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Posted on October 7, 2015

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas…

Advertorial/ Guest post

I’m going to say it, and you’re probably not going to like me for it, but it’s only 98 sleeps until Christmas. Yes, yes, I know many of you are only just recovered from the long summer break, which at times has most likely left you pulling your hair out, but as we welcome a new season, it suddenly dawned on me how close Christmas Day actually is!

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Posted on August 11, 2014

Children’s books that parents will NEVER tire of reading

Advertorial/ Guest post/ sponsored

If you’re a parent or grandparent, you’ll know that there’s something special about story time.

Watching your child’s imagination ignite as they soak up the story and characters, introducing them to new authors, new scenarios and even new worlds and spending a little quality time together before bed all make for fantastic memories.

Though some books come and go with trends and fads, there are a few that will stay around forever. Well written, imaginative and engrossing, there are just some publications that kids, parents and grandparents will never get bored of.

Where The Wild Things Are, Maurice Sendak

First published in 1963 and recently turned into a hit film, Maurice Sendak’s Where the Wild Things Are is made up of just 338 words, yet has captivated children and parents alike for decades.

The imaginative story coupled with the beautiful illustrations (also by Sendak), can’t help but inspire, and won’t get boring no matter how many times you go from cover to cover.

Green Eggs and Ham, Dr Seuss

A long time favourite of kids around the world, there’s a good chance that grandparents remember reading Dr Seuss’ Green Eggs and Ham to their own children.

Containing just 50 different words, Green Eggs and Ham is perfect for kids that are just starting to read, allowing them to recognise each word quickly and easily.

The Hobbit, J.R.R Tolkien

Regularly voted one of the best children’s books of all time, J.R.R Tolkien’s fantastical adventure story is perfect for reading to the grandchildren when they come to visit your McCarthy and Stone apartment.

Thanks to its length and fascinating plot, parents and grandparents won’t tire of The Hobbit, a book that’s stayed enduringly popular since it was first published in 1937.

James And The Giant Peach, Roald Dahl

Though there are plenty of great contemporary kid’s books around, there’s something special about sharing a story with your children that you heard yourself when you were their age, and James and the Giant Peach is one such story.

Full of Roald Dahl’s witty nuanced text and fantastic imagination, the book makes the perfect bedtime story no matter what your age.

With kids growing up so quickly, making the most of their childhood is a must, so why not pick up one of these books today and make tonight a bedtime they’ll remember?

This is a featured guest post.

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Posted on April 30, 2014

How to Keep your Toddler Happy while Travelling

Advertorial/ Guest post

The summer holidays are getting closer, and while that means not long to go until that much needed getaway, it may also mean not long to go until you have to master keeping your toddler entertained on that upcoming flight/train ride/coach trip/car journey! Before you start getting pre-holiday jitters, take a look at these simple tips to keep your little one occupied during travel:

Make travelling fun

First things first; if your toddler finds travelling dull they are probably going to be a pain, so keep things fun! You can be as active in this provision of fun as you want – though the stresses of travelling may put you in an ‘off’ mood yourself –  decide between engaging verbal games and role-playing, or equipping them with plenty of toys to. Make sure your toddler has their old favourites (like their teddy or comforter) to hand, but consider treating them to something new for the journey too. You can wrap it up as holiday present to add to the excitement or make a goody bag with lots of different treats to work through during the journey.

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Prepare to be late, everywhere

Ok, so this one is more about keeping you happy… but prepare to be everywhere late and leave plenty of time to overcome this. Keeping your toddler happy largely relies on you being relaxed too, and there’s nothing that will make your blood pressure sky rocket like being pressed for time when you need to get to the boarding gate.

Travelling with children inevitably takes longer than travelling on your own, so assume you’ll need to make loo stops, food stops, what-is-this-over-here stops… Over pack for the scenario that you’ll get stuck in traffic or a delayed flight too. This means making sure you have more than enough nappies, toys and a change of clothes. Keep checking the flights from your mobile using a site such as Amadeus so you can be alerted to any delays as soon as possible.

Hurray for headphones

Music can not only keep your child occupied but may soothe them to sleep – bonus! Headphones will block out background noise on a plane or train and keep your toddler in their own little bubble for a while. There’s nothing wrong with encouraging a little screen time on a flight short-haul flight either, a great way to keep them distracted using an iPad or portable DVD player.

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Suck to soothe sinus pressure

A quick fire way to get a toddler riled is on-flight air pressure. You’ve probably experienced the discomfort of sinus pressure yourself, so help them avoid it by offering a drink on take-off and landing. Sucking on a sippy cup, bottle or dummy will help alleviate any ear pain.

Avoid hunger grumbles

Does your little one get frustrated when they’re hungry? Pack plenty of snacks that will keep sugar levels up and make sure you don’t experience the wrath of a hungry toddler! If you go for fiddly snacks like raisins or mini rice cakes, that should keep them occupied for a little longer too.

