general, lifestyle

Meet Scott of Hamiedog Menswear

1. Tell me briefly a bit about yourself?

I’ve lived in North Tyneside all of my life and currently live in North Shields. I’m *just* on the right side of 40 and work for a local charity full time so most of my spare time and weekends is spent looking after the business.

2. What made you decide you wanted to start up a business in retail?

I have always been a follower of men’ fashion and just got a bit bored of the offerings and the limited choices available. I like to try things on rather than shop online and I hate huge big shops which are always too busy, too warm and have too many items on the rails so you can’t even look properly. It was never a long term plan however, I just had a bit of a ‘lightbulb moment’ when I was out shopping one day and that’s where it all started from.

3. What was the idea behind Hamiedog?

I’ve always thought that menswear was terribly under represented on the high street. Often in department stores, the mens section is in the basement or in a little corner of the first floor after being forced to walk through the ladieswear. There aren’t a great deal of menswear stores around anymore, less so for independent retailers. I really wanted to change this by being able to offer something which was fashionable but also affordable and perhaps a little bit different to the mainstream offerings. There are a few other independent menswear retailers here in the town but I think we complement each other very well and there’s not really any overlap with the type of goods we sell.

4. How did you get started in this business?

Sourcing funding was the biggest task for me because I had no savings that could be used so I started looking at startup business loans and support. There’s actually plenty of support out there and the process was much easier than I had thought. It does involve lots of preparation though, including writing a business plan and making predictions for sales and cashflow. Before any money is offered, they need to see that you’ve done the hard work and thought everything through properly. There’s only so much you can do of course, but I also had free sessions from business mentors when I was starting out and these were very useful.

5. What about your location. What made you decide on Whitley Bay as an area to trade?

The location of the shop was one of the most important elements for me and Whitley Bay was always at the top of my list. I had to balance things correctly because I didn’t want to start with too big a unit but also didn’t want to be away from a high street out of sight. Park View is a wonderful street and is full of independent retailers so when I saw there were a few small units available I knew that I had to have one of them. I did plenty of research to look at footfall and competition and realised that Whitley Bay was ideal. The shop unit that I chose did need quite a lot of work before it was ready to move into, so a lot of my budget went on rewiring, refurbishing and decoration and making the place secure. Prior to me moving in the unit was a chiropodist and has also been a barbers, sweet shop and offices so it has seen quite a few businesses come and go. Hopefully we will be here to stay for a long time because I can see that 2018 is going to be an exciting time to be in Whitley Bay when the Dome and sea front developments are complete.

6. How long have you been in business?

I got the keys to the shop in July 2016 and opened for business at the end of October 2016 so we’re still new and still getting established.

7. How do you go about getting the clothing which is in your store?

Initially, as a new business that was quite a challenge so I started with using wholesale suppliers for my stock. But after around four months I was approached by a local clothing designer and realised that using local suppliers was going to be a much more beneficial way of doing business. As we began to get more established, more local designers got on board and this has definitely been a massive turning point. Working with local businesses means that you have a much better relationship with your suppliers, on a personal level rather than on a corporate one. We’re really lucky to now have 8 clothing labels in store, all based in the north east.

8. What would you say is unique about Hamiedog Menswear?

The ‘shop local’ approach is something which has become very important for us. Because we have such a good relationship with our local suppliers it means that we can sell clothing items which are totally exclusive to our store that people can’t source from anywhere else. Fashion can sometimes be a bit too serious and we have proven in our first year that people like to wear things that are a little bit different to what everyone else has got on. Any t-shirt that has ‘Whitley Bay’, ‘North’ or links to Newcastle on it immediately becomes a best seller. People are proud to be from this part of the country and some of our pieces have made their way as far across the world as Australia. I would say that 80-90% of the stock that we currently have in store is sourced from our local suppliers and this has been so well received by our customers that sometimes it is hard to keep up with demand!

9. How do you market your business?

Marketing is always a bit of a tricky one but I have found the power of social media to be amazing. We post several times a day on Facebook and also use Instagram and Twitter. You have to make things interesting and appealing to users and ensure that you are responsive to any interaction on your pages. I have experimented with paid advertising in magazines and local publications but have found those to be disappointing so social media will be how we continue to market the business in 2018.

10. What made you come up with the name Hamiedog?

Coming up with a name took ages! I thought about using my own name but it just didn’t sound right, and I wanted to use something which was unique that nobody would have ever heard before. Then I remembered about my first pet dog when I was a young child – a Westie called Hamish. We used to call him Hamiedog and the more I thought of that name, the more I liked it as the name for the business. It is often a topic of conversation in the shop, people like to know the story (and how to pronounce it correctly) so it’s a good talking point.

