


Home from home (if you live in a mini Downton Abbey?!)

Every few months the husband and I try to get away from it all (‘it all’ being the construction company we run and the 4 kids!!)  We rarely get chance for ‘date nights’, so this is the time for us to reconnect as a couple (that sounds so tossy)  Sometimes we fly off somewhere far flung – but this week we had just 24 hours away, down the road in Broadway on the edge of the Cotswolds.

We’ve stayed at The Dormy House hotel before and had a wonderful time, and then we received an email from their sister hotel, Foxhill Manor offering an activity break we were intrigued.  So – dinner, bed and breakfast in the Sunday Times Hotel of the Year 2015 – along with some segwaying and shooting – what’s not to love?!

Being the right side of Brum – the Farncombe Estate (home to the Dormy, Foxhill and The Fish) – is only 45 minutes away, perfect for a quick escape from reality.

Due to the husband having an important work meeting first thing (can’t really complain, it’s our work that means we can do such things) we didn’t set off as early as we would have liked, so we thought we’d be cutting it fine to make it in time for our time slot of 2.30pm for the ‘activities’.  Thankfully we arrived with a few minutes to spare – so had chance to check out our fabulous room (Birch).


and do the important things like connect to the free wifi (and for the husband to take calls to provide DIY SOS services to some friends whilst I had a mug of peppermint tea!)


Then we were collected by our instructor for our activities.

We started off with rifle shooting – it would appear my husband’s mis-spent youth shooting random insects (actual insects, not code for anything else!) with an air rifle in Falcon Lodge stood him in good stead to be a good shot with the rifle.  Unfortunately I wasn’t so great (humph, as we are very competitive!!)


Thankfully we then moved on to pistols for which I appear to have a natural eye (my career as an assassin may still happen) and I whipped him (as in scored better, not pistol whipping, that would have ruined the whole romantic night away really). Eat your heart out Lara Croft (if she was wearing a floral shirt with a double chin…..)


Next it was segways.  The husband has already been on the kids hover boards (in fact he even did some dusting whilst aboard) but I have steered clear as I’m not a big fan of such things.  But I promised I’d give this a go.


There was quite a bit of swearing shrieking, but after 10 minutes I’d sort of got the hang of it.  Then the instructor took us out of the ‘tennis courts’ – one of the few flat bits on the whole estate – to go on a ‘safari’.  This is where it went downhill – literally!  Given I’m not a fan of going down a slope on a bike – I should have guessed that I wouldn’t enjoy it on a segway!  Within seconds, I’d stropped off it and set off marching down the hill – very reminiscent of pretty much every skiing holiday I’ve ever been on!


Thankfully once it flattened out I coped with getting back to the front of the hotel.


And within 2 minutes of being back in the hotel I had a glass of champagne from the trolley in the lounge in my hand #perfect.

We were then taken to meet the chef who explained about the meal for that evening.  I am sure if we were fussy about food they could have been obliging, but we’re not (back to those double chins again!) and so went with the fabulous menu offered – we could also chose what time we would eat.


’twas then back to the lounge for more fortifying champagne, and a bit of cake for me.  Husband isn’t a cake fan (fool!) and so asked if he could have some cheese, and a beautiful ploughmans’ appeared from nowhere. Now that is service!

After an afternoon nap, Pointless on TV and a relaxing bath with Cotswold Life magazine (when in Rome and all that) it was down for pre dinner drinks.  Yet more champagne!  Half of the 8 rooms were occupied during our stay – and we chatted to 2 of the other couples before dinner in the lounge.  We are both quite sociable people (you’d never guess from all of this oversharing would you?!) so we were fine chatting away – but I do think this is one bit that might be a bit overwhelming for some people – as it is such a small hotel, there is nowhere to hide!!  We were also brought some lovely hors d’oeuvres to soak up the fizz!

Then it was dinner – which was stunning. Not overly fussy – but really tasty.  The food itself is included in the overnight price – as are the drinks in the lounge – but you do have to pay extra for any drinks with the meal.  We started off with Bathtub gin and tonics (the brand, not out of the bath, that would just be weird).  I loved it – but the husband didn’t – so I had both #winning.  The wine list is extensive – and we went for our usual safe bet of a New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc.  The house Sauv B is from Chile – and the husband has a hatred of all Chilean wines – but the staff persuaded him to try it, and it was actually really lovely, so we’d try that one in the future I think.

After our 3 courses in the dining room we retired back to the lounge for the husband to have a cheese board and port in front of a roaring fire – a perfect end to the day.


