I was invited Press Night to see this years Wyvern Theatre Summer Youth Project production of the Charles Dickens classic musical…Oliver
The Summer Youth Project is a youth project based Swindon. During the summer holidays, The Wyvern Theatre gives up to 200 youngsters aged 9-21 the chance for an experience of working in a professional theatre. Not only for the chance of being on stage in front of the audience, but also providing a youth technical team and many are behind the scenes working on the production.
The most amazing fact about productions from the Summer Youth Project is the whole project is executed in just two weeks…..yes I haven’t made a typo, the whole annual Summer Youth Project family produce a spectacular production in just under a fortnight, this is from the start of the project to the finished five performances. In able to achieve the mammoth task of a full scale musical in an unbelievable amount of time, the Summer Youth Project are provided with a highly skilled creative team to assist and guide the team.
Wyvern Theatre’s Theatre Director Derek Aldridge gave a speech before the show to us in the pre-show hospitality room about the project and the Wyvern Foundation. Derek stated about the hard work gone into the performance and I like the fact even the staff at The Wyvern are all so proud of the cast on and off stage. Everyone across the board was getting involved in the excitement, we even were given smudges upon arrival which Josie thought was brilliant.
Consider Yourself One Of Us!
The Summer Youth Project have produced many productions over the past 24 years, and this year was the turn of the classic Oliver directed by Maggie Rawlinson. I used to love the film Oliver, and for some reason is one film we haven’t got round to watching as a family. Watching the production made me remember how much I loved the film. I brought Josie-Ann along to watch this performance of Oliver, Josie loves films, musicals and theatre so she was my perfect companion for this show.
Upon taking our seats at The Wyvern Theatre, straight away the set looked outstanding. I wasn’t expecting a fully designed set to the level this was. Straight away you feel like you are watching a professional production. As the lights drop and the stage lighting commences, suddenly swarms of youngsters started appearing using the aisles and stage and all singing beautifully. I loved how the production used all areas of the theatre. This means the large Summer Youth Project can show off each person, even the performers who haven’t got principle roles were still all given their moments to shine. I thought this was a lovely effect and really shows everyone gets their opportunity to be on the stage.
The whole set worked all the way through the production, slightly changing depending on the current scene in play. Each set change was swiftly changed and again all looked professional. from the high numbers from the start of the production appearing and all in the correct places, each person knowing exactly their position and the delivery of the first song I could now get out of my head all of this has been done in under two weeks.
Casting was indeed superbly chosen. The performers who was chosen to star for the principles roles were perfect at their roles. Oliver (Cory White) was uncanny to Oliver in the film, and was perfectly portrayed. All of the roles were so outstanding and seriously I would struggle to pick out performers that shone as each and every performer put in over 100% into their roles and each performer was simply outstanding. Nancy (Rhea Thorpe) was excellent with the accent, her singing was perfect. The way Rhea brought the character to life was superb along with her sidekick Bet (Imogen Timms). One character that I disliked in the film but absolutely loved on the Summer Youth Project performance was Mr Bumble (Toby Kearney), he was brilliantly showcased and I much preferred the way Toby portrayed the character.
One of the most known characters, The Artful Dodger (Michael Kerr) again was just like the film showcasing the likeable cheeky charm of the lovable character. One character that I did think I wonder how they portray was Fagin (Archie Fisher). Archie was actually nothing short of amazing. The way he performed and executed the character, showing the style of Fagin was out of this world. Watching Archie perform you totally forgot he is only a 16 year old lad, you completely get drawn in to believing he is actually Fagin. The way Archie portrayed his character was unbelievable, the solo song Archie performance of ‘Rewriting The Situation’ was amazing, not just because of the singing but also the acting of the musical number.
I don’t know any of the cast personally, but you can’t help feeling so proud of them all watching the performance. Each performer shone in their own right. The high quality performances the performers brought to the stage shows with the dedication and commitment they have shown with the incredible time of producing Oliver that the cast of the Summer Youth Project are destined for amazing careers. I must also state again, even the technical side was flawless and the backstage crew get easily forgotten about, but you can see how much work they also have put in to the show.
The performance was so high quality that you honestly felt like you was watching a West End production. One of the many highlights watching the production was how much the enjoyment shone through the performers. Each member of the Summer Youth Project was in there element performing. The big musical numbers was one of my personal favourites throughout the performance. The flawless choreography and musical numbers were spectacular and of West End quality. I absolutely loved after the outstanding finale performance of ‘Food Glorious Food, Consider Yourself, I’d Do Anything’ (Reprise) the audience applauded and the cast received standing ovations for their extraordinary performance. The part I noticed is how much all of the cast members faces shown at this moment. Each and every performers faces were beaming which I am sure this makes the extreme hard work totally worth it. They all also look like they have made some great friends which is another bonus from attending the project.
Thank you to the Wyvern Theatre for inviting us and a huge thank you to the Summer Youth Project for a spectacular performance. If you would like to find out more about the Summer Youth Project then click here for details. Josie was absolutely blown away with the show (and turned 9 this week) is desperate to join the project in 2019 for their performance of Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. At the time of writing this the last show of Oliver is tonight, but you can buy tickets online at Swindon Wyvern Theatre for each of the performances the Summer Youth Project show.
See the lastest shows on at The Wyvern Theatre here.
*** The Wyvern Theatre invited us to review the show and exchanged us tickets in return. All comments and thoughts are my own words and completely honest. Photo credits to Vicki Blatchley.
If you are looking for something to do in the last few weeks of Summer Holidays then why not go down to The Mall at Cribbs Causeway and join in the fun as part of their Summer Unleashed event and see exclusive sculptures from Gromit Unleashed 2
The Mall at Cribbs Causeway located in Bristol, are hosting fantastic fun activities to help celebrate and raise money for The Grand Appeal. In total so far The Grand Appeal has raised over £50 million for Bristol Children’s Hospital.
Previous trails have been Gromit Unleashed in 2013, and Shaun In The City in 2015. We only managed a few Shaun In The City finds, but we do own some sculptures. My favourite figure we own being Sparkles The Unicorn, the sculpture of this was sold in auction for a whopping £25,000.
This year the trail is Gromit Unleashed 2 which Gromit is the headlining star, but this time he is also joined by his good friend and cheese loving owner Wallace and the criminal mastermind Feathers McGraw. I love the fact this time the sculptures aren’t limited to one character.
The trail runs from 2nd July to 2nd September, and you have over 60 sculptures to find. You can log these on the Gromit Unleashed app like we have been doing, which we love as the app also acts as a map for you to find more sculptures for those selfie opportunities. This is super fun to go on a Gromit Unleashed hunt during the holidays and trying to find your favourites.