11. If you had one piece of advice to give to someone just starting out in retail, what would it be?

Follow your dreams and don’t give up. There were times when I thought I’d made the biggest mistake in my life by starting a business, and then subsequently being made redundant from my only source of income just as the business had opened, but I’m a firm believer of putting in the hard work and it will pay off. You’ve got to accept that you will make mistakes, it is totally natural and is part of the learning experience but it makes you stronger and helps you to plan for the future. But if you want something to work, you’ve got to put in the effort and give it time.

12. Do you trade only from the shop?

No, we’re online as well at http://www.hamiedog.co.uk.

13. How would you describe Hamiedog in 3 words?

Small, independent and funky!

14. What are your visions for the future with Hamiedog?

I’d like to continue to grow the business and would love to move into larger premises at some point, but larger premises bring larger challenges so we’ll see how this year goes before making a decision on that one. Our online store has started to become more popular so we’ll be investing in improving our website and building our current customer base. We also will continue to get involved in more local community events and shouting about how important shopping local is. I’m also planning on using more local lads for modelling and am always interested in hearing from local designers who need an outlet for their range. I think the future is bright, we just need more people to get on board and celebrate local businesses and our wonderful shops here in Whitley Bay.

For more information on Hamiedog, check out their website or Facebook page

 

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Blogmas, christmas, general, lifestyle, parenting

Santas Grotto @ Kommunity

We’ve decided against a Panto this year. Panto was a tradition I always enjoyed as a child, however, I’ve realised it’s not something my kids seem to particularly enjoy. They like to be up singing and dancing preferring a more interaction and participation.

So, with that in mind, last weekend I took them along to a Santas Grotto a theatrical experience ran by Big Red and The Little Greens instead, held at Kommunity in Newcastle

I’d been told to use the phrase ‘Santa is expecting me’ upon arrival, which I prompted my two girls aged 6 and 9 to say, just to get them into the spirit of being about to embark on a festive adventure.

We were greeted by three elves, Poppy, Cookie and Merry played by Hildy Harland (the lady behind the idea, along with Kim Tate), Ashley Waugh and Catherine Muckle, who chatted to all of the children before the mini show even began, asking if they were excited for Christmas and if they thought they had what it takes to be one of Santas Elves. My youngest daughter said she couldn’t be an Elf, as she didn’t like the idea of cleaning up Reindeer poo.

grotto5

Poppy, Cookie and Merry then entertained us with singing and dancing, encouraging the children to join in throughout.

grotto6grotto7

Before being led on a hunt to find Santa as they entered a winter wonderland behind a big curtain, which was truly freezing cold and beautifully decorated.

grotto4

The children also had an opportunity to meet Santa in his Grotto, and were also presented with a Cookie and bell to hang on the christmas tree, which my children loved.

grotto3grotto

There was a good selection of refreshments and snacks on offer from Wildflower Creative Kitchen, and my girls enjoyed a cookie.

The event lasted about an hour, and was £15 per adult, adults free. My children throughly enjoyed it, and it is definatley worth a visit if the Grotto returns next year.

You can find out more about Santas Grotto Big Red and Little Greens and watch out for future events here

 

asd, autism, Blogmas, christmas, general, lifestyle, review, special needs

I named a star

Christmas came a little early in our house this year as the lovely people at Star Name Registry offered me the chance to name my very own star.

I have three children. Each one of them is absolutely perfect in every way and like any mother, I love them all the same. But I knew straight away I wanted to name the star after my middle child, Jessica Rose.

Jessica is 9 and has special educational needs, and because she needs the extra support and help to get by in life, and probably always will, she is my little star, and shines brightly every single day. I wanted to be able to tell her that she is so special, we named a star after her.

I received a beautiful silver box containing the Extra Bright Gift Set, which is one of their best selling packages

 

 

The gift set includes

Entry into the registry
A4 Star Name Deed
The Sky Atlas star maps
Confirmation letter
A4 silver certificate frame
surrounded by light blue tissue paper
Large silver presentation box
Extra Bright Star gift explained

This package is worth £44.99

And here is a pic of the star which we named, which we found really easily by following instructions found in the gift set

star

If naming a star after a loved on is something you would like to do, but feel this is perhaps out your budget, you can still name a star with entry into the registry, receive an A4 Star Name Deed, and confirmation letter from as little as £14.99.

Details of other packages can be found on the website

If you would like the opportunity to win an Extra Bright Star package just in time for Christmas, then you can do so by clicking this link

Winner will be announced on Friday 15th December at 5pm, and announced on Twitter and my Facebook page, then will be contacted for details which will then be passed on to Star Name Registry and used only for this competition

Good luck everyone and have a very Merry Christmas

 

Blogmas, general, humour, lifestyle

100 Truths Blogger Tag

I was tagged in a new blogger tag by Kate from Kate on thin Ice and I have never actually done a tag thing before, or been tagged, which I probably why I’ve never done one, so here goes

1. What’s your name?

Louise

2 Any nicknames or aliases?

Lou, Lou Lou and I’m not going to mention what my hubby calls me. And it’s neither lovable, or cute

3 Your gender?

Female

4 Your star sign?

Scorpio

5 How old are you?

Fucksake, 40

6 Your relationship status?

Married

7 Any children?

Three. A boy, 18 and two girls 6 and 9

8 Any pets?

None. But I’m working on it. Getting absolutely nowhere, but working on it

9 Any tattoos or piercings?

Five Tattoos, ears pierced 4 times and got my belly button done when I was young, rebellious and skinny. Took it out when pregnant with my first

10 What do you like about yourself?

My ability to express myself without caring what others think.

