Wednesday, 4 March 2015

Bluestone Diaries #2 Tenby

Crazy 'mum mum' and son photo
Today the plan was to get up early and check out the Blue Lagoon swimming pool but we all woke up late, Eliot being the last at just before 10am! So we gave it a miss as we planned to take a trip to Tenby today and we're spending the day at the resort tomorrow so will be taking a splash then. Before we left for Tenby I asked Eliot for a picture with Mummy and the above was the result! He leant on my face squashing it on one side lol!
The journey to Tenby was less than half an hour. When we arrived we parked in the car park next to the top of the south beach which only cost £2 for four hours of parking. The view from the top was pretty amazing, the blue skies and sunny day made it completely perfect.
Once we were down on the beach Eliot made tracks towards the sea only stopping to pick up shells or pebbles and attempt to eat them! I think he was put off after a couple of mouthfuls of sand, thank goodness. 

 If Eliot had it his way I have no doubts he would've thrown himself in the water for a total splash around but he had to make do with stamping in the tide when it came in

We bought a packed lunch with us but went back up to the car to eat. Eliot won't sit still unless he's strapped in, it was windy and we'd left his buggy in the car.
After lunch the OH went back down to the beach whilst Eliot opted for the play area which is situated on the way down to the beach. He must have spent fifteen minutes plus walking round and round on the climbing frame before deciding to go down the slide. When Daddy met us we walked in to the historic town centre for a mosey, strolling down the lanes to the harbour.
Before we left for Bluestone we had dinner in a 'chippy', you've gotta have fish and chips at the seaside after all!

Tuesday, 3 March 2015

Bluestone Diaries #1

We arrived late last night (Monday) as Eliot had been poorly since Thursday evening and we weren't sure if were going to be able to make it. I didn't spend Sunday packing as I would've done as I wanted to see how Eliot was on Monday morning. He woke up very much back to himself so we made the decision to go on our Bluestone get away. There was quite a lot to sort out so we didn't leave till around 5pm, it was a long way to travel but we figured we'd be able to make more of our break by getting there late Monday rather than on Tuesday.
 On route I asked the OH to call the resort as I was worried we'd be too late to check in but we were reassured by a very polite member of staff that security were on 24/7 so there would be no problem. We arrived around 11:30pm after one stop off for food. Check in was super easy, we just drove the car up to the check in window where we were given a welcome pack with resort info and the card keys for our lodge. We followed the one way system round to our lodge, when we opened the door we were highly impressed! Everywhere was clean, fresh and extremely inviting. We're staying in a Gateholm lodge which sleeps six. When we booked two friends were meant to be joining us but they couldn't make it due to illness.
We all settled down for the night, Eliot in the travel cot provided by Bluestone and we all had an undisturbed sleep.
 In the morning we awoke to this beautiful view, you can't see here but the mountain top in the distance was sprinkled with snow. We had a relaxed breakfast, Eliot enjoyed looking out of the Juliet balcony and emptying the contents of the kitchen drawers!

We decided to explore the resort and headed to the Adventure Centre first. We all enjoyed the bouncy castle, daddy more so than Eliot!

The Chicken Run soft play for children under six also proved popular, Eliot had fun in the ball pit but was set on attempting to climb up the slides rather than going down them.
 Next we went for lunch in the Wild Wood Café which serves sandwiches, burgers, jacket potatoes and some lighter options. I waited quite a few minutes to be served as there wasn't anyone behind the bar. However when I'd ordered we didn't wait too long for the food to be served. Over lunch we looked over the bookable activities, the OH decided on a couple and we thought Eliot could try toddler sensory. We booked them and ventured off around the rest of the resort. Strolling through the village which is host to some shops and restaurants we browsed the menus for the Farmhouse Grill and the Knights Tafarn which we plan to try out later in the week.

Just next to the village is the Bluestone lake which we walked around before heading down a nature trail. We were debating to whether to go thorough one of the gates when I noticed lots of tiny birds fluttering down around us. I've never seen so many small birds so close, it really was a back to nature moment.

 Our first day at Bluestone has been lovely, the scenery is stunning and there are so many activities to choose from. The OH and I certainly feel relaxed and Eliot is enjoying himself too!

Sunday, 22 February 2015

Buying Our New Home

You are probably aware that we have recently moved home. It seemed to take forever from when we decided to sell and when we actually moved. Our flat in London was shared ownership so we had to abide by the housing association’s rules regarding the sale of our home.

When it came to looking for a new property we relied heavily on the internet simply because the area we were looking to move to was around fifty miles away. It just wasn’t feasible to journey up and browse in estate agent’s windows to keep up to date with new homes coming onto the market.

