22/11/2016

Be kind!

You always find out who is there for you when life throws a curve ball at you.  It seems to take bad stuff happening to show you who really cares.  I'm not just talking about things regarding me and mine, but I've seen it so much in other situations recently too.  Life can be so tough but it's the people around us who can make a difference.

I know I've blogged before about random acts of kindness but it really doesn't take much to be kind; to spare a thought for others, to take time to ask how people are and if they're not OK, to be there for them. Whether it is just for a few kind words, a shoulder to cry on or physically being there in some way.  Hugs help a lot!  Doing random acts of kindness is such a brilliant thing which everyone could (and should do).  One of my previous posts is here.

I have found myself thinking a lot lately that I wish I had a magic wand to take all the rubbish away for so many people.  It makes me so sad seeing people suffer for whatever reason but I know I can't do anything other than just let them know I'm here.  Having people there for me too when I've needed it really does help.

I have also been thinking lately about people who are suffering for other reasons and it prompted me to do another collection for our local food bank.  We sometimes take stuff anyway but I thought it would be nice to try and get a bigger box together, especially with the festive season approaching.  Stuff like mince pies and some chocolate treats would make such a massive difference to families and those with children too would be so grateful.

It makes me so sad to think of people who can't afford the very basics. And isn't the festive season all about giving?! I made a few pleas for help on social media but other than a few friends who are donating things, I have had no response!!  I know people may already be doing similar and I know people get sick of seeing charity requests and the like too, but I thought something like giving a few tins or some cartons of juice might be an easy one to help with. It really makes me so sad (and mad) but I should try not to let it dishearten me!!

Something else that upset me recently too was seeing a friend of a friend appealing for help from people to sign up to the bone marrow register as his daughter's leaukamia had returned and she is in need of a bone marrow transplant to save her life.  He had previously done another post on Facebook to try and reunite a Pandora bracelet he had found with it's owner after finding it at a shopping centre.  That post had been shared 7100 times in under 24 hours.  The post requesting help regarding the bone marrow register was shared 173 times.  I hope they don't mind me putting this here but if you wanted to sign up to register for the bone marrow register you can do here or here.

It just sadly seems that in this day and age unless stuff affects people, they don't often seem to care.  I've experienced it myself when fundraising for charities close to my heart, when people I thought would support me never did.  Yet stupid, meaningless stuff is shared daily.  Something is wrong somewhere but hey ho, such is life!

My own image

Those who continue to be there for me (and others), thank you :-)


Ali 
xx

06/11/2016

Mila and Pheebs subscription box for children

Hello! I've been AWOL for a while due to my health being rubbish - I found out I had a Vitamin D deficiency last month, so on top of the M.E it's been rough.  However I'm on boosters for it now and it's making a difference so I'm hoping I can start writing a bit more regularly again.

You may remember me posting previously about Mila and Pheebs.  My other post about them is here but we (I mean little Miss!) love them so I wanted to share some of the recent box contents.  For those who don't know, they do kids' craft boxes which can be purchased as a monthly subscription or as a one off box for £9.99 including postage.

There are always colouring sheets, a wordsearch, stickers, an iwako eraser, embossed cards and envelopes and a themed paperclip in each box along with various other stuff.

The theme for the September box was Carnival and my little Miss was really excited about getting it. It certainly didn't disappoint.



As well as doing all the activities and the craft kits, she also made some extra stuff utilising and taking inspiration from the things in the box.  She decided to make an actual carnival for her tooth fairy as she lost another tooth around the time of the box arriving!


Her imagination astounds me sometimes.  She (I) cut out the unicorns from the page markers and stuck them onto straws which we attached to a paper plate.  We used the remaining part of the plate to make a helter skelter and made popcorn out of yellow tissue paper along with some mini drinks with straws!  It did look pretty cool and the fairy and her friends thorougly enjoyed it. Apparently!




The October box theme was Spooky in time for Halloween and again, she was very happy with what was inside.



It arrived at the start of half term so we spent a fair bit of time doing/making things and really enjoyed it.  It's amazing how much time can be spent crafting and I really love seeing children be creative.  Obviously us spending quality time together is my favourite part of it!


The fact the boxes are packed full of stuff, yet still fit through the letterbox, is brilliant.  With all the subscription boxes on the market, having one especially for kids is such a good idea.  They make perfect gifts too if you want to buy a one off box.  You can subscribe via  this link.