11 What do you dislike about yourself?

My anxiety. As soon as I become inactive or try and wind down my head starts playing tricks

12 Righty or lefty?

If handed, right. If political – lefty

Lasts

13 The last thing you drank:

Limonate Sanpellegrino. Wish I’d had Coke, wouldn’t have had to go get the can out the bin to spell it

14 The last thing you ate:

Chocolate biscuit

15 Your last phone call:

HMRC – exciting, I know

16 Your last text message:

Two crying emojis and ‘creased’ in a convo about a personalised sex aid with a friend who I shall not name

17 Your last email:

Find me a gift.com wanting me to find someone a gift I assume

18 The last song you listened to:

Demi Lovato –  Confident

19 The last book you read:

I never read books. I got ‘The Secret’ in the summer with every intention of reading it over a couple of days, and as interesting as it is, think I’m still only 2 chapters in

20 The last time you cried:

Yesterday. For some reason it was a negative, weak, crappy day.  Feeling fab today, though.

21 The last blog you read:

100 Truths Blogger Tag by Kate on thin Ice

22 The last person you spoke to:

Youngest daughter in a debate about what she’s having for tea

23 The last place you visited:

Business Factory this morning on another course as I am an absolute nerd.

24 Your last holiday abroad:

Minorca. Hate flying so sticking to the UK until I get over it

Have you ever?

25 Have you ever gotten back with an ex?

Yup

26 Have you ever been cheated on?

Yes

27 Have you ever cheated on someone?

Never

28 Have you ever lost someone special to you?

Yes

29 Have you ever been so drunk you threw up?

Drunkness always ends in throwing upness for me, which is why I prefer to not drink.

30 Have you ever fallen out of love with someone?

No. Only been in love with my hubby

31 Have you ever met someone who changed you?

Yup

32 Have you ever been in a situation where you found out who your real friends are?

I’m saying no purely because I hate the whole ‘well I know who my real friends are’. Some people, no matter how close they are to you, may just be unsure how to act in certain situations, and back away. Doesn’t mean they don’t care.

33 Have you ever kissed someone you probably shouldn’t have?

Yes

34 Have you ever found out people were talking about you behind your back?

Yes, but with good intentions and out of concern

35 Have you ever broken someone’s heart?

Very much doubt it

36 Have you ever kissed a stranger?

Quite a few

37 Have you ever had your own heart broken?

No

38 Have you ever had sex on the first date?

Hmm

39 Have you ever been arrested?

No

40 Have you ever been attracted to someone that isn’t the gender you usually find attractive?

Yes

41 Have you ever done something you regret?

I like to say I don’t live with regrets, but that’s bull. I do

42 Have you ever had a threesome?

Erm..

43 Have you ever embarrassed yourself in public?

Often. Was running for a bus once with chicken fillets in my bra (pre-kids. Skinny days) and one flew out. They cost £40 so stopped, turned back and went to retrieve it. Went home with one in my bra and one in my bag

44 Have you ever misjudged someone?

Probably

Your Beliefs and Opinions

45 Do you believe in God?

No

46 Do you believe in yourself?

Of course

47 Do you believe in Santa Claus?

Yes

48 Do you believe in ghosts?

Definitely. Or more a believer in energies

49 Do you believe in aliens?

Not sure about aliens, but life on other planets

50 Do you believe in miracles?

Unsure

51 Do you believe in the power of positive thinking?

Oh yes. I’m all about positivity and Law of Attraction

52 Do you believe in love at first sight?

Not really. Too corny. How can you love someone you don’t even know.

53 Can money make you happy?

No.

54 Would you describe yourself as a feminist?

I’ve been wondering this myself. And possibly, although not to any extreme

55 Are you pro-life or pro-choice?]

Choice

56 Do you have strong political beliefs?

No. I’m too laid back

57 Do you have strong religious beliefs?

I don’t have any religious beliefs

58 What do you think the most important thing you can give a child is?

Love, encouragement and the ability to believe in themselves

Right Now

59 Are you eating anything right now?

No, but I’m now thinking about chocolate

60 Are you drinking anything right now?

No, but hubby has just mentioned it’s nearly Christmas and I want a Copperberg Summer Fruits Cider

61 What are you listening to right now?

Hubby telling Emily off for playing Soggy Doggy on the Kitchen Floor

62 What are you thinking about right now?

How to answer question 62

63 What are you waiting for right now?

Something exciting to happen. I spend my life either in a state of, or waiting for excitement.