If you do visit the fun of Summer Unleashed at The Mall then you will be lucky enough to find 3 exclusive sculptures, we had great fun following the footsteps to find each of the characters. Our favourite on the day had to be Gromit P.Sullivan, we love Monsters Inc. and the fact he is also furry was fantastic. You can also locate Wallace as Spock and Feathers McGraw as In-cog-nito which is very special indeed as he has moving cogs. Remember to mark these down on your Gromit Unleashed 2 app to add to your collection of finds.
Gromit P. Sullivan
Also you can find a special Feathers McGraw in one of the stores, keep an eye weekly on The Mall social media pages for clues where he may be. You can go in a draw to win £100 and win tickets for the Gromit Unleashed 2 Exhibition which is being hosted by The Mall. The exhibition show is called ‘The Greatest Dog Show on Earth 2’ and is on from 15th-30th September. You will be able to see all of the sculptures under one roof. Perfect for if you have missed a couple on the trail. This is the last chance to see the sculptures before they head off for auction to raise further funds. Tickets are available for the exhibition here.
In addition to finding these 3 exclusive sculptures, during the Summer you can visit the outdoor pop up cinema. This is located outside the TopShop entrance, but in the event of the weather taking a turn for the worse you will be able to find the cinema on the lower lever outside M&S. The day we went was typically raining, so we headed inside to watch the first showing of the day.
The cinema showing free screenings is open throughout the summer holidays on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays between 11am-4pm. Each show is 30 minutes long and shows classic Aardman animations. The kids loved this as you have headphones, so you can listen and not get distracted by people shopping around you. There are beanbags for the kids and chairs so parents can also sit and enjoy a few minutes peace before going on the search for more Gromit Unleashed 2 sculptures.
Before you enter the cinema you are greeted by Cinemama and Poppacorn characters, Rowan not being a people person wasn’t sure, but Josie who is a social butterfly absolutely loved this. The characters were involving all of the kids, even unsociable Rowan which as brilliant (he did come round to enjoying this). The kids learnt how to walk down the red carpet and pose like a hollywood star, then you can enter the cinema and get comfortable on the rainbow selection of beanbags.
Cinemamma and Poppacorn
Not only that, you can also ride the Summer Train which children are £2 each and accompanying adults go free, proceeds go to The Grand Appeal. The train runs Tuesdays, Thursdays and the weekend. The kids have been on the train other times we have visited and absolutely love this. Plus what a fabulous way to bribe them to be good with the promise of a train ride, plus you are helping to raise money for such an amazing cause.
Plus outside the TopShop entrance is the popular vintage carousel which is £2 per child. The kids love this when we go to The Mall for the Winter Wonderland at Christmas to see Santa and go Ice Skating.
There is so much to do at The Mall Summer Unleashed event, then after you could go searching around Bristol for more Gromits. We are off searching for more sculptures on Friday and then hopefully will get along to the exhibition as we really want to see Marshall, Wallace in Wonderland and Sprinkles if we don’t manage to find them before the trail ends. Plus there is the Gromit Unleashed Store located on the upper mall level which we always visit. They have some fabulous artwork designs of Feathers McGraw and lots of figures and other fantastic memorabilia to purchase. I hope they do the figures for Gromit Unleashed 2 like previous years as Josie already as her eye on her favourites and I know Rowan would love Marshall for his room.
Seeing the sculptures and going to the pop up cinema was indeed the kids favourite activities that day, they love watching all of the Aardman Animations. We all love watching them as a family and they never get old to watch, my personal favourite character has to be Shaun The Sheep. We had a fabulous day out and the fact the fun activities made a shopping trip for mummy to also be very enjoyable for the children. I like the fact they have incorporated the fun of Gromit Unleashed 2 and extended the fun of finding the sculptures, while also helping to raise further funds for The Grand Appeal.
Have you been on any of the trails? Which is your favourite sculpture to date?
*** The Mall, Cribbs Causeway invited us to the event. All words and review are all honest and my own. You can follow The Mall on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter using @MallCribbs
Hashtags are content creators best friends, along with keywords. Finally YouTube has decided to join using Hashtags in their search features. Don’t fret if you haven’t spotted the new latest feature, as I am going to make sure you are all updated on YouTube Hashtags.
You may have seen in my last blog post that Pinterest has started allowing hashtags in pin descriptions, if you missed this new feature then head over here. Youtube is the latest site to add hashtags for an extended searching feature.
I spotted this totally by accident whilst watching a video on YouTube, above the title was three hashtags. Not just any hashtags either. These were hashtags with hyperlinks. I clicked on one of the YouTube hashtags which was of interest and quicker than I could blink, there was more videos and all with the applicable hashtag that I had previously searched.
Looking further into this I have gone and found out more about the new feature of YouTube hashtags to share with you, and of course how you can do this and amend your own content. Please note this feature is only visible on desktop versions of YouTube and currently not available on iOS apps.
Youtube Hashtags are in hyperlink format, as you click on these you will go to related content. Below shows after the hashtags are applied to the video you can see this just above the video title.
To get hashtags on your videos, you need to add these in the description. YouTube will show the first 3 hashtags you use. You can go up to fifteen, but I would go for quality over quantity. You can add the hashtags anywhere in your video description.
You do need to make sure you use relevant hashtags and take into account you don’t overtag and go over the 15 hashtags as YouTube will ignore all of them and possibly may even remove your video. Also misleading hashtags will also result in removal of your video.
Editing Your Video
You can edit past videos if you choose, or just carry on with the new feature from new uploads. If you wish to edit past videos I have a couple of tips.
You can either do this bulk, or you can do each individual upload. Remember to add the YouTube hashtags to the relevant videos if doing this in bulk.
Open YouTube Creator
Go to Edit Videos
Select the relevant videos
Click on Actions
On the dropdown menu select Descriptions and add the YouTube hashtags
You can can choose to Append to Start/End
Click Submit and your all done
For new uploads you can amend this in the defaults, this would be ideal if you do the same videos. Again remembering the hashtags have to be relevant. Changing the defaults can be done again in YouTube Creator Studio and in the channel section you can upload defaults.
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As with any other platform that uses keywords and hashtags, you can search these before hand. As this is a new feature I wouldn’t expect huge results in YouTube until this gets used more. With any new feature this takes a while to evolve. I have tried researching hashtags I would use and there is results appearing for my searches. When searching, make sure you use a hashtag symbol as searching without will show different results compared to those when the symbol is used.
