Wednesday, 22 November 2017

There's no place like Holmes...

As part of their Black Friday blogging week, I was invited to go along to Stuart Holmes Hair and Beauty Salon on Imperial Square in Cheltenham. I love having long hair and the times I have felt brave enough to have it chopped, I've instantly regretted it and missed it until it grew back! When I was given my appointment, I felt a mix of nervousness and excitement and immediately headed to the Stuart Holmes Pinterest page for inspiration. Initially, I felt like I should ask for a major restyle, then I thought about requesting a colour change but in the end I put the before and after photos and blog post to the back of my mind and realised that I'm pretty happy with my hair but wished it was in better condition and that it had more of a 'shape' to it.

Booking is simple, you can call or book online and you can even have a free, online consultation before you book! On entering the salon, you are greeted by a team of super friendly, helpful receptionists and once you've checked in with them, you are invited to relax in the lounge with a drink while you wait for your stylist. The decor is modern, stylish and has a luxurious feel to it, it's a truly relaxing place to flick through magazines, make use of the free wifi or munch on sweets from the giant fishbowl (well played, Team Holmes, well played)! 

So, let's talk about the location. Just two minutes walk from The Prom, the salon sits directly opposite Cheltenham Town Hall. As I sat down in the chair at eye level with the Town Hall balcony, I was struck by what an amazing view that was and it was all the prettier framed by the salon's festive decorations! The salon is so convenient if you're shopping or eating in town and there are plenty of car parks nearby if you're making a special trip. 

When I have my hair cut, I usually just ask for a trim and have dabbled with different types of fringe over the years. It's so important to me that a stylist sees my hair dry, my hair is naturally curly and I like to go along to a new stylist with it freshly washed and naturally dried so they can see how much 'ping' it has and cut accordingly. I was lucky enough to have been booked in with Rob, who spent loads of time chatting to me about my hair and asking me what I had in mind in terms of cut and finish, he was also great at helping me make my mind up about what would suit me, which I really appreciated. For some reason, he seemed to understand what I was saying as I babbled on about mermaid hair and he explained his vision for my hair in language I could get along with (we may have discussed electrocution and rainbows at this point...)

What can I say about the hair wash, a hair wash is hair wash isn't it? Well no! Given that i'd only washed my hair the day before, after just the shampoo, it felt cleaner and lighter and after the conditioning treatment I was ready to remortgage my house to fund the products if that's what it took! The products were Shu Uemera, which are developed in Japan and are only very lightly fragranced, so not overpowering at all. These are available to buy in the reception area, along with an array of other products to suit a range of hair types and budgets. I love a scalp massage but sometimes feel like it's a bit of an aside whereas today, it was very much part of the experience and I felt so relaxed, I was in danger of dropping off! Luckily for everyone, that didn't happen and I was delivered safely back to Rob so he could get started.

I often find the actual haircut a bit nerve wracking with a new stylist, I once abstained from having my hair cut for over a year because the stylist I loved and trusted left my chosen salon and I didn't know where she'd moved to! Things run through my head, what if they cut off more than we have agreed or what if I don't like the result but I can honestly say that I felt calm and relaxed and I really trusted Rob to get it right.  The atmosphere in the salon was busy but calm and Rob worked precisely and methodically on my hair, the time flew by.

The moment of truth, the blow dry... Again, it felt like this part was as important as the rest of the experience and Rob took time to talk through the different ways he could style my hair before taking plenty of time to style it to perfection! Once he was finished, he made the final cuts, spritzed my hair and had made my hair dreams come true! Better condition, check! Hair has a shape, check! Happy Steph, check!

Throughout the experience, I never felt rushed and felt that all the staff couldn't do enough for their customers. Everyone was offered drinks and these were regularly refreshed, there were magazines available in each room and on meeting some regular customers of the salon, I could tell that they all felt valued and were keen to book in future appointments before they left.

With a comprehensive website, an active Instagram account and Facebook page, a Pinterest page and a YouTube channel you can easily keep up to date with everything going on at Stuart Holmes and if you sign up to their newsletter, you can even bag yourself a £10 gift voucher! So next time you're in town, why not pop in and book a treat for yourself or buy some gift vouchers to give this Christmas? 

Monday, 6 November 2017

Box of delights...

I love a hamper. A selection of hand picked items, put together with a given occasion in mind. New baby? Hamper. Birthday? Hamper. Christmas? You get the idea! A hamper feels luxurious, it's ten gifts given as one and it's the excitement of wondering what else is inside.

We were sent the Fabulous Christmas hamper from the luxury range by Prestige Hampers and if you saw our Instagram story, you'll know that the levels of excitement on opening this were high! Honey and Ace absolutely loved delving into the basket, discovering what was inside and providing ideas with regards to who might enjoy the different items (wine = Mummy, yessss).