Before we retired for the evening I did pop to the ladies – and it is fabulous (I was a bit gutted I didn’t take my phone with me – to take a photo, not just because it meant I couldn’t play Words With Friends whilst on the loo!).  Each of the 4 stalls has a different James Bond photo in it – I went for Daniel Craig in the end.

The next morning we were up bright and early as we had massages booked over at the House Spa at the Dormy House at 9am.  Breakfast was wonderful – a mix of buffet and then anything you wanted cooked.  We both went for Eggs Benedict – and it was recommended we had it with their local bacon – and it was awesome.  It would have been lovely to linger over breakfast, with never ending tea and coffee and the morning’s papers – but the spa was calling.

2 full body massages later, I floated to the pool to wait for the husband – but 30 minutes later he hadn’t materialised, I began to wonder if the masseuse couldn’t wake him after he’d fallen asleep !  I went on a search to find him in the spa lounge, fully clothed and working!  He’d decided an hour of relaxation was quite sufficient – and was cracking on with emails sipping lemon and ginger tea.  I headed back down to the spa for 20 lengths, a sauna and a steam room before getting dressed ready to head back to reality.

A lovely lunch in The Potting Shed followed -before the drive back home.  It may have only been a 24 hour escape, but it was truly wonderful – and we very much hope to repeat it in the future.  We’re even considering an exclusive use booking for a weekend (as otherwise children under 12 can’t come, and I’m not sure our 3 youngest would think it fair to be left at home whilst we only took the eldest!) – so if any of you are up for it?!?


I should point out this is not a sponsored post, we paid full whack (and quite a considerable whack at that) for the night – but it was worth every penny. 




Book Review: The Wish List by Jane Costello

The Wish List


“The Big 3-0 is looming, but there’s so much still to do… The brilliant new novel from the Sunday Times Top 10 bestselling author

There are six months left of Emma Reiss’s twenties. . . and she has some unfinished business.

Emma and her friends are about to turn thirty, and for Emma it’s a defining moment. Defined, that is, by her having achieved none of the things she’d imagined she would.

Her career is all wrong, her love life is a desert and that penthouse apartment she pictured herself in simply never materialised. Moreover, she’s never jumped out of a plane, hasn’t met the man she’s going to marry, has never slept under the stars, or snogged anyone famous – just some of the aspirations on a list she and her friends compiled fifteen years ago.

As an endless round of birthday parties sees Emma hurtle towards her own thirtieth, she sets about addressing these issues. But, as she discovers with hilarious consequences, some of them are trickier to tick off than she’d thought…”

Having recently read another Jane Costello book, this was a bargain on Amazon and so I downloaded it onto my Kindle ready for February half term.  Yet again I really enjoyed it – a funny, easy, light hearted read.  I was keen to find out what happened to Emma and her friends and so read it very quickly.  There were some similarities in characters between the two books – young, single Mum, someone working as an accountant – but it didn’t really confuse, just struck me as being very similar.

I’d definitely read more by Jane Costello in the future – but think I need to get my teeth into something a bit more challenging for my next read…………




When I was growing up my Dad was a sales rep for a silver company – and family trips often involved him combining visiting customers around the UK with our holiday (tax deductible mileage I guess?!).  I remember on one such trip, Dad going off with his sample case to see a customer – leaving Mum with us 3 girls in the car.  One minute Dad was crossing the road between 2 parked cars – the next minute he’d disappeared.  Basically he hadn’t noticed the tow rope between the 2 cars and had gone a purler.  Poor Dad!  In fact – he’s due a knee replacement very soon, and maybe that was the start of his knee problems.

Anyway, I’ve never been able to recount that story without laughing hysterically – but tonight I did practically the same – whacking my knee* on the tow bar on the back of Mark’s car whilst squishing between that and another parked car and going flying.  Thankfully my children didn’t witness my escapade – so won’t be able to laugh at the story in a quarter of a century.


*And it was my good knee!   I am now of an age where my knees are described as good and bad rather than right or left. Clearly my right is good and left is bad as my OCD meant the sentences had to match. #geek

Book Review: Tapas, Carrot cake and a Corpse by Sherri Bryan


Tapas, Carrot Cake and a Corpse

“When murder comes calling at the coastal town of St. Eves, Charlotte Denver makes it her business to find out who killed the handsome stranger on board a luxury sailing boat. Unfortunately, her attempts at crime-solving don’t always go down well with the town’s Chief Inspector, ex-firefighter, Nathan Costello, but she presses on regardless, from her marina-front café, taking up the challenge to solve the mystery before tragedy strikes again, and uncovering a plot that sends shockwaves throughout the community. There’s a twist in the tale of this cozy mystery – will you guess what it is?”