The hashtags have their own algorithm and are more of a category system. Still one thing the YouTube Hashtags do bring is an easiness in searching for related videos. Hopefully as the new features starts building YouTube can sort a way for the algorithm to benefit everyone using the platform, this way the videos discovered through clickable links can improve their watch-time.
Have you started adding hashtags to your content, or do you plan to add for future uploads?
I was guilty of not being on the Pinterest bandwagon for driving traffic to your website. After weeks of research and coming up with a Pinterest strategy, in 2 weeks my Pinterest has grown along with traffic towards my website. I am going to give you some tips on how you can also grow your Pinterest profile and improve your traffic. Keep reading to find out how to grow your Pinterest, also I have included a free download checklist…I know, I spoil you!
I have been spending every available opportunity researching so many different Pinterest strategies, attending webinars and listening to podcasts to create my own strategy. Hopefully I can help you with some tips I have learnt along my journey. This guide is to help you to start your Pinterest profile.
As a blogger I often see many comments on social media regarding Pinterest. People not knowing where to start, getting confused by the mass information available, even not knowing the latest methods as we all love these apps but everything has to revolve and there are constantly new changes happening. I was one of these bloggers, until taking the time to research and bringing in a strategy which took me a good week (I am a working mummy so time is minimal), and I started noticing after a few days a growth in traffic on Pinterest and even better, traffic to my blog. I am one of these people that likes to act fast and see faster results.
Pinterest is not a social media site, Pinterest is a visual search engine
I was using Pinterest completely the wrong way for driving traffic to my site….FACT! I would go on intermittently to the app and mainly use for boards of recipes, ideas for decorating, collection of quotes for my letterboards. The main reason this was wrong is that my blog isn’t about any of these boards. You can see more about this further on.
I have been using my new strategy of growing my Pinterest account to be SEO friendly for just under a fortnight, and the rewarding statistics have already started rolling in. I have done a few pins of my own and one pin in particular has brought in the bulk of the traffic, which is linked my Productivity Habits post.
From being non existent, this is how much my profile has grown in under two weeks. You can see by the percentage at the rise. I have also grown over 60 additional followers, the benefit of this is the followers want to see the content I am pinning which should provide a more organic engagement. This may seem small at the moment but the rate this has grown has been so impressive for my hard work in sorting my Pinterest profile.
Traffic to my website has grown and without trying, I am getting a minimum of 50 new views a day from the one popular pin about Productivity Habits. I am positive the more I pin and engage with other pinners, the more I am going to increase this amount. On my Pinterest Profile I was getting 860 unique monthly viewers, then last week this went up to 1.4k unique monthly viewers. Realtime while writing this post I am on 7.7k views, and average this has risen to 3.7k. So you can see how much you can grow your profile.
LETS GET STARTED
First basis is to change your profile to a Business Profile. This can be done in settings and will enable you to see analytics on your growth, also this will enable you to claim your website. I downloaded a plug in called ‘Insert Headers and Footers’ for this part.
Next you want to make sure your bio is on point, I like to brand my profile picture form my blog but this is a personal preference. The most important part is make sure your bio has a description, use relevant keywords to your niche, business or brand. A big part of Pinterest is keywords, these will be your new best friends.
Also a cool feature is your cover photo, you can edit this to show recent pins. I have mine set up to my Simply Stacey Board, so this will just show my pins.
Finally sign up for Rich Pins, you can get to the link here. That is step one done! You have officially started your Pinterest journey.
Before my huge tidy up with my boards, I had boards for everything going. Nail designs, recipe ideas, hair goals….lets see if you notice something. If you follow me you may pick up on this little warning flag. These boards are nothing to do with my Simply Stacey brand. I may do an odd post later on about my slimming world journey on my channel, I may load a picture up of my freshly painted nails on my Instagram….one thing is apparent though….I DON’T PRODUCE REGULAR CONTENT FOR THESE SUBJECTS.
You need to keep your boards relevant for your niche, brand or business. You had spent the time producing your bio which included your keywords of what your brand or business are about, but then pinning something completely random. I am not saying don’t pin images for your own use at all, we all have been there with a hairstyle from pinterest to show your stylist and you want to keep this in a hair goals board. The key to this is any personal boards keep secret. Think of your pinterest profile as a visual show of your brand and website. Do you want to sell content that you don’t cover regularly.
Another main point is edit your board, make sure you fill a board description, again remember keywords. Ideally you will start with 30 pins per board, but just build this up as you go along. I try to rotate my boards to make sure they all start getting filled up with relevant content. You can also create sub boards, again this makes my organised self very happy. For example my Simply Stacey board is split across my channels. I am going to be adding my newly added categories to this shortly.
MY PINTEREST BOARDS BEFORE
You don’t have to go as far as producing board covers, but I am a sucker for neatness and things like this makes me happy. I like everything matching, using colours of my brand. I won’t go into this now in detail, but if this is something you would like to know about then leave me a note in the comments and I will look at producing a post in the near future. One tip is all of my board covers link to the relevant board url. This was a pain to do, but I love how effective this is, again this is personal preference. I have included before and after photos so you can see a difference.
MY PINTEREST BOARDS AFTER
To grow your Pinterest you need high quality looking pins. I create my Pinterest pins in Canva, there is a set template and layout ideas. I personally have been making a couple of pins per post. Change them up with the style and writing, play on the title wording. This is so you can share a different image later on for your content, but also you can have a look at your trends. I have spotted one of my styles that have been pinned more then the other style I was experimenting with. The optimal pin size you want to create if you are going to freestyle is 2×3, also keep your pins vertical.
I was uploading my pins from scratch, but I have started to insert my main pin in my posts so I can share straight from the site. I have a Pinterest plugin that lets myself or anyone visiting my site to pin an image. As I have included my description and ALT Tags in the photo properties, I know my pin will contain the keywords needed.
By now you will guess what I am going to say, remember keywords. In your pin description make sure you complete a description for the photo ensuring keywords are used. One of the new changes this year on Pinterest is hashtags, I love me a hashtag. You can search by keyword or by hashtag in Pinterest. Just make sure you only keep hashtags in the description box, also keep them relevant, same with the keywords. One tip on keywords and hashtags, is when content planning make sure you have a search on Pinterest. You can also do this for titles for posts or graphics.
Another tip, don’t be disheartened if a pin isn’t doing as well as you wanted. I have pinned a handful and one has gone huge on re-pins and views. One this gives you an idea of the pins that are successful and you can go on to produce more content about similar. On the other hand pins last a lifetime, if a pin isn’t popular now, it doesn’t mean it may not be popular in say a year from now. Don’t delete pins if you can help it, you could always produce a fresh new pin with a different image going to the original content url, try different titles and keywords.