Alexis at Mila and Pheebs is lovely and my little Miss made her a card using stuff from the boxes.  The colour changing pens were definitely a big hit!!



Let me know if you decide to get a box or if you have any questions feel free to ask.


Ali
xx

29/09/2016

Crieff Hydro holiday August 2016



For as long as I can remember I've been abroad on holiday each year, however this time we decided not to!  After much deliberation we decided on Crieff Hydro in Scotland.  Quite a few people had recommended it and I'm so glad we went as it turned out to be one of the best holidays I've had.

I'm going to be writing this post from the perspective of someone using a mobility scooter as I borrowed one from a friend rather than taking my wheelchair.  I had spoken to them at the Hyrdo to discuss access and felt quite happy that it was all going to be ok.  I was looking forward to the independence that a scooter brings, rather than being pushed around in the wheelchair which isn't the most fun for any of us!

We were staying at a Premier Inn in Glasgow on the way up and I'd also spoken to them to request a room on the ground floor close to reception, which is what we got. We decided to stay over and travel up to Crieff the following day.  That way we wouldn't spend all day travelling and I get really uncomfortable sitting for any length of time, so it made more sense to break it up.  I nodded off for a while too so the journey didn't feel as long!!

It took four hours to get to Glasgow but that included a short stop and being stuck in traffic a while. I hate traffic!! The views were stunning though.


I'm so glad we decided to stay over as I was pretty shattered (the joys of having M.E), so after something to eat we got an early night. A friend of mine who lives close to the hotel came to join us for breakfast so that was a lovely start to the day. The drive to Crieff was only around an hour and then the holiday could begin!!


I had seen photos of it and read reviews but you never really know what it will be like until you're there.  It's a luxury family hotel with a huge array of things to do and my first impressions were good.  We found a disabled parking space near the front and then it was time to breathe in some Scottish air!  The reception area was lovely. We had arrived before the 2pm check in time and our room wasn't quite ready so we went for a wander. Other than the outdoor activity centre, everything is within the hotel so it was nice and very accessible for me.


Our room was great and there was plenty of room.  Despite it overlooking the back of the hotel where the delivery lorries arrive in the morning, we didn't have any problems with noise which I'd initially been a bit worried about.


We had booked the Freedom Dining package which gives adults £26 per day and children £10 to spend on food.  I hadn't expected it to cover all meals (full Scottish breakfast was included in the price prior to adding the dining package) but it did. There are several restaurants there and you can use any of them.  Some serve lighter snacks and others full meals, but even choosing a more expensive lunch still allowed plenty of allowance for the evening meal.  On the first night we went to the Piccolo Italian restaurant but it was apparently going to be quite awkward to get to on the scooter. One of the people who work there kindly took us down through the staff area and I didn't feel like it had been a burden to them either for having to take us! I hadn't been feeling too well prior to going for dinner (wiped out to the max!) and had been a bit upset, so the fact they'd made it less stressful for us helped and we had a really nice meal.

Other than the Winter Garden which serves sandwiches and soup, they are all waiter service. Usually when we have been abroad it has been all inclusive or self service buffet style, so having someone taking your order and bringing the food to the table made it feel more relaxed.  The food was also really high standard and lots of choice.  The Meikle has a set menu and is the more luxury restaurant there. Our meal was delicious and such a relaxing atmosphere.  One thing I do recommend though is booking restaurants for the evening in advance as apparently they get fully booked so it is difficult to get in otherwise.


We asked how much we had left to spend on our last night and it was almost £100 so we splashed out! Three courses and some of the most expensive stuff on the menu later, we still had allowance leftover so we bought sandwiches and cakes for the journey home the following day!!

You had to pay for drinks but that's totally expected and I don't drink much anyway (alcohol wise!). You could also use the allowance for snacks during the day including cakes and ice cream as well as hot drinks.  They have an extensive coctktail menu too as well as a few mocktails which went down well with little Miss!


Each day there was an activity timetable with different things going on for different ages. Garden games went down well and they had a mini Sports day which Little Miss loved as she had missed her school one due to being poorly! They had a drawing class with their resident charicature artist Pedro and another day there was a Ceilidh dance class as well as a petting zoo for the kids which was great.


This was alongside the various things you could do outdoors on the hotel site. Pitch and Putt, boules, mini golf to name a few.