64 What are you most excited about right now?

Christmas. And New Year. Mostly new year I think

65 What’s your pet hate right now?

Can’t for the life of me remember even though I was banging on about something being my absolute pet hate, on Sunday. I obviously just had a bee in my bonnet

66 What’s your favourite thing right now?

I have so many favourite things I can’t name just one.

67 If you weren’t answering these questions, what would you be doing right now?

Getting ready to go to Kettlecise but I’ve got too much I need to do tonight

Firsts

68 Your first best friend:

Gemma Frost and we are still friends now. 35 years later.

69 Your first kiss:

Urgh, I can still taste the cheep cider.

70 Your first celebrity crush:

Christian Slater

71 Your first holiday:

Corfu

72 Your first pet:

Hamster called Micky who bit me

73 Your first regret:

I regret jumping off a wall and knocking my front tooth out when I was 10

74 Your first job:

Admin

75: Your first childhood memory:

So many childhood memories and all happy ones

Which would you choose?

76 Love or money?

Love every time

77 Twitter or Facebook?

Facebook. As if I can say what I’m wanting to in 180 characters, it’s rediculous

78 Hook up or relationship?

Relationship

79 Dogs or cats?

Dogs

80 Coffee or tea?

Coffee although I rarely drink it

81 Beer or wine?

Beer. Can’t do wine

82 Sweet or savoury?

Depends. If I’m at a party I’m all about the quiche and pie. If at home I could quite happily have cheesecake for tea

83 Introvert or extrovert?

Well, I thought I was an introvert, but turns out I’m quite an extrovert.

84 Vampires or werewolves?

Vampires

85 Seaside or countryside?

Countryside. Love living by the sea, but I’d rather spend a day in the country

86 Summer or winter?

Winter, purely because it’s so much easier to be winter body ready

87 Books or movies

Movies although I always fall asleep. I haven’t got the attention span for either tbh

88 Horror or comedy

Horror, although again, I’ll fall asleep

A few random questions to finish on

89 Do you wish you could change your past?

Nope. Relive some of it, but not change

90 What’s your dream job?

It was Journalist. Until I realised reporting wasn’t for me. I like to use my imagination and write about things I feel passionate about, so blogging. And for anyone thinking it isn’t a job. A lot of time goes into running a blog and it certainly can generate an income

91 What’s your guilty pleasure?

Made in Chelsea

92 What are you afraid of?

Loneliness/isolation

93 What was the first thing you wanted to be when you grew up?

Journalist. I used to sit in my room on a night time putting my own magazine together compleatly inspired by Smash Hits and Big

94 If you could have any superpower, what would it be?

The ability to read minds

95 If you could change anything about your life what would it be?

To live without anxiety

96 Would you want immortality?

Not sure. Saw a video earlier of a woman aged 102 watching a video of herself dancing in the 1930s. Was bitter sweet as she was looking back on herself for the first time, but said what she would give to be able to get out of her bed and dance again.

If I could stay youthful and in good health, the yes

97 If you could interview anyone alive or dead who would you choose?

Tom Hardy. Not only because he’s a bit of all right. But from interviews I have seen of him or read, he seems pretty deep and I like deep. I think he would be interesting

98 Would you say you are happy?

Completely

99 What one piece of advice would you give to yourself at age eighteen?

Just go with the flow. Everything will be just fine in the end

100 Where would you like to be in five years’ time?

In the same happy place I am in now, but with more success and less bloody ANXIETY

HOW TO JOIN IN

Just follow the simple rules below. Feel free to use the image from this post if you don’t want to create a new one.

 

RULES

1 Thank the person who nominated you and link back to their blog

2 Answer the questions honestly (skip any you don’t feel comfortable answering)

3 Tag 10-20 bloggers to take part (let them know on social media)

4 Post the questions without your answers at the bottom of your post so that they are easy to copy and paste for the people you tag

Enjoy!

Grab the questions below if you would like to take part:

The Basics

1 What’s your name?

2 Any nicknames or aliases?

3 Your gender?

4 Your star sign?

5 How old are you?

6 Your relationship status?

7 Any children?

8 Any pets?

9 Any tattoos or piercings?

10 What do you like about yourself?

11 What do you dislike about yourself?

12 Righty or lefty?

 

Lasts

13 The last thing you drank:

14 The last thing you ate:

15 Your last phone call:

16 Your last text message:

17 Your last email:

18 The last song you listened to:

19 The last book you read:

20 The last time you cried:

21 The last blog you read:

22 The last person you spoke to:

23 The last place you visited:

24 Your last holiday abroad:

 

Have you ever?