So you are now ready to grow your Pinterest. Create pins to promote your content, just don’t be spammy. Also remember you can pin to a multiple of boards, but you want to spread this out. Also your pin should be to the main board first if doing multiples. One brilliant tip is the first 5 pins of the day are your most important pins. You ideally want your pins in with these 5, this is because in the awesome new tab ‘following’ you can now see who you are following and Pinterest will show 5 pins at a time from that person. Your others will be show throughout the day, but this is why the first 5 are your most important. Also remember what we talked about earlier, pin relevant images to relevant boards for your brand. This is also why with the new tab available, your followers are expecting to see what they signed up for and not random pins. For UK the BST time for next day is from 1am, you can search for your regions if any different.
To make Pinterest happy and to become an ‘Active Pinner’ yes you can have a title, and for Pinterest to place your pins in the Smart Feed (this is the default page of recommended and promoted pins when you first open the app) then you need to adhere to the following:
Sign up as a business
Claim website url
Be an active pinner
YAY! You have already done two of the requirements, so next is to be an Active Pinner. Before I had seen posts that you need to pin regularly and minimum of 50 pins a day. Well on a recent webinar with an employee from Pinterest, this was clarified on the quantity. As long as you are consistent, then Pinterest are happy. Remember quality over quantity, Pinterest want high quality pins, which includes keywords, hashtags over a massive quantity of pins. Also you don’t want to be spamming, this is another reason that Pinterest show 5 pins at a time. So even if you just pin 5 pins a day, as long as the pins are high quality and consistent then this is fine. I personally tend to pin average 20 pins throughout the day, keeping in mind the first 5 pins are your most important.
My strategy on actively pinning is, I pin everyday through Tailwind scheduling app. I could not live without this app, it has been a godsend. As I said before, I am a working mummy so i am all about the scheduling, this is the only way I can run my brand. One tip is if you use Tailwind is to download the browser extensions, this is so much easier. I can schedule any image with this that I come across. Also the shuffle button is pretty awesome. When I have scheduled a load of pins, like before some pins may be in multiple boards then I press shuffle and quicker than you can blink, all your posts are mixed. But doing this you also need to remember to check your first 5 pins of the day.
If you would like to try Tailwind, there is fabulous tutorials on their site and I will go through this in detail on future posts then you can sign up for a free trial. I have a code so you get $15 which is a month free to try the app (Disclaimer: I will also get $15), you can cancel anytime if you go for the monthly option. You can get the code here. Tailwind is super easy to do once you get the hang of it. I pin 12 pins a day with tailwind and then whenever a spare few minutes pin a couple more through checking the Smart Feed and Following Tab, or simply search a subject.
You also want to make sure you pin other content, not just your own. One you wouldn’t have that many pins of your own and two you don’t want to spam. One good way is to join Group Boards. Each one has different rules to join, normally you have to email the owner and request to join. The majority you need to repin an image for every pin you upload. The easiest way I find these is to see who you follow are joined to by searching their boards. Again keep the boards relevant to your brand. I have joined a handful which you can check out on my profile.
Remember the main tip….be consistent. If you pin 10 pins a day, keep at this. You may chose to pin more, but the main thing is to be consistent in order to grow your Pinterest.
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I will be covering some of these elements in further posts and broke down in more detail on my blog, and soon I want to start content for this on my YouTube channel. Also you can sign up to my new email subscription to receive my new monthly newsletter here, and from time to time I will be sending some help guides and tips which may be of interest.
I hope this post can help you in someway break the steps down easily and help you to start to grow your Pinterest and traffic. To make the steps easier to understand, I have made a free download checklist which you can grab below.
Also remember to pin this article to your own board, that way you can come back to this post if needed. Plus if anything changes I will amend this page. I would love to ask one massive favour, I want to know how you get on to grow your Pinterest and if you start getting results. If you do then please comment on my pin and let me know how you get on. And if you have any problems then please do contact me and I will try to help you the best I can.
Since starting my strategy to grow your Pinterest, I can now say from using the app once every few months that I have been using this on my top apps to update. I am no expert and by all means you don’t have to follow this word for word, but hopefully you will find some use in this post. My whole outlook on Pinterest has completely changed, and I had no idea how powerful Pinterest can be for your brand.
***Discalimer | Some links have affiliate links, which means I get a small thank you for referrals. I only recommend what I myself use.
Are looking at improving your online presence, looking at growing your social media content and followers, encouraging to drive more traffic to your content and improving personal growth, then have you thought of the help from podcasts? Entrepreneur and Content Creator Podcasts have been extremely beneficial in helping me grow my brand in the right direction and these can also help you. If you are a budding entrepreneur or influencer then make sure you go and have a listen to my Top 5 Podcasts for growing your personal brand.
One benefit of commuting an hour and a half each day to work and back home, is this gives me precious time to help motivate myself for the day ahead at work, or on the way home ready to build content for my side hustle Simply Stacey. This precious time was spent wasted from screeching through my latest playlist on Spotify, but since calendar blocking, I have found a golden nugget window of time that I can use productively to help me grow one of my passions which is my brand, Simply Stacey.
Recently I experienced my first audio book experience and surprisingly I absolutely enjoyed listening whilst commuting. I have only listened to non fiction audiobooks so far as to be honest they are the ones that I would struggle to read. I am not a big reader and whilst driving to work, I am able to complete an audiobook in a week easy which is time otherwise spent thinking of the tasks ahead, groceries needed, chores to do. This way listening and using my time of commuting to an advantage has helped open a whole new world of motivational books which has naturally led me to listen to podcasts.
One recommendation which I am currently loving is to download Castro app for podcasts. The library is much more friendly and so much easier to find your favourite podcasts, plus if you have an apple watch then this app is also compatible. Gosh I am spoiling you lot today with my knowledge bombs and amazing finds.
The podcasts app for me was always unused in my music folder. I have tried previously looking in the Podcast charts and being unable to find anything of interest. Until recently I spotted on Instagram a link to a parenting Podcast Happy Mum Happy Baby hosted by Giovanna Fletcher and loved listening to the interviews, each one perfect in time for my commuting to work. Now I have my podcasts going constantly, even Josie loves listening on the way to school run.
Merging this new find of Podcasts and my obsession of growing my personal brand, I now have a bundle of Podcasts in my library ready for me to extract information from. I am completely thriving on learning new strategies and ways to improve my personal brand and also aid my personal growth. There is so much information and experiences to listen to over Podcasts and these are free resources, hours of strategies and recommended improvements to help you grow your brand.