Obviously, the proof of the hamper is in the tasting. My husband and I thoroughly enjoyed the wine, I am super fussy when it comes to Rose and while a white zinfandel is my favourite, it has to have just the right level of sweetness, which I'm pleased to say 
this bottle did! Honey and Ace were more than happy to help me sample the jam and devoured it on toast while I thoroughly enjoyed the marmalade on mine. Honey is still at the age where she's happy to have a satsuma after tea, so she was over the moon when I brought out the box of chocolate thins to have as a shared pudding. We ate them all in double quick time and that's as good a review as you can get!

Browsing the Prestige website, you can buy hampers ranging from just £10 up to a super generous, entire Christmas in a hamper for £750! There are sweet hampers (I love sweets, just saying Santa), wine hampers, cheese hampers and even hampers for pets. Something for everyone, I'll think you agree!

It was lovely to have such delicious treats to share and to try things I may not ordinarily have purchased but one thing I wasn't willing to share was the chocolate. Belgian Fancy Truffles to be exact! Well, a Mum has to have something of her own sometimes, doesn't she!

*Although we were kindly sent a hamper to review, all thoughts and opinions in this blog are my own.

Honey wears... School uniform

Tuesday, 31 October 2017

May the forest be with you...

Our latest family day out was a trip to Worcester Woods Country Park to meet some friends who live nearby. I’d seen Instagram posts from people who’d been there and many of them cited it as one of their favourite outdoor days out, which is quite an accolade given where we live and how much beautiful scenery we are surrounded by!

As we pulled into the car park, I immediately began to see why. The car park is large and there is no charge for parking. The first thing you come to is a lovely, wooden playground with an enclosed area designed for smaller children and a more open space for bigger kids (or little ones with Danger for a middle name). Honey made friends with some bigger girls and had a great time chatting and playing with them, while Ace was happy being pushed in the swing then pottering off to explore.

After a turn on the play equipment, we headed into the woods for a stroll along the trails. Almost immediately, you feel like you’re in the middle of a faraway forest and the only thing that shakes that feeling is when the path takes you to the edge of the woodland and you suddenly see a housing estate or a hospital! It’s so peaceful in there and the Autumn colours are in full force so there are plenty of leaves to stomp through and sticks to collect!

Honey loved helping to build a ‘logpile house’ we found set back from the path, as well as showing off her new reading skills whenever we came to a sign. Ace had fun balancing on logs, paddling in the stream and collecting many, many, many, many sticks.

When little legs started to get tired, attention turned to what we were going to choose from the cafe. Honey had spotted the ice cream truck as soon as we arrived, so she was sorted and the rest of us opted for hot drinks and cake from the Orchard Cafe. All reviews were positive judging by the empty cups and crumb free plates! 

Sitting outside the cafe, a quick scan of the park revealed a series of bbq’s, a crazy golf compound, a small train ride and a huge field, perfect for picnics or football. You can also download a free activity pack which has a mixture of things you can do before, during or after your trip. So whether you're meeting friends, lunching with family or just heading out on your own adventure, Worcester Woods Country Park probably has something for you.

Honey wears... Batman sweatshirt by Daphne and Margot
Ace wears... Dinosaur hoody by Blade and Rose

Tuesday, 19 September 2017

Spiky hair, don't care...

Ace has needed a haircut for a while, for the last few weeks he has had permanent bed head. Yesterday evening, I announced with absolute certainty that I was going to get Ace's haircut while Honey was at school the following day and I'm pleased to say that the mission has been accomplished.

Way back when Ace was a few months old, a new Barber's shop opened on our walk into town. I know this because someone handed me a leaflet as I walked past 'for when the little man had a bit more hair'. I'm pretty sure the leaflet ended up in the recycling box as I was expecting Ace to be a little Phil Mitchell like Honey was and not grow much hair until he was 2. Wrong! He turned 18 months today, this was his second haircut and the barber took off more hair today than Honey had on her whole head at this age!

Barber n Bar is a vintage style Barber's shop on Winchcombe Street in CheltenhamIts sleek black and red decor, comfy sofas and upbeat music give the place a cool yet relaxed vibe and they offer haircuts, colours and grooming treatments for men and boys. What's more, they also have a fully stocked bar! 

Ace was a really good boy, after repeatedly taking off the gown and initially wanting to get down from the chair, he settled down to watch some Peppa Pig on Daddy's phone while the barber worked his magic. Our barber's attention to detail was phenomenal and it looked as if he cut each hair individually, he even used clippers to shape Ace's hair round his ears and styled his hair with some luxurious pomade!

The name doesn't make it sound like the most child friendly place on Earth, but we honestly couldn't have been more impressed with how they accommodated Ace, especially at such short notice. 