What are your top tips for keeping your toddler/child happy whilst travelling? 

This is a featured guest post.

Posted on March 25, 2014

Guest Post: Kid proofing your home

Advertorial/ Guest post

If you’re the parent of a gorgeous newborn baby, the time when they’ll be crawling around on their hands and knees or toddling around on two feet may seem like a long way off.

However before you know it your little ones will be running rings around you and getting into every cupboard, nook and cranny they can find.

The best way to keep both your children and your belongings out of harm’s way is to kid proof your home, providing a safe and secure place for your children to explore.


Though we may not think of sofas and armchairs as being potentially dangerous objects, many pieces of furniture have sharp or hard edges, often at just the right height for a child to potentially hit their head.

To solve this problem, consider investing in some new furnishings from  Their child-friendly designs are perfect for young families, offering great aesthetics as well as a soft landing.


As electricity is potentially one of the most dangerous features of the home, making sure that your children don’t stick their fingers into sockets is a priority.

Use plastic cases to cover any sockets and try to move all cords out of reach to prevent a child being injured while accidently pulling a lamp or electronic device off of a surface.

Drawers and cupboards

To prevent kids from accessing any cleaning products, breakables or sharp objects that could cause them an injury, use easy to apply latches and specialist child proof catches to prevent drawers and cupboards being opened without your knowledge.


Of all of the rooms in the home, the kitchen holds the most potential dangers for babies and young children.

To minimise the chances of an accident occurring, always try to cook on the rear hobs of your oven and turn pan handles towards the wall; keep knives, cleaning products and plastic bags out of reach and cover any sharp corners with padding or remove the offending pieces of furniture altogether.

Making your home as safe and as child-friendly as possible is an important part of creating the best possible environment for your children to grown up in, while helping them to find out about all of the dangers in the world at their own pace and without having to learn the hard way.

* This is a featured guest post 

Posted on March 24, 2014

Guest Post: Top Craft Activities for Boys

Advertorial/ Guest post

It’s probably fair to say that the majority of craft activities tend to appeal more to girls than boys. While many lads love to join in with baking afternoons and art projects, many activities that you can buy in the shops target the girls instead – candles, jewellery, flower presses – it can be incredibly difficult to find sets that appeal to the boys as well.

Crafts should be just as accessible to boys as girls; they ignite creativity and imagination that can be demonstrated artistically rather than through play and craft sessions are great ways to occupy the time when the weather is drab and toys just won’t cut the mustard. A couple of hours in the afternoon, introducing craft activities to boys, can be a great way to bond with your child while having fun, too. Plus, there are loads of fun activities out there that will appeal to the lads, including these four gems!

Carton of Chestnut Boys

Silly Putty

Don’t all boys love getting a little mucky and gooey sometimes? You could easily keep a little boy entertained with making this easy-to-do putty recipe, and he’ll love the finished result! All you need is some school glue, some liquid starch and some food colouring. You may have to try different brands of glue and liquid starch, but the ingredients are relatively cheap to find.

You can also make a slimier substance with cornflour!

Custom Boy’s Jeans

Pick up an affordable pair of boy’s jeans from George and enjoy a little fashion design with your youngster. Fabric pens, paints and patches would be a perfect way of updating and personalising a pair of bog standard jeans, while also allowing your lad to be creative. You can find some super patches online that you can help him to iron or sew onto his new jeans.

Glow in the Dark Painting

If they fancy adding something different to their bedroom, this is a great way of doing it. The finished result will look incredible and all you need is some clean, clear jars and some glow in the dark paint. Pick up various colours of paint if you like, such as white, green and yellow, and paint add dots of the various colours to the inside of each jar. Pop the lids on, leave to dry and pop them in their rooms. The sunlight will ‘charge’ the paint and as darkness falls, the jars will glow.

Bead Melting

How old your child is depends on how far you can go with this. Hama beads are a great way to keep all ages pleased, giving them the chance to create some awesome shapes and pictures. If you’re trying to think of something for a teenage boy to occupy himself with various beads and an oven or a blow torch can produce hours of fun!

The older boys get, the more difficult it can sometimes be to engage them in crafts. You need to think outside the box and think of fun crafts that they will find suitably ‘boyish’ – use online resources for inspiration and introduce your kids to some fun activities for you all to enjoy. 

* This is a featured guest post.

Posted on March 20, 2014

Guest Post: Early Warning Signs of a Blocked Drain

Advertorial/ Guest post

I have had lots of problems with blocked drains in the last few years so I wanted to share this guest post with you about the early warning signs of blocked drains with you all so that you can avoid the problems we have had!