There are so many great interviews and free advice to use and implement into your blog or business, and these are some of my favourites so far…..just a warning some of these are old so may not be updated as often, but you can download archive episodes (beats waiting for new episodes). The moment you have been waiting for, here is my Top 5 Podcasts For Growing Your Personal Brand…
I absolutely love Amy TV the YouTube Channel and Amy’s best selling book Vlog Like A Boss is a must have book for all aspiring vloggers. I totally love Amy, she is such an inspiring person and is where my goals and inspiration to make the most of my brand has come from. On Amy’s channel you can find advice to go after the life you want, from organising yourself and being productive to awesome editing tips for your brand.
Episodes you need to listen too:
Episode 143: Get More Attention On Your Videos
Episode 142: How To Take Off On YouTube Featuring Pat Flynn
Episode 136: The Difference Between YouTube and Facebook Videos
Jessica is my hair twin! I found Jessica originally on her YouTube Channel, which is how I became obsessed with Trello. Jessica gives you excellent tips for you to be Video Rockstars and helps with content and digital marketing.
Episodes you need to listen too:
Episode 006: How To Get Found On YouTube
Episode 013: How To Get Comfortable On Camera
Episode 007: What You Need For Every Blog Post You Publish
You will see a pattern emerging here….Guess where I first come across Sunny Lenarduzzi? Yes, another excellent YouTuber. Sunny is my most recent find and the style of her videos really is nothing short of amazing. The Sunny Show Podcast also does not disappoint. At the time of this post, The Sunny Show is still current so you can expect new uploads regularly.
Episodes you need to listen too:
#022: High Performance Habits to Build a World Class Business with Todd Herman
#015: Miracle Morning -Morning Motivation That Will Change You
I love the vast amount of topics Jenna covers in her Podcast, there is a large catalogue of episodes to choose from. The Gold Digger Podcast is a relatively new subscription for me, but I am enjoying the episodes and have found them completely motivating and easy to understand. I also love the fact there is a mixture of varied timings for the episodes, for example some are 8 minutes (perfect if clearing up after dinner) and some are 45 minutes (perfect for my commute). At the time of this post, The Goal Digger Podcast is still current so you can expect new uploads regularly.
Episodes you need to listen too:
158: Calling All Introverts: How Can You Build a Personable Brand
155: How I Doubled My Instagram Growth in One Month
Bonus 012: 5 Ways To Boost Productivity Working From Home
The Influencer Podcast is another new one I have started listening too, and another one of my favourites. Julie has an impressive catalogue of episodes and guests each sharing strategies to help you become your own leading influencer. Also like the above Podcast there is a varied content in which you have longer interviews with leading professionals, then there is Influencer Insights which are shorter in length and great for strategies to help you grow your personal brand. At the time of this post, The Influencer Podcast is still current so you can expect new uploads regularly.
Episodes you need to listen too:
068: Everything You Need To Know About Growing A Blog
002: Instagram Growth & Effective Social Media Marketing
Influencer Insights 011: The Influencers Guide to Productivity
Pin Me | Sharing Is Caring
I hope you enjoy listening to some of the above and I would love to know your feedback, or perhaps you have further recommendations for other Podcasts not mentioned.
July has been eventful hasn’t it, we have had World Cup, heatwaves, the start of Love Island and more importantly I have had some fabulous days with my babies. See what we have been up to in Siblings Project July
The Siblings Project July
I can’t believe we only have a couple of weeks until the schools break up for summer holidays. I honestly do not know where the time has gone. Josie will be going into year 5 in September, and then comes the hyperventilating as next year I am going to have to put Josie down for which secondary school and put Rowan’s name down for starting school.
Being a parent in the holidays is completely exhausting. Being a working mummy consists of juggling childcare and fun. Rowan is still at nursery so this gives me some time with Josie, plus I need to also work. I am lucky in the respect that I can mix up working form home and myself and Antony will share looking after the kids. The juggling of 6 weeks of childcare does have it’s advantages as the days you do have together are even more special. The last few years Josie has gone to summer day camps but she is at the age she doesn’t want too. She loves me working from home as she can have a chill day as she calls it.
I really do cherish the moments I spend with the children, memory making at every available opportunity. I am going to try and do a plan of activities as August is an awful month money wise as we also have Josie’s birthday, plus days out also Josie is like a dustbin and in the holidays she eats me out of house and home.
So this month we finally went to the Chilli and Cheese Festival at Lydiard Park in Swindon. We wanted to go last year as Antony is like Wallace from Wallace and Gromit when it comes to cheese but we missed it as we was away. This year we braved the heatwave and attempted to go. It was a lovely few hours, but not even being dramatic it was way too hot, the kids weren’t coping with the heat so we decided to call it a day. You can catch our day on my recent vlogging episode below:
However we did get some fabulous photos in this time, one being the main feature photo above. I absolutely loved this picture as this captures both of their characters perfect. With their vast height difference, getting a photo of them together is fun and games. But this was one of those moments which I wasn’t expecting to capture such a beautiful photo of them both.
This past few weeks, you can really see Josie is growing up and her features are all changing again. Josie absolutely loved doing Josie-Cam on our day in the life (I did have to cut 20 minutes off) that girl can chat! We have had tons of school events, again another tricky time when working, plus working 45 minutes away from her school so it is not easy to just pop in to an event.
We have had Josie’s KS2 School Play, which she was a monkey. Obviously she was my favourite monkey by far. She also has had her sports day and school fair. During the fair she showed off with her peers their cheerleading skills, they have been doing this as an after school activity which Josie has really enjoyed.
Coming up we have Josie-Ann’s birthday next month, she was just before the school cut off so she is the youngest in her year. We are taking her to the Harry Potter studio tours in Watford on her birthday, which she is so excited about. I love how she is still as excited about her birthday as she was at Rowan’s age.
Surprisingly Rowan has also changed in character, both good and bad. The terrible two’s has certainly kicked in and he has been extremely testing at times, but he has the most adorable mischievous face just as he is about to do something naughty and the cheesiest smile when he is doing something in which he is not meant to be doing.
The biggest change has been, finally Rowan has been coming out of his shy shell. Before he wouldn’t make eye contact or talk to anyone other than us or nanny, this is why I love vlogging especially as people can see he can talk and smile. But recently he has come on leaps and bounds. At home he is talking in full paragraphs, but he has also been saying the odd work to people. We went this weekend to do Rowan’s favourite weekend treat of going to the bakery for a cake, and he even said ‘bye’ this was a big deal for Rowan. He even gave mum’s friend a kiss and cuddle…see this has been a massive improvement.
I hope you have enjoyed reading our Siblings Project July, and would love to hear of any days out recommendations for the summer.