25 Have you ever gotten back with an ex?

26 Have you ever been cheated on?

27 Have you ever cheated on someone?

28 Have you ever lost someone special to you?

29 Have you ever been so drunk you threw up?

30 Have you ever fallen out of love with someone?

31 Have you ever met someone who changed you?

32 Have you ever been in a situation where you found out who your real friends are?

33 Have you ever kissed someone you probably shouldn’t have?

34 Have you ever found out people were talking about you behind your back?

35 Have you ever broken someone’s heart?

36 Have you ever kissed a stranger?

37 Have you ever had your own heart broken?

38 Have you ever had sex on the first date?

39 Have you ever been arrested?

40 Have you ever been attracted to someone that isn’t the gender you usually find attractive?

41 Have you ever done something you regret?

42 Have you ever had a threesome?

43 Have you ever embarrassed yourself in public?

44 Have you ever misjudged someone?

 

Your Beliefs and Opinions

45 Do you believe in God?

46 Do you believe in yourself?

47 Do you believe in Santa Claus?

48 Do you believe in ghosts?

49 Do you believe in aliens?

50 Do you believe in miracles?

51 Do you believe in the power of positive thinking?

52 Do you believe in love at first sight?

53 Can money make you happy?

54 Would you describe yourself as a feminist?

55 Are you pro-life or pro-choice?

56 Do you have strong political beliefs?

57 Do you have strong religious beliefs?

58 What do you think the most important thing you can give a child is?

 

Right Now

59 Are you eating anything right now?

60 Are you drinking anything right now?

61 What are you listening to right now?

62 What are you thinking about right now?

63 What are you waiting for right now?

64 What are you most excited about right now?

65 What’s your pet hate right now?

66 What’s your favourite thing right now?

67 If you weren’t answering these questions, what would you be doing right now?

 

Firsts

68 Your first best friend:

69 Your first kiss:

70 Your first celebrity crush:

71 Your first holiday:

72 Your first pet:

73 Your first regret:

74 Your first job:

75: Your first childhood memory:

 

Which would you choose?

76 Love or money?

77 Twitter or Facebook?

78 Hook up or relationship?

79 Dogs or cats?

80 Coffee or tea?

81 Beer or wine?

82 Sweet or savoury?

83 Introvert or extrovert?

84 Vampires or werewolves?

85 Seaside or countryside?

86 Summer or winter?

87 Books or movies

88 Horror or comedy

 

A few random questions to finish on

89 Do you wish you could change your past?

90 What’s your dream job?

91 What’s your guilty pleasure?

92 What are you afraid of?

93 What was the first thing you wanted to be when you grew up?

94 If you could have any superpower, what would it be?

95 If you could change anything about your life what would it be?

96 Would you want immortality?

97 If you could interview anyone alive or dead who would you choose?

98 Would you say you are happy?

99 What one piece of advice would you give to yourself at age eighteen?

100 Where would you like to be in five years’ time?

 

general, lifestyle

Lessons of 2017

I know it’s still only early December, but I’m powering on with Blogmas, and decided to change it round a bit today and write about things I have learnt this year, rather than about my day.

First off

To stop caring what other people think

When my kids want to go swimming, but I refuse to wear a bathing costume, I’m spoiling their fun because of my own silly hang ups. My kids will look back and wonder why I never took them swimming, but will anyone really notice, remember or even care how I looked in a bathing cossie?

Infact, let’s just get this out there now. This is me in a swimming costume. Headless, but me. I took it earlier this year when my main focus on life was to spend 2017 dropping the pounds. The purpose of the pic was for my own personal use only to record progress and defo not share on the internet. Not ever..

I hablogven’t dropped the pounds. I’ve probs chunked up if anything. Happiness and my love for food has stopped me once again this year, no matter how much I work out, which is a lot. Still feel freaking awesome, though

Learn to love yourselves ladies, exactly as you are! 

To never give up

If I want something, no matter how out of reach it may sound, I’m going for it. I’m not talking material. I don’t aspire to live any kind of flash lifestyle. I’m all about character building, confidence building and making dreams a reality.

I’m leaving 2017 proud in what I have achieved and excited for the future. I know exactly where I aim to be this time next year, and I’m gonna get there.

Live in the moment

My children seem to be growing up so fast, too fast and I’m finding it difficult to decided whether my family is complete, or not. I treasure every single night I kiss my girls good night, and every single hug they give. Because one day, sadly they’ll reach an age when they may not want a good night kiss.

Also I like to plan things to look forward to throughout the year. Then spend the days/weeks and sometimes even months in between on a countdown. Then things happen during or after that time that I had no idea would, which I would never look forward to. Not sure this makes sense, but trust me. Don’t wish time away

I am in control of my feelings

I’ve concluded that depression can be ‘cured’, but anxiety cannot. I now understand that to remain in a happy state, I need to fill my life doing things I love with people who bring something to my life. But anxiety lives with me every day. I know this because I wake in the night frequently in a state of panic. It’s when I’m asleep it gets me. So I wake and fill my head with positive thoughts and remind myself of all the reason I have to be happy. I do it in order to regain control. And I win. Every single day

Seeing other people happy

I’m also quite an empath and pick up on others feelings. But one of my favourite things in the world is seeing others happy. If I can do anything to make someone feel special, I will