The activity centre has 60 activities on offer. I didn't do anything (I opted for the spa instead!) but my hubby did archery and my little Miss did quad pods, water bubbles (which are like giant hamster balls) and the longest, highest zipwire I've ever seen. Glad she doesn't take after me in the bravery stakes! They also did Woodland Combat which was similar to paintballing but with laser guns.


The activity centre is a few minutes drive from the main hotel and the ground was fine for the scooter for a bit but wouldn't have been ideal had I wanted to go very far. Fortunately for me it was drizzling so I opted to go and have a hot chocolate in the Clubhouse whilst watching my crazy girl on the zipwire from the window!


I made sure I rested in the room during the day a few times (which is essential when you have M.E, for me anyway) but I generally felt really relaxed the whole time. Some of our Scottish friends came to stay for a night which was lovely as we've not seen them for a few years. My friend and I spent a really chilled few hours at the spa, which at £10 for 3 hours was well worth it! Again a member of staff took us down to the spa as it would have been too tricky otherwise.

They have a fantastic children's club there called Big Country and you get two free 3 hour sessions per day if you want to use it.  I had seen reviews and people had said how good it was.  We had booked little Miss in for some sessions but thought if it wasn't that good or she didn't enjoy it we wouldn't use it much. However, it was brilliant!  They have a really secure system in place so it would be impossible for someone else to collect your child. You get given a card and cannot take the child out unless you produce it. Each card has a unique number and you have to sign two sheets for them to be released!  They do various activities with them and all staff are fully trained as well as DRB checked.

They have a high tea for children which they can have before the kids' club so a couple of evenings we ate on our own while she was there.  Making friends and having fun.. what more could a child want whilst on holiday?! Having the scooter meant I could take or collect her which we both enjoyed as I usually miss out on stuff like that so it was nice.


They had some sort of entertainment in the evenings whether it was a band, ceilidh dancing or a magic show. Little Miss loved the dancing and even managed to convince her daddy to get up and dance with her (which I think he secretly enjoyed!!).


There is something for everyone at Crieff Hydro and it can be as chilled or as action packed as you want. Usually when it's time to leave a holiday I feel ready to go home but I could have happily stayed longer.  The post holiday blues kicked in not long after we got back and we started looking at when we may be able to return.  We decided to have a look for around my birthday and managed to get a good price so we booked it!!  Another 5 nights of luxury to look forward to.  I can't wait.


I would like to thank everyone at the Hyrdo for making it such a lovely holiday.  It's a fantastic family friendly place in beautiful surroundings. Even when it rained, it didn't bother me as there was still lots to do or it was as nice to just sit and chill with a cuppa and some cake! Their staff are a credit to them and I actually spoke to one of the managers before we left to pass on our thanks and to say how impressed we had been.  She was grateful for my comments and it felt nice being able to praise rather than complain which so many people do these days.  Can't recommend it enough!  Currently counting down the months until we are back...




Ali
xx

10/09/2016

Smile for ME


I've talked about Smile for ME before and if you have read my posts for a while, you will know that they are the charity I raised money for earlier this year during M.E Awareness week.  Previous post about it is here if you want a look :-)

They send happy parcels to M.E sufferers and carers who have been nominated by someone. I have nominated a few people previously and the thought that any money I raised whilst fundraising could help to put a smile on people's faces made me so so happy.

However, what I was not expecting was to be on the receiving end of a Smile parcel!  At the beginning of August I was pretty lost for words when I got one. My sister had nominated me... talk about emotional!!  I cried as soon as I saw the Smile for ME sticker on the box.  When I opened it, I was overwhelmed with how it was all so beautifully wrapped.


The gifts were so thoughtful and absolutely perfect for me.  It all turned me into a bit of an emotional wreck if I'm honest!

The lovely things I received were a personalised trinket box, a vintage style teacup candle, a pineapple (yay!!) candle, a gorgeous framed print, some knitted bunting which was made by another sufferer Jenny and some chocolate smiles. Absolutely amazing!


I think they are such a fantastic charity to support and having now been on the other side of what they do, I can't thank them enough.  It is run by Alice and Gracie who are both poorly themselves.  The fact they do it to cheer up others whilst both not being well is testament to how amazing they are.  They rely on donations so if you wanted to support them and make a donation, you can do so via THIS LINK.

Being poorly with chronic illness is really no fun at all and something like this can make such a huge difference.  A lot of people can be very lonely and don't have much good stuff going on, so to receive a parcel of gorgeous goodies can literally make that person's day/week/year.


Thank you for reading!

Hugs and sparkle,

Ali
xx

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