Finally we have all been germ free! Apart from suffering with hayfever, as I write this I am sneezing away and trying to refine from scratching my eyes out. I have not suffered this bad for ages and have seen this year pollen is high due to a delayed spring. It also turns out that Rowan (aka my sickly child) also is suffering from hayfever. Anyone who suffers with this will know this can put a strain on enjoying the warm months of the year. I desperately want to plan exciting days out, but also know I will suffer for a few days after the event.
Yesterday we went out for the day, my hayfever was already at an all time high as Antony cut the grass the previous day (I am seriously contemplating astroturf this moment in time)so thought might as well just go for it, plus to make the most of the sunshine and some quality family time with the children.
Recently we purchased a family New Zealand Heritage pass as recommended by my lovely blogger friend Emily at A Slummy Mummy blog. I recently downloaded The National Trust app for ideas of places nearby, as we want ideas for days out and some beautiful places for me to practice improving photography skills. I was surprised that the app had so many beautiful places and not just houses, which is what I thought The National Trust was to be honest. We looked at passes but couldn’t afford the amount for the family pass, then Emily said about an awesome tip of purchasing New Zealand Heritage as the passes work over here and are a fraction of the price, the only thing not included is car parking.
We are lucky living in Wiltshire, how many places are near so we don’t have far to travel. We went on our first trip and went to Avebury, I was amazed this beautiful village is only half an hour away from us. We went to Lockeridge Dene first and the kids went jumping around like wild feral animals in the field of sarsen stones. Then we wanted to go and get some pictures and have a picnic near the stone circle in Avebury, unfortunately so did a huge number of other people and parking was literally impossible.
So with two ravenous children moaning in the heat, we headed back near home and went to the beautiful Lydiard Park and sent up a picnic, played football and blowed bubbles. Sometimes you forget how memorable cheap days out are and how you don’t have to go spending a fortune on an exciting day out. Randomly we done a similar thing last week, we had tea and the kids were arguing, so we all went on a dog walk, kids on the bikes and went to the park. It was brilliant as we had this to ourselves and the kids got to unload a load of steam before bed. The kids had such a lovely time, and just shows spending time together, no matter how or cost wise has such an impact on memories for you children to remember. I am sure the past couple of weeks they will remember the fun we had and do the same with their children in the future….oh gosh I just had a vision of me as a granny!
We are hoping to do some more local events and days out, maybe even fit in some geocaching as the kids absolutely love doing this. One thing I want to try as on my Slimming World diet and the kids are obsessed with fruit is going to a local ‘Pick Your Own’ farm, it is one of those things we keep meaning to do but never get round to this for some reason. So hopefully this will be the year.
Do you have days you plan to be productive and get that stuff done, but things get in the way or even worse procrastination kicks in? Well see my Top 3 Daily Habits that are tried and tested by myself and how I make the day a success….
Whatever your situation, whether you work or stay at home, a parent or child free, like cats or dogs….we all need moments in our day to be productive. This can be something simple as being a domestic goddess and having a long list of jobs from cleaning to washing, this is still being productive.
You don’t need to be working to be productive, you can be productive any moment of any day for any task. This could be a small list of a couple of tasks or a job you have been meaning to do every day for the past month but can’t get round to it, or in my case multiples of lists.
Being a working mummy with a demanding job to stay productive and super organised, I always search for new ways to help productivity shine out of me like sunbeams. I don’t just try to be productive at work, I try to incorporate this into my life in general. I have a home to maintain, children to look after and then there is running my blog and YouTube channel which any blogger will know how much work goes into this. Updating social media, scheduling posts, being a photographer plus many more. So you can see why productivity is needed in my life, otherwise the house would be empty of food, children would be running feral, and you would not be reading this post.
I have brought in over the past month daily habits which help me to be productive. These really have helped myself and hopefully may help you too. Keep reading for my Top 3 Daily Habits…
GET UP EARLY
Trust me, you will be surprised by this one. It totally works and days I do this, I am way more awake and the productivity is oozing out of me before I even get to work.
One sneaky tip for this one, if you struggle getting up early and tempted to hit that snooze button then you must try the ‘5 Second Rule’. I seen this by Mel Robbins, you count down like a rocket launch…. 5, 4, 3, 2, 1 and move. Get up out of bed and get moving. Doing this method stops your brain killing the idea of hitting the snooze button.
Another tip is plan the night what you want to achieve in the morning. Do you want to be productive and get that blog post done, have some extra work to catch up on or simply have breakfast in peace. This is the moment you can gain some spare time, which you would have not previously had.
I normally do this 2-3 times a week on workdays, I will get up at 5am instead of 7am and first I will make myself a cuppa. I like to plan my day and calendar blocking (more of this in a moment) and then do a task in piece, normally this is blog/vlog related. Can be anything from editing or editorial planning to scheduling posts.
I want to start doing this each work day and start incorporating some workout and fitness time too. . I always make sure I have 7 hours sleep and aim before I go to bed, the desired time to set my alarm. Again you can plan this using calendar blocking. This really does make a huge difference and for me, I don’t get huge amounts of time by myself, this helps me wake up and have a sanity couple of hours before the arguments of getting ready for school begins, I certainly am more calmer in this respect as previously been in a tranquil peaceful setting, plus feel super productive from planning my day and achieving a few tasks.
I have seen about calendar blocking a few times now and always admired the idea. Until recently, I hadn’t tried calendar blocking but the first day I tried this secret of productivity…..no lie, I got a huge amount done plus the benefit of being super organised.
I am currently reading ‘Work Smarter, Live Better’ by Cyril Peupion, and calendar blocking is explained in detail from a work perspective. I have incorporated this throughout my day, literally from waking up to going to bed. Amy Landino states a good way to source spare time to be productive is to block as you go, then you can see when you could save time.
Currently I have found Google Calendars works better for me personally than Outlook which is what Cyril recommends, I use Google Calendars for personal and work. Everything is colour coded, not just to make a beautiful rainbow effect, but to separate and categorise each event and task. I may change this and keep work separate on Outlook, and my day in general on my Google Calendar.
My Calendar Categories I currently use are:
Make It Happen | This is for my everyday generic tasks
Work | Any work related tasks and reminders
Commuting | I lose 1.5 hours a working day commuting, imagine if commuting by train how much I could do in this time
Appointments | The kids social life is better than mine, so any appointments for any of us go under this section
Editorial | Anything SimplyStacey related, from posts to publish to editing
Family Time | Make time to spend with your loved ones
Me Time | Make time for yourself
Things happen during the day which will change your neatly planned day, this is ok. To be honest, this is the part that put me off. I have a need for a perfectly run routine and things like a spanner in the works puts me off the day. But with the beauty of calendar blocking is just move that stuff around. I have found doing my calendar easier to set out fully on the desktop version rather than the app.