Surround yourself with positivity

I can’t deal with negativity. Or rather I won’t. Not that I’m often around negativity. You attract the energy you give out, so make it positive

That life is an adventure

An adventure can be jumping out of a plane for some people, or embarking on a journey around the world. For me, it is in creating a life for myself and my family by fulfilling dreams, enjoying family holidays, and making happy memories. Or even just watching fireworks out of the bathroom window

window

Chase your dreams

And turn them into a reality. You’re never to old to do something new, you’ve just got to be brave enough to try. Don’t let anyone tell you that you can’t do something, show them you can

The importance of fun

It doesn’t matter where I am, or who I’m with, I often just have a strong desire to be silly, and to laugh. Even if life isn’t going how I’d like it to, or I’m having a bad day. Fun is a priority to me. As a person who spent many, many years feeling sad and unhappy, I realise how important it is to not take life, or yourself, too seriously.

I have become stronger.

So much stronger. I was thinking just yesterday about how many times I have cried this year. Think it’s a small handful. I used to take every single thing to heart and let so many situation or comments reduce me to tears. Now I don’t. I’ve even had moments this year where I’ve thought ‘Why aren’t I crying? Why am I not upset’. It’s because I’m stronger. Still emotional, still sensitive, but stronger.

I have a voice

And I know I’m being heard. I’ve received messsges of support and encouragement from friends, from people I went to school with and haven’t even seen since then, and from complete strangers. And they all tell me the same thing. Keep doing what you’re doing, because you’re helping people. And that’s why I share personal stories. I am a believer if you have a story which could inspire others, you should share it

share

My mindset is rubbing off on my children

One thing which sticks in my mind this year is my 6-year-old daughter asking me if she was awesome, because she felt awesome. She also often tells me, her older sister, and friends they are beautiful. And by this she means inside and out. I love that. I love her expressiveness and her confidence and I’ll do all I can to ensure she grows to be a confident young lady, too

My son also told me this year that he plans to go to uni next year. He said he has big aspirations and knows with hard work and a positive mindset, he can achieve them. He makes me proud every single day

How much I love writing

I just find having the ability to express yourself and open up about things others perhaps wouldn’t, so liberating. It’s also my therapy,  a journal to look back on, and memories for my children once I’m gone.

Blogmas, general, lifestyle

Besties, Balloons and Blogmas Day 6

I realised last night just how much in need I was of a good night out and catch up with friends. We do see each other quite often, but we don’t always get time to sit down and talk about what is going on in our lives, and last night we got to do that.

We went out to celebrate some good news our really good friend Jeannie has had this past week. First of all let me tell you Jeannie is the kindest, most caring person you could ever meet. I’ve known her about two years I think and I can’t even remember how we became closer as friends.  But she is just sunshine, and she’s there whenever you need a friend. Obviously I’m not going to mention what her good news is, that’s not my story to tell. But she has so much to look forward to and last night we wanted her to feel like the special lady that she is.

So I popped out yesterday afternoon to get some helium balloons to decorate our table, and diamonte confetti. I chose three, two stars and a heart. Only I hadn’t realised how huge the heart was till I went to pick them up, so trying to navigate my way home with that flying in my face was interesting.

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I later on dropped them at the restaurant, went home to quickly get ready, and about three hours later (not even joking) I was good to go.

Jeannie chose to book a table at newly opened Italian and Mediterranean restaurant. I arrived first, then Jenny then the lovely lady herself along with Debra.

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We chose our food, then we were very kindly brought a garlic bread over to enjoy whilst catching up. The food was so nice and we all thoroughly enjoyed. And of course with it being a special occasion, there had to be desert. And there has to be food pics

The night went by too fast as we shared news of whats been going on since we last all got together, our plans for Christmas, and our excitement for getting together with even more of our friends at a party Saturday night.

As the night was coming to an end, we were kindly given a shot of Amaretto each. Jenny was driving so Jeannie decided we should share the third shot. j5 Then we left, balloons and all. We had issues getting the heart balloon in the car so decided it should fly out with window, me holding it. Which was fine until it blew off the ribbon and headed for space.

Reading over this blog it’s pretty boring. But I don’t need to include details of the night or any attempts at humour, or any major excitement. I just want to make it about Jeannie and for her to know just how awesome she is and we can not wait to watch, love and support her as she starts on her new journey xx

Blogmas, christmas, general, lifestyle, review

The Inventors’ Ball @ Enchanted Parks 2017

Tonight was the night myself and my two girls Jessica and Emily, have been really looking forward to. The opening of Enchanted Parks.

This annual 5 day event, once again sees the already beautiful Saltwell park come to life in another after dark adventure.

Last year was the first year we visited, being too late to purchase tickets previously. I was surprised to see feedback that it didn’t meet its usual standard, we thoroughly enjoyed it. So this year I expected they may have upped their Enchanted Park game

This years ‘Inventors Ball’ themed event tells the story of Ursula – the eldest daughter of William Wailes and Heiress to the Saltwell Estate.