Here's a quick roundup of what we loved:

- Super talented barber!
- Bar stools at the perfect height to pop your backpack down on and chuck your sling over.
- Plenty of room inside the shop to put your buggy if needs be.
- Child sized gowns.
- Booster cushions.
- PS3 (although Ace was more interested in Peppa ;-).
- Loyalty card scheme (collect 8 stamps for a free haircut).
- 30% off a child's haircut Monday to Thursday.
- FREE kids drink.
- FREE haircut for a child under 10 with a paying adult (Mon-Thurs).

Find Barber n Bar on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter and follow to stay up to date with all their offers!

Ace wears... The Adventures of Ace t-shirt by Sophia and the Fox

Just Hannah Jane

Saturday, 16 September 2017

Keeping it clean...

This is a little bit different for me, a lady called Nicole got in touch via the blog and asked if I'd consider publishing a guest post. As you know, I'm a huge fan of fostering independence and a sense of responsibility in children so when I read her article, the obvious answer was yes! Nicole just loves cleaning. She loves it so much that she turned her passion into a business  and now runs N3 EOT cleaning team. She is a firm believer that kids should be taught about cleaning chores and what better way to do that than by turning the cleaning into a game? 

Kids Can Help You With The Cleaning 
Tips and Tricks to Turn Cleaning into A Game

- A guest post by Nicole Gardiner - 

Let's be honest, have you tried to involve your kids in doing some chores around your home? Often, this attempt can lead you down a blind alley, which is no surprise at all, since most people do not find cleaning enjoyable. However, there is still hope! In order to  encourage your kids to help you more with household duties, you may need to attract their attention by turn everything into a game.

I strongly believe that kids should be taught to clean up after themselves. From an early age, they need to know that everybody at home has duties and these duties have to be carried out. Of course, the younger the child is, the easier the chores will need to be, but y
ou may be surprised by how much kids are capable of doing to help when it comes to cleaning!

As we all know, every child is unique and feels motivated and encouraged by different strategies. Some kids prefer to follow a task list when cleaning and others prefer the cleaning to be turned into a fun game. Some kids need silence to perform at their best and others cannot be productive without listening to music. As I said, every child is unique and you know your child best. 

I am here to make everything a little bit easier for you and for your kids as well and will share some ideas to help children get more willingly involved in the cleaning process. Hopefully you will find these strategies helpful and you will be pleased with the results.

Let's try this. Grab a laundry hamper and walk around your home. Everything which is not where it should be, you put it inside. You may ask what kind of trick this is? Pay attention. When the children come back home from school, ask them to separate their own belongings from the hamper and put them back where they belong before they can watch TV, for example. Some may call it bribery, but it really does work. Try it!

Here we are for another trick, this one's called the colour game. Can you guess what it's all about?
Tell your kids to look for everything black in their room. As they locate a black item, they have to put it in the place where it is usually kept. Continue the game by telling them to look for everything yellow, pick it up and again put it where it belongs. See? This can be very funny for little ones and it will also help them learn about colours. 

Every time your children are about to clean their rooms, set a time limit. If they are done before the timer goes off, you can give a reward to your little champions. They love to be appreciated and feel helpful. This will also motivate them to work more efficiently and quickly, without wasting precious time or getting distracted.

You do not expect your kids to be born taught, do you? You have to explain them what their duties are and how they are supposed to get them done. You know that they cannot clean a room in the same way as you so a good idea is to clean with them in the beginning so that they can get used to it and will know how you expect something to be done. 

Following these simple tricks and ideas will help your children learn about responsibility and you will have a cleaner home. There's no need for tears or screaming, cleaning can be fun!

Thursday, 31 August 2017


This week on our tour de Gloucester, Honey and I ended up at the inflatable theme park at Over Farm. For £7, your child (aged 2-14) gets a wristband that gives them all day access to most of the activities within the park (bumper cars and zorbs are extra as they're run by an outside company).

Within the site, there are some basic but well stocked portaloos, as well as a small food stand for emergency drinks and snacks! The theme park is cash only but if you're like me and never remember to carry cash, the lovely farm shop offers cashback when you spend over £5.

Lots of families had come prepared for the long haul, armed with picnics and sun shades. We only had a couple of hours, while Ace was at a nursery settling in session, but still felt that it was good value based on the usual price of around £1 for a 5 minute bounce elsewhere!

Honey felt very grown up when the young man who served us came round, popped a wristband on her wished her a great day and she absolutely loved racing round the field visiting the different attractions. I don't think she could believe that she was allowed to keep going back on her favourite bouncy castles. Typically, her favourite one was the tallest, fastest slide in the field which she climbed up and whizzed down at least 10 times!

The inflatables are there until 4th September, so you've still got time to go along if you like the sound of it. Check out Over Farm's Facebook page for information about their other seasonal events and activities.

Honey wears... Dinosaur top by Mini Boden