The first day I set my calendar up, I got stuff don’t that I have been putting off. I put on my positive pants on, brought out my cube timer (I take this very seriously at all levels) and focused. Then before my timer even had the chance to alert me, by golly I had only done a task that previously I would have kept moving from one day to the next. This is a must to try if you want to set time to be productive, make sure you grab those moments where you do actually have the time, until you calendar block you just might now have known you had those precious moments.
TAKE TIME OUT
This may seem a strange daily habit considering we are aiming to boost productivity. But this has made the biggest difference to my own sanity the past few months. From being unwell and feeling overwhelmed with tasks, at one stage I was feeling exhausted and felt I was like Stretch Armstrong (if yours a 90’s babe you will know what I am on about), I felt i was being pulled at all angles and also feeling extremely suffocated.
I am not one for putting myself first, I never have been. But recently I realised I need to look after myself, I was too busy looking after everyone else, trying to do everything at once. I was watching my favourite girl crush Amy Landino, as I usually do on a Sunday and Wednesday, when one of her videos was her skincare routine. As one of my goals is having the life Amy has, I thought OK, I have some skincare products gathering dust dotted around. I clipped my hair back and then came a new obsession….looking after myself. I now do a skincare routine every morning and evening, take the time to do a face mask and paint my nails.
The main point of this habit is not to make yourself look even more stunning, but we all know this helps you feel more confident in yourself which also can aid you being productive. This habit is to take time out from your busy day and make time for you This can be have a binge on the latest must see Netflix series, go for a walk or do some reading. What ever you makes you feel calm and de-stresses yourself and take time from your usual routine. This completely refreshes you and makes you feel ready to be productive and smash those goals you set yourself.
I have implemented many other daily habits which help me to be at my best, but this by far is currently my favourite Top 3 Daily Habits. Have you tried these habits, or are you planning to?
The theatre production of The Play That Goes Wrong is guaranteed to give you plenty of full on, laugh out loud moments
Currently the production of The Play That Goes Wrong is on UK Tour and I was lucky enough to go along to the press night at our local theatre at The Wyvern in Swindon. The play is on in Swindon from Monday 11th June – Saturday 16th June and was sold out on the opening night that we attended.
The show is a Mischief Theatre production and is currently also showing in London at The Duchess Theatre, the play is in it’s 4th year of production. For a full listing of further shows of the UK Tour please see here.
The show has won an Olivier Award and Whats On Stage Award for Best New Comedy and if you are lucky enough to go and see the production, you can see why the show has won these prestigious awards.
The show is a play within a play, a show produced by the fictional Cornley Polytechnic Drama Society. Straight away during everyone seating the cast was involving the audience, looking for a missing dog and Trevor the Lights and Sounds Technician had lost his Duran Duran CD Box Set. This was amusing to watch when new audience members was turning up and hadn’t a clue what the cast was coming up to ask them. They even got one man on stage before the show started to help hold up parts of the staging which looked like it had been built by my DIY-shy husband.
You get the feeling of a show on show immediately as Trevor starts talking on his ear piece for everyone to take places, then the director of the Cornley Polytechnic Drama Society appears to explain about failed past productions such as Snow White and The Tall Broad Gentleman. This nationwide production of The Murder at Haversham Manor is set out to be one of their most successful productions, or that is what they are hoping as long as nothing goes wrong….which you know by the title this won’t be the case.
The Murder at Haversham Manor is a live Cluedo style story crossed with Faulty Towers style humour, set in the 1920’s. Charles Haversham the owner of Haversham Manor is murdered at his engagement party, and then comes the story of who murdered Charles, along with a series of unfortunate moments which brings the humour and laughter rolling in at every available moment.
Straight from the word go, the mishaps start appearing and each one getting more funnier as the show goes on. The way the cast perform the mistakes is nothing short of hilarious and the acting was so well thought out and you really get the feeling you are watching a small dramatic society play that is going horribly wrong.
Everyone wants their moment to shine but fate is not going the way they had planned. One hilarious actor was Bobby Hirston who plays Max Bennett who was playing Cecil Haversham, during the performance he kept smiling and bowing to the audience as though this is his first ever show and the fact he was immensely proud of himself and found himself funny in the process.
The show was so sleek from one hilarious moment to the next. Each funny line or action seamlessly ran into the next punchline. I am a silent laugher, I very rarely laugh out loud. I of course find things funny and the show completely kept me amused at all times, even to the fact moments made me proper laugh out loud at moments, I even was crying with laughter a few times.
The set design was also well designed and all of the set worked well with the show, and again thought of extremely well to make use of every space on the stage. The stage and set also helps to aid to the experience of the failing performance of the aspiring amateur dramatic performers.
All of the actors involved in The Play That Goes Wrong acted and played their parts superbly. You really get to know their own characters, who are playing characters for the production. Another favourite of mine was Kazeem Tosin Amore who played Robert acting as Thomas Colleymore, in the second half there is a tummy aching, getting a stitch as you laugh at the mishap himself and the director of the production get into with the set. I won’t give anything away, but this was one of my favourite scenes.
As with when I publish product reviews and trying a new product fo the first time, this play and experience has left us wanting to see more shows that we wouldn’t have thought of normally. We tend to go to the pantomime each year and shows for the kids, but we haven’t made an evening of it and go to watch a show together which is something we want to try and do more.
Myself and my husband Antony thoroughly enjoyed laughing our way through the catastrophic production so much, that we booked tickets to take Josie to go and watch as this is suitable for all ages from 8+, I know she will find this extremely funny.
Overall I didn’t expect to enjoy The Play That goes Wrong as much as I did and I would urge you to make sure you catch this show in a town near you. I can’t imagine anyone would not find this hilarious, and would not enjoy the production. Everything has been completely well rehearsed and thought out to bring a flawless performance, each joke runs straight into another one. One thing I admired was, the show also wasn’t predictable. Yes you know something is going to go wrong on more than one occasion, that is most certain just from the title. But the majority of the gags and mishaps I wasn’t expecting and this really does keep the audience glued to the performance.
I certainly would give the show 5 stars. The amount of passion the actors and actresses put into the performance really shines and this concludes to an excellent viewing experience for the audience. I challenge you to go and see the show and not laugh within the first 5 minutes of the curtain opening.
Have you been to see The Play That Goes Wrong? I would love to know your thoughts and comments of your experiance of watching the show.