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Ursula greets visitors upon the start of their magical adventure, and using image projection, Ursula is brought to life. Ursulas’ wandering mind reminds us all that ‘the body is a machine, a fleshy container for the intellect’, and whatever she thinks she is, she becomes, which she then goes on to demonstrate.  I was impressed already as I truly believe that, too.

Whilst mesmerised by the beautiful Ursula, thunder could be heard in the distance, along with lightning in the trees – and we could see electrical sparks and crackles projected upon the façade of Saltwell Towers.

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This was probably my favourite piece this year. We spent a good while just watching and taking in the atmosphere felt by the excitement of both children and adults.

We then continued our adventure through the park, meeting many characters on our way which my children loved and stopped to speak to every single one of them.

Throughout the park we winded our way through many more beautiful installations, including giant illuminated bunnies, and night creatures down by the stream.

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My girls particularly enjoyed walking up the winding path alongside flower stems which when we shook, fariesreleased a fairy.
My husband however, wasn’t impressed one of our girls was a little over enthusiastic and he suffered a few bumps on the head as Jessica gave it a shake shouting ‘Come on out, fairies. I want to see you’!!

Singing and dancing also filled the park, as we saw silhouettes of beautiful ballerinas, whilst enjoying the tones of a very cheerful pineapple.

The lake at Saltwell was lit up this year with the moon which Ursula cleverly managed to capture with a lasso to dazzle us all.

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After walking thorough the Apothercarist’s Garden full of enormous illuminated plants full of healing properties, an animal menagerie of a string quartet playing by the waterfall and the flowers for Ursula,

we’d reached the end of our Enchanted adventure, and joined a crowd of visitors gathered together, anticipating what was about to happen as a clock in the trees displayed a countdown. Then as the timer hit zero, a character appeared and began to pace up and down with a machine producing smoke. And then, we watched as the Spirit of the Cyclone appeared before us.

This was spectacular and happens every 15 minutes. We had just over a minute to wait, which was fine. But please don’t be put off if you have to wait much longer. It really is worth it and would be a shame to miss and it ends the magical experience just perfectly.

Well done NewcastleGateshead Initiative and Gateshead Council. You completely blew it out the water with this magnificent event. My two girls aged 6 and 9 loved every single second of it as did I. My husband although tired after a long and cold day at work and hungry, thoroughly enjoyed it too.

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Excited for next years already, although I have no idea how you can top this.

Thank you so much to Rachel Horton of Gateshead Culture Team, for the opportunity to blog about and share my experience of this fabulous event.

Tickets are still available for this event, running until sunday 10th December, and purchased here http://www.shopnewcastlegateshead.com/tickets/enchanted-parks-2017/

Blogmas, general, lifestyle

Prosecco Jam and Inspo Baubles

Today was ran on about three hours sleep. I heard Jess up in the night and my first though was ‘those bloody stockings.’ The girls have got their stockings hung off their bunk beds, and seem to think if they put them there, they will automatically be filled with presents in the morning, regardless of the date.  I guessed she was up with excitement, or disappointment of an empty stocking what with it only being the 4th.

But she said she had a poorly tummy. I put her back to bed. She got up about four more times over the next three hours complaining each time of a sore tummy. I thought she must have a bug and I’d keep her off school today. Except there is no keeping Jessica off unless she is physically sick. She can’t bare to miss a day of school.

However, the first thing she told me this morning was she felt better. She’d just had in her words ‘the biggest poo of her life’. Sorry if tmi. It certainly was for me as I was stood spreading Marmite on my toast

Anyway, she seemed absolutely fine and as her taxi pulled up, she ran out the door, still wearing her santa hat, shouting ‘Ho Ho Ho’

I spent the morning in town looking for Christmas pjs for the girls and all the usual stuff that goes in Christmas Eve boxes. And I also picked up some rather funky Chrismas tree  Candy Skulls decs and Inspo quote baubles. Random, but I like to be different

And who knew you could eat Prosecco and Mojitos. And wear chocolate perfume. As yummy as it may sound the perfume wasn’t good. I sprayed loads of it on myself and really wished I hadn’t. I spent the rest of the morning walking round getting the most sickly sweet wafts, desperately trying not to gag. Although, on reflection, maybe it was room spray and not even purfume after all

 

Jess brought an invitation home from school. And now we’re super excited to go there Saturday morning to watch a movie together, with hot dogs and pop corn.

And tomorrow after school, we’re going on an Enchanted Adventure..

 

autism, Blogmas, christmas, general, lifestyle

Making it Magical

Todays plan was to buy our Christmas tree. We had a real one last year and thought we would again this year. However, that never happened as I spotted a Juke Box, went into a serious state of excitement, and we came home with that instead. Random. However, it doesn’t work and shall be going back tomorrow and we will go for our tree one night this week.