I downloaded this because it was free #cheapskate and read it from cover to cover (not literally, it was on my Kindle) on a flight from Munich to Heathrow.  So as you can imagine – it’s not a long book.  In fact, I  think a ‘novella’ would be a suitable description.

It is light, fluffy, super easy to read and not at all taxing – and quite enjoyable, a bit like watching something frothy on ITV on a Sunday evening.

Having said that – I am not desperate to find out what happens to Charlotte in the future, and probably wouldn’t bother spending any money finding out.

I guess short and inoffensive would be my summary. #betthatdoesntgetputonthejacket



Book Review: The Time Of Our Lives by Jane Costello

The Time Of Our Lives


“Three best friends. One five-star hotel. Will it be the holiday of a lifetime . . .?
Imogen and her friends Meredith and Nicola have had their fill of budget holidays, cattle-class flights and 6 a.m. offensives for a space by the pool.
So when Meredith wins a VIP holiday at Barcelona’s hippest new hotel, they plan to sip champagne with the jet set, party with the glitterati and switch off in unapologetic luxury.
But when the worst crisis of her working life erupts back home, Imogen has to juggle her BlackBerry with a Manhattan, while soothing a hysterical boss and hunting down an AWOL assistant.
Between a robbery, a run-in with hotel security staff and an encounter on a nudist beach that they’d all rather forget, the friends stumble from one disaster to the next. At least Imogen has a distraction in the form of the gorgeous guy who’s always in the right place at the very worst time. Until, that is, his motives start to arouse a few suspicions . . .”

This book was a PERFECT holiday read – I really enjoyed it from start to finish.  Having been to Barcelona fairly recently, I liked the fact that I recognised lots of the places that were mentioned (the whole nudist thing happened to us when we were sat in a bar drinking mojitos and a bloke wandered alongside the bar completely stark b*llock naked!)

Barcelona 2

– and I think the hotel was based very much on the W hotel (where we had a lovely afternoon of champers in the sunshine with friends and sans kids!!)

Barcelona 4

Some of it was a little far fetched (European business class is nowhere near that good!) and sometimes  the coincidences were not that likely to have happened – but who cares, it’s a novel – and a fun one at that!  There were lots of twists and turns (which I don’t want to give away) but I really enjoyed it – and liked Imogen and her friends.

I really enjoyed it and will definitely look out for more by Jane Costello in the future.



Book Review: In The Unlikely Event by Judy Blume

In The Unlikely Event

I am a 40 something – and therefore grew up reading Enid Blyton, Sweet Valley High and then Judy Blume books.  In fact, I could probably, a quarter of a century on, still find you the rude bits in the book ‘Forever’!  So when I read in Red Magazine that Ms Blume had written a new book I was very excited and downloaded it immediately.  I do recall now that the interview was with the author herself and there wasn’t a review of the book – that should have set alarm bells ringing, but it didn’t.

Here is what the Amazon blurb says about the book:

“In 1987, Miri Ammerman returns to her hometown of Elizabeth, New Jersey, to attend a commemoration of the worst year of her life.

Thirty-five years earlier, when Miri was fifteen and in love for the first time, three planes fell from the sky within three months, leaving a community reeling. Against this backdrop of actual events in the early 1950s, when airline travel was new and exciting and everyone dreamed of going somewhere, Judy Blume weaves a haunting story of three generations of families, friends, and strangers, whose lives are for ever changed in the aftermath.”

So, back in November 2015 I started reading ‘In The  Unlikely Event’.  I tried really hard to get into it – but there seemed to be hundreds of characters, vaguely linked to each other, and no real connections.  It was really, really boring.

I took it with me on my Kindle for a long haul return flight and 10 day holiday over Christmas and New Year.  Admittedly  the 4 kids were with us – but I didn’t get my Kindle out once.  This is not like me at all.  I just wasn’t inspired to read it.

In January I tried again a few times, but still couldn’t get to grips with it.

I am not normally one to give up on a book – hey, I waded through the whole of The Goldfinch – and since I started reviewing books on here I’ve finished every one.  But I have decided that life is too short to persevere with something that is not giving you joy (or emotions of some sort other than boredom and frustration).

So we will remain ‘Forever’ fans of the Judy Blume of our teenage years and not this book.