It is always easier to deal with a problem when it is small, before it becomes a bigger issue that you don’t know how to handle, and in the case of your home, often costs more. The same is true of drainage issues, a common, if often overlooked issue in the home. Rather than try and fire fight when your drain becomes completely blocked and therefore unusable, learn how to read the warning signs and get something sorted before it’s too late.

Bad smells

When a drain becomes blocked, food and waste starts to gather in various parts of the drain. Here it begins to decompose and rot giving off a horrible stench that, once the problem starts to worsen, becomes more apparent and unbearable. Aside from being an important indicator that your drains are blocking, this also means they are very unsanitary and could benefit from a good clean out.  The smells are usually worse after you run a tap and aggravate the bacteria, so try this to check the smell is definitely coming from the drain.

Slow drainage

Another big indicator of a blocked drain waiting to happen is a water system that is slow to drain. Watch the next time you pull the plug out of the sink to see how long it takes for the drainage system to pull the water down. The slow pace of the water is caused by problems in the pipes only allowing a bit of the water around the obstacle at a time. You will know what is slow for your home, and if you believe there to be a problem it is always worth getting checked out.

Raised water

As well as draining slowly, you might also find that the water level in your toilet, bath or sink actually grows initially when you take the plug out or flush. This is a pretty clear indicator that your water drainage is not working at its best. This one is a problem as it can lead to flooding and the floor and ceiling along with other damage that is involved with overflowing water in your home. Don’t re-flush a rising toilet as this will only serve to fill the bowl further.

Funny noises

Gargling and bubbling noises are often the first indication you get that all is not well with your drainage system. Air trapped in the pipes by the obstructions cause air to bubble up through and make these sounds. If the drain was not starting to get blocked then the water would flow freely down the pipes untroubled by any obstacles and therefore making no bubbling or gargling noises. If you have a few things close together you may find one draining bubbles out of the other too, for example sink water bubbling up through the bath plug.

Be aware of what is normal for your home and take note of any changes. Try and remember to check your drains as you would soon be miserable if they were to malfunction. The above are just a few of the tell-tale signs of a drain that is on the fast track to blockage. Catch the problem before it becomes too big and too expensive by checking for these and other warning signs regularly.

* This is a featured guest post.

575 wandsworth road
Posted on January 21, 2014

A guide to London: Grand Interiors

Guest post/ sponsored

London is not just a buzzing metropolis; it’s also full of grandiose landmarks with gorgeous interiors that reflect the great history of Britain and the world.  Discover hidden gems with your family during your mini-break to London, and be inspired by the art work and antiques that punctuate each landmark. Before you go exploring, book a hotel near the centre of London, and check out this guide to London. Moreover, don’t forget your camera and notebook, essential for capturing these inner-city wonders. Who knows, you too may be inspired by the following enterprising giants and want to do a little DIY and designing yourself!

Georgian: Fenton House and Garden
Rated 4.5/5 on trip advisor, this picturesque merchant’s house was built in the 17th century, standing tall in the middle of a beautiful walled garden. Lady Binning bought the house in 1936 and lived there until 1952, when she bequeathed it to the National Trust after she passed away. She filled the house with gorgeous Georgian furniture and artwork, including early instruments that volunteers at the National Trust play for visitors to this day. Outside, you can check out the 300 year old orchard and the historic rose garden, where you can take stock and relax, revelling in the estate’s majestic atmosphere.


Fenton House Gardens by Cle0patra via Flickr

Modernist: 2 Willow Road
The arty pioneer, Ernő Goldfinger, was a Hungarian born architect with a modernist vision. Capturing the movement within his very own walls, Goldfinger’s terraced house was completed in 1939. Still fresh and influential, the minimalist interiors have inspired many artists throughout the years, and you can see why. The house truly showcases the best 20th century creative talent, with furniture designed by Goldfinger himself as well as Bridget Riley, Marcel Duchamp, Henry Moore and Max Ernst. Goldfinger’s creations are still very much present today, appearing on t-shirts and even mentioned in Blur’s song ‘Best Days’. Additionally, the great architect seems to have made an impact with his personality as well as his art. It’s rumoured that Goldfinger, one of James Bond’s villains, was based on Ernő Goldfinger, due to his uncompromising temper.

575 Wandsworth Road

575 Wandsworth Road by Shakespearesmonkey via Flickr

Hand-crafted: 575 Wandsworth Road
Kenyan-born poet, novelist and civil-servant Khadambi Asalache bought this terraced house on Wandsworth Road in 1981. Inspired by the Italian movement ‘horror vacui’, meaning ‘fear of empty space’, Asalache filled his home (and his walls!) with detailed artwork and hand-sculpted furniture which he carved from floorboards and pine doors that he found in skips. Because the house is so delicate, there are only nine guided tours a week, so if you are thinking of going, make sure that you check out how you can book to avoid disappointment. Find out more about 575 Wandsworth Road by taking a look at the house’s blog.

* This post was in association with Novotel hotels

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