We still spent the afternoon looking round garden centres (everyone does at Christmas, right?). The girls spotted a Santa wandering round dishing out haribos, chose an angel each for the tree, and threw a coin in a pond and made a wish

I listened as Emily said with her eyes closed ‘I wish, for a Unicorn’. I was about to tell her not to tell us her wish but say it inside her head. But at the same time I was intrigued to know her thoughts. She has a crazy imagination and is very expressive.

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Jessica was next. She closed her eyes, then said ‘I wish, to go for sunday dinner’. That  wasn’t quite in our plan for today, but we had to make her wish come true.

We’re finding Jess quite difficult to deal with at the minute. For anyone reading this, who doesn’t already know, she has autism. I don’t know if it’s the excitement of the build up to Christmas, or all the lights, and music everywhere. But going out anywhere with her is proving quite difficult as she darts off in all directions. It’s challenging, more so than ususal and other people seem less understanding of her behaviour as she grows older

But then when we went for the lunch which she wished for, I sat looking at her tucking into her turkey and mash, wearing her Santa hat and all I could think is she is just perfect

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Blogmas, christmas, general, lifestyle, review

A local festive day with my girls

One thing which I love about Whitley Bay, is the sense of community. With a large number of independent business owners and sole traders, everyone supports each other. I’ve lived here most of my life, and it isn’t till this past year I’ve got to know other locals and often spot a familiar face when out and about.

In summer I enjoy the festivals. The singing, watching children dancing and all the delicious food on offer. I also enjoy the evening events which seem to be becoming more and more of a regular thing in the area, which is great as there is always something to plan with friends to look forward to throughout the year.

I love a Christmas market. Think I’ve been to two already this year and we’re only on to December 2nd. This afternoon, along with my girls we went along to Whitley Bay Station Christmas Fayre, organised by Stephen Andrews of Newcastle Building Society.

We arrived around lunch time and it was pretty busy and saw a large array of tables showcasing some beautiful products and information of services, including The Fostering Company, Based in Killingworth and ran by a team of people dedicated to helping children and young people in creating supportive, consistent and enriching fostering environments.

We first of all took a look aroud, soaking up the cheery atmosphere and listening to the choir sing.

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First off, the sweet cones caught the kids eyes, and mine too. I’m actually sat in the Crab and Waltzer as I write this having just had lunch and now passing time waiting for my hubby to come meet us. The kids are in the play area, and I’m feeling very tempted to tuck into one of them..

We then went to check out the fabulous work of  Sea Tern Print. A creative print workshop, and had a chat with local artist, Michelle who told me a bit about the Social Enterprise set up to help people using creative print activities.

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Then I noticed the Virtual Reality area, hosted by Pirate Escape, and Jessica decided to give it a go. She took a seat and was immersed into a fully interactive 3d virtual world, on a rollercoaster experience as we could see on the big screen.

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She only lasted a few seconds however, before declaring she was scared, which I can quite imagine. This is something I’d  like to give a go, along with the Pirate Escape with friends. We did a similar escape experience last year.

We didn’t escape in the hour. Doubt we’d have even escaped in two without a lot of input from the lads who ran it. But mainly because it was after a few bottles of wine, so I definitely think we need to give Pirate Escape a go, whilst sober. We’d smash it!

Speaking of alcohol,  I then got to sample the really, really delicious V Gallery Vodka and Rubis Chocolate Wine.

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If you think chocolate wine sounds amazing, the vodka was Marshmallow and Toffee with Fudge flavour and devine. I think I really need to stop saying that I don’t like vodka, because I clearly do, and I shall be buying some of the gift sets for Christmas. For myself.

We then popped over to meet Katie who runs Fun Little Foodies, an activity class which promotes an enjoyment of food and cooking for children, and the girls made a mini Christmas pudding out of a chocolate crispy bar and teeny tiny decorations to go on top

I then spotted a Facebook friend who I’ve yet to meet in person, Jill from Daisy First Aid, and The Family Hub – a play centre which incorporates a range of play activities for children 0-4. Jill kindly gave Emily a beautiful glitter Tinkerbell tattoo. Then both the girls had their faces painted.

Other stalls which were there, but I didn’t get round to stopping at as the sugar rush began to kick in with my kids which meant it was time to leave, included Pureknead, a bakery which sells a range of artisan breads, cakes, biscuits, sweet goods and more.

Nord, a bottle shop and tasting room based in Whitley Bay. Edens Cafe, located on Park View and ran by Janice and Robert. If you haven’t already been to Edens, you have to go. I can highly recommend their sandwiches.

Jason Friend Photography, award winning professional travel and landscape photographer, and the Whitley Bay Brewing Company, ran by Gary who also owns 42nd Street, another place I like to go eat with my family, or drink with friends.

Thank you so much to Martin and Julie from Olives at the Station, for inviting me along to blog.

If you’d like anymore information on any of the local business mentioned, then check out their Facebook pages