I was lucky enough to be asked to review a new treatment available at The Beauty Spot in Tetbury. An Ultimate A-Lift Facial
The Beauty Spot is based in the beautiful Cotswolds, in Tetbury. Hayley opened The Beauty Spot in 2016 after previous years working in beauty salons and going mobile. The salon has a beautiful modern feel, but also relaxing. I love the salon isn’t clinically white and has lots of character. Hayley has done a tremendous job making the salon her own and adding her style. I used to work in the units where The Beauty Spot is based, we had both sides of the yard before moving to our current premises, the transformation from a cleanroom for medical devices to a stunning salon is amazing.
Going to The Beauty Spot, you are certainly in good hands. Hayley has a real passion for her trade and makes you feel at ease. Any questions you have, she can answer professionally but to a level that you understand. This made me feel at ease as I had never heard of the Ultimate A-Lift Facial before. I had seen mentions of nano currents and something about a peel and was a little nervous, in-fact the treatment is completely non-invasive and chemical free.
The Beauty Spot offers two versions of this treatment. The first being the treatment I was asked to review;
ULTIMATE A-LIFT FACIAL (60 mins) Micro-current and nano-current results driven facial treatment, including supersonic peeling and a relaxing massage. Reduces lines and wrinkles, brightens complexion, strengthens skins natural collagen, increases cell renewal by 500% and lifts facial muscles.
EXPRESS A-LIFT FACIAL (30 mins) Mini treatment focusing on lymph drainage and cell regeneration. Improves appearance of lines and wrinkles. Perfect for people short on time.
I was pleased when Hayley asked me to review this treatment as recently I have been improving my self care. I have started a regime of looking after my skin and doing skincare routines morning and night, so this was excellent timing. Also to take the time out and have some ‘me time’ was much needed.
Any skin types can have this treatment, even sensitive skin You can’t however if you are pregnant, have a pacemaker or open wounds. The thing I loved about the treatment is the results are immediate, great if you are like me and love a visible change. With the Ultimate A-Lift Facial for longer lasting results a course of 10 treatments is advised. Hayley recently uploaded photos on The Beauty Spot’s Instagram page which shows her mum half way through the course and the changes are astounding.
The treatment includes supersonic peeling, this uses the supersonic sound-waves to exfoliate and deep cleanse the skin. Then comes the phases of the A-Lift Facial. Phase 1 is lymphatic drainage, to drain all those nasty toxins away. This sounds horrific, but honestly there is no pain at all.
Two phases of lifting using the micro current to tighten and firm the facial muscles. Before this a lovely cooling gel was applied which was certainly refreshing. Then there are two phases of cell regeneration. The cell regeneration re-charges the skin cells which accelerates cell metabolism and increases the production of collagen.
This has an immediate plumping effect on the skin. The treatment doesn’t end there, the end of the treatment is completed with a lovely relaxing massage.
I was a little nervous from originally not knowing much about the treatment, but honestly this was so relaxing. There was no pain or discomfort at all. I loved it so much I am booked in for next week for another express facial as I don’t need the lift part as such, so Hayley suggested the express one will be fine for my skin. I am so excited already.
I went back to work after my facial and everyone could notice a difference in my skin. I could even see a difference and certainly my skin felt absolutely awesome, and it did for quite a few days. I would throughly recommend this treatment and have been pretty much mentioning it to everyone I can, even the girl in The Body Shop at the weekend had the whole story of the amazing treatment.
To see the treatment in action, and my before and after footage, then please see the below video which I made for my channel…
I didn’t realise until researching the A-Lift Facial, how popular the A-Lift Facial is. Celebrities such as Ellie Goulding rave about this treatment and you can see why. It was surprisingly relaxing and the results were immediate which I loved. I probably wouldn’t have chose this treatment beforehand if I was to book some pamper time, but thats why I love having the chance to review as you try things you wouldn’t have before.
I would like to say a huge thank you to Hayley for asking me to do this review, I am now obsessed with this treatment and can’t wait for my next one.
I would love to know if you are thinking about having the treatment, or have you had it before?
* I was gifted this treatment from The Beauty Spot in exchange for my own views. All wording of the treatment and my views are honest and my own words.
It has been a couple of months since I took part in The Siblings Project, so here is The Siblings Project May.
Grab a cuppa and a biscuit to dunk at lets have a catch up….
This past couple of months has flew by, and both of my children have come on leaps and bounds. I have noticed changes in both, Rowan understandably more noticeable as he is now just over 2 and a half so every day is something new with him.
As a family we have been fairly busy, Antony done a super job updating the garden. We decided to get rid of the big play area that was here when we moved in. I could trust Josie outside but Rowan was an accident waiting to happen as the play slide was too big for him. Josie has fallen off the slide into the bak numerous times and both kids hurt themselves falling on the bark. Then add a puppy who wants to carry the bark and put all over the grass.
We decided to pull it all up and gave the play area away to someone we know. Underneath the bark there was concrete, which Antony and his Dad have pulled all up. Antony used to do gardening in previous jobs which was handy at this precise moment and added the top soil then eventually due to weather got to lay the new turf The garden looks huge now and so much more room for the kids to play.
Next step is to paint the shed and fence and add some pinterest style touches to make it beautiful. I fancy grey fences, I have a thing for grey at the minute and in the garden it looks very effective. We had a lovely BBQ in the garden to christen the new area, which led to me getting stupidly burnt. We also have set up an area at the bottom of the garden for a vegetable patch. We enjoyed growing these last years and Josie loved picking the food and cooking, which Rowan will love this year too.
Josie is still growing at a rapid rate, she is over my shoulder now. She has being doing well at school and we have her class service this week which we are looking forward to watching. I noticed last weekend when filming a ‘Day In The Life’ which you can see here, how much more grown up she is looking. I can’t believe how quick time has gone as she will be 9 in a few months. We have booked to take her to Harry Potter for a birthday treat in Watford which she is super excited about.
Josie has really got into reading recently and has been reading a book a week. She loves the Tom Gates books and her most recent read was Family, Friends and Furry Creatures. The books are brilliantly designed and lots of doodles and hand lettering, which has made Josie starting to do her own lettering designs.
Rowan is getting such a funny character, unfortunately not many people get to see this as he is still not a social butterfly. Nursery mentioned he doesn’t speak much there, Josie was the same she was more comfortable around people they know well. Here however he is saying full on sentences now. Every morning he will tell me what the weather is and he is becoming obsessed with Fireman Sam. We have took him to a couple of theatre shows which he loved, so far he has seen Milkshake Live and Teletubbies.
For a treat near his birthday we are planning on going to the Emergency Services show near us as he loves anything with a siren on. He will love getting to sit in a fire engine especially. He goes so excited when he sees a fire extinguisher, he did however have a stress moment when we lit the BBQ and was calling for Sam and got his little fire engine out.