When we began our search we knew we were looking for a three bed house, which was a non-negotiable. A garage was something we would’ve loved for extra storage but not an essential. It was also important that we moved to an area that had good commuter links to London so we decided on one particular area to focus our search.
Daily I would search online for houses that were in our budget and that met our requirements. If something came up that looked good I’d give the estate agent a call. That moved on to calling other estate agents directly to see if they had any properties matching our criteria.
We spent a fair few weekends travelling to view houses, sometimes only one property for the day which sometimes felt like a waste of a journey. But as the houses with our preferences and budget were selling like hotcakes, we had to move fast.
There was one house that I particularly fell in love with (just from the online photos & description) after spending an evening searching through estate agent websites. When I called them to book an appointment to view the following morning, I was told that the viewing day was already fully booked. It sounds ridiculous but I was devastated, I and the other half wanted the chance to view it. Our names were put on a waiting list if anyone else dropped out but I didn't expect to hear from them. To my shock and delight I did receive a call a few days later and we booked in to go and have look.
We knew prior to the viewing that we would be making an offer and we did. One of the big selling points was the garden, it was huge and would've been ideal for Eliot. It also had a garage for our ever growing clutter. Unfortunately we didn't get that house as the owner decided the safest bet was to go with a first time buyer even though our flat had been sold.
Then one Saturday morning I received a call from a different estate agent about a house that I'd enquired about several weeks earlier. It had been sold but was now back on the market. We went round to have a look the next day and decided to make an offer. We completely missed a great deal of things that weren't great with the house as you may have already read about. Our offer was accepted and we really felt it was meant to be after the time we had spent looking. We're still working on it now!
My lovely friend Danielle helping with some DIY
Obviously with moving home comes plenty of expense, solicitor's, fees, furniture removal costs and estate agent charges. We had to cover the costs of the housing association's solicitors and pay them a percentage of the selling price. If you sell through an agent you are required to pay their fees.
An online company who offer a range of upfront packaged fees are My Online Estate Agent. Unlike local estate agents you may find on the high street, My Online Estate Agent offer their professional services with  lower commission rates.  They recently carried out some research which highlighted that British homeowners could have saved a whopping £3.5 billion if they had sold with an online estate agent  in 2014. My parent's have been um'ing and ar'ing about selling their home for years now. One of the reasons they've put it off is due to costs involved. As neither of them are internet savvy I will be helping them put their place on the market through an online agent when they finally decide to take the plunge!
Have you saved the £££'s by selling through an online agent?

'Cool Dude'-My Sunday Photo 22/2/15

Whilst we were out for lunch on Friday, Mr Eliot grabbed hold of his father's sunglasses and kept himself (and us) amused by putting them on and taking them off. Each time he did it he had them on upside down but he still managed to pull off a 'cool dude' look ;) This photo is mid attempt.


Tuesday, 17 February 2015

Move Update

Sneaky peek of our new kitchen
If you read my blog regularly you will know we recently moved home. In fact it was back in December and we’re still not in! In my last post about our move I described what a personal nightmare it had been. It has been a really difficult time which has really taught us a lesson when looking at properties in the future. I never, ever want to experience it again. 

There were LOTS of jobs that needed doing which we had completely missed when we viewed the house. However the big jobs are almost complete so fingers crossed we can be in by the end of next week! Once the carpet is fitted on the stairs, landing and in Eliot’s room we should be good to go. We still have plenty of smaller jobs to finish off, such as fully unpacking, painting furniture, kitchen lighting and those little finishing touches that can make a big difference.

The main light in the kitchen is one of the big smaller jobs. The ceiling currently sports a rather ugly plastic covered long strip light. No offence intended if you have one but they really remind me of schools and having spent a lot a time working in schools over the years, I really don’t want one in my home!
I loved the kitchen back in our London flat, the lighting was much more to my liking in the form of spotlights.
We have already bought a simple silver light fitting for the kitchen which requires GU10 bulbs. A bulb I’d never heard of or used!

 One of the reasons we moved out of London was to get more for our money and have lower outgoings. It’s no secret that making small changes around the home wherever you live can reduce your bills. So whilst browsing for GU10 bulbs I came across halogen and LED. The LED bulbs come with a higher price tag but after some online research I discovered, there is a HUGE difference in how much halogen bulbs cost in the long run.
5W Kosnic Powerspot - Dimmable - Warm, Cool and Daylight - Standard and Wide Beam Angle Options
A Kosnic LED priced at £4.70 available on LED Planet
As an example, the average cost of five halogen bulbs is £9.95 with the same amount of LED’s costing £24.96. On the other hand when it comes to your electricity bill, an average years energy using halogen bulbs could cost £95. Whereas average annual usage using LED could cost a mere £4.77, a whopping difference! I also found out LED lighting lasts several thousand hours longer so replacements won’t be needed for years! I think it’s a no brainer about what bulbs we’ll be buying for our new light fitting and for the rest of the house! LED Planet have a vast range of bulbs which can easily be selected by choosing a brand, room or base. The range has plenty of options to ensure you can pick the perfect lighting for each room in your home. This infographic gives a bit more perspective in to the benefits of LED lighting.
Have you switched to LED lighting yet?
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