Omlet Eglu Go: Rabbit Hutch and Run Review 

We have three rabbits; two are paired up and I will be writing more about their enclosure soon, but the third is a smaller breed who lives alone. Having chewed through the wood on his previous enclosure, it was time for a replacement!

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We wanted a home for him that provides freedom to be inside or out at all times, gives him plenty of space, and allows him to graze without fear of him digging out. (After all, this is the bun who was once found by a neighbour in the middle of the road after he dug a hole and escaped!) After some research, we decided that the Omlet might be a good fit for him, and they kindly agreed to let us review the Eglu Go hutch and 2 metre run.

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The Omlet took quite a while to assemble! The instructions were not as clear as they could be, but there is a YouTube video to watch, which makes it clearer. We made a couple of minor mistakes, which added to the time it took. Plus we had to take a section of the hutch apart because one of the pre-fitted internal nuts had come loose. It was easy enough to sort that out ourselves though without any major hassle. It was fully assembled and ready to use within 3 hours, so I guess that’s not too bad in the scheme of things.

Once put together though, it is low maintence, easy to clean and it is obvious that it is very durable. There are lots of little features that I really like, such as the hay rack and bottle attached to the door and slide out tray for easy cleaning. I also like the attached floor to ensure nothing can dig in or out.

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Patchy, our bunny, is given access to both the hutch and run at all times (personally I feel it would be far too small to ever shut him in the hutch alone) and he has free-range access to the garden under supervision sometimes too. He has plenty of space to hop, stretch and periscope!

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Omlet, Eglu Go, rabbit, pets, hutch and run, review, furbabies, furry family, bunny, enclosure

Squiggle and one of our cats also demonstrate how much space there is…

Omlet, Eglu Go, rabbit, pets, hutch and run, review, furbabies, furry family, bunny, enclosure

Omlet, Eglu Go, rabbit, pets, hutch and run, review, furbabies, furry family, bunny, enclosure

We have been using the OMLET Eglu Go hutch and run for over a month now and it has been thoroughly tested in that time. After just a few days of Patchy moving in, we discovered a fox trying hard to get into the Omlet. Given that my daughter had commented that she heard a banging sound quite a while beforehand, I suspect it had been trying for quite sometime. We even spotted muddy paw prints on the hutch roof!

We were relieved it withstood this assault without any sign of weakness, but we have made a few extra safety modifications since them to improve security further still. This includes a padlock on the run door, cable ties on the joints and a couple of bricks at the back. We also throw a blanket or two over the run at night as well.

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In Summary – Eglu Go hutch and 2m run

  • RRP £360
  • Pros: durable, easy to maintain, secure.
  • Cons: ease of assembly.

Aside from the difficulty with assembly, we really like the Omlet Eglu Go. I think it is a good investment that is best suited for smaller breeds of rabbit, ideally with regular access to the garden too. To purchase, visit the Omlet website. There are also various useful accessories, such as full length clear cover (£24.99) and extreme temperature liner (£34.99).

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Omlet also sell a range of other pet enclosures. See the website for their complete range of products and accessories.

*Disclosure: We received a free Omlet Eglu Go for the purpose of review. However, all thoughts and opinions are my own.

**This post contains affiliate links. I receive a small amount if you purchase through my website. This does not cost you any extra.

Cycling Adventures: Exploring St Albans 

Now, I am the first to admit that I am not a regular cyclist. However, I do love being outdoors and I also like a challenge! So when Inntravel set a cycling adventure challenge; to explore our local area by bike, creating a cycle route, then share what we discovered, I was more than happy to take this on!

Inntravel are a holiday company that have been offering cycling holidays in Europe since the late 1980s. They arrange the hire of a high-quality bike and you cycle self-guided from one welcoming hotel to the next, following detailed maps and route notes while your luggage is transported ahead. Inntravel plan all their biking holidays carefully, making sure that each route is tried and tested, preferably using quiet roads and country lanes. They try to ensure the routes are enjoyable and interesting, giving you the chance to take in the beautiful scenery and gorgeous views.

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Our cycle route went from London Colney (Hertfordshire) across St Albans to Verulamium Park, via Highfield Park then onto the Alban Way. This is a fairly short linear route that covers approximately 5.5 miles each way, so only about an hour or so of cycling in total, but with ample opportunity to pause and take in some of the nearby attractions, or stop for food and/ or refreshments.

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Heading from London Colney high street, the route takes us over a fly-over, which cyclists need to dismount for, onto Nightingale Lane then into Highfield park. The park is a lovely place to explore or have a picnic. There is a tree trail and history trail, as well as a maze.

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Highfield Park
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Highfield Park (with maze to the left)

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Leaving the park, the next step of the route takes us down bike lanes until we reach the Hill End Garden of Rest that leads onto Alban Way. Alban Way is a cycle path that has been created from an old railway line that joins Hatfield to St Albans.

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Alban Way cycle path

The Alban Way disjoints briefly at Orient Close where we cycle down a quiet street. There is generally very little traffic though so it is a peaceful ride back onto the Alban Way again.

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Alban Way by Orient Close

Just past here is an opportunity to dismount if you wish to and follow the footpath along a small section of the River Ver Trail to discover the wildlife and explore Sopwell Nunnery. We loved doing this! Alternatively you can stay on the cycle path until you get to Cottonmill Lane.

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At this point there is some road cycling including crossing a fairly busy intersection (there are traffic lights though). On the other side of the road, is Westminster Lodge and the entrance to Verulamium Park using the cycle path that runs from the athletics track, through the park – where we take in the beautiful views of the Abbey Cathedral in the distance, as well as the scenic views and historical attractions across the rest of the park – onto the Roman Verulamium museum at the other end.

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Views of Verulamium Park (from Roman Hypocaust)
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Cycle path near The London Gate

 Verulamium park has a wealth of Roman history to enjoy, including the mosaics/ hypocaust, remains of the Roman wall, theatre and the museum. If history is not your thing, you might enjoy a walk around the lake or visit the Wildlife Trust centre instead.

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Before heading back home along the same route, you can also stop for refreshments at the Inn on the Park, nip into Ye Olde Fighting Cocks (rumoured to be the oldest pub in Britain) at the other end of the lake, head down past the museum to pretty St Michaels Village that has a selection of delightful pubs, or grab a bite at the well-known Waffle House.

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After our local cycling adventure, I really the idea of a cycling holiday. Slow paced and relaxing, yet active, with plenty of time to be outdoors and a chance to enjoy exploring new places; that all sounds ideal to me! Plus I like the fact that with a cycling holiday, you don’t need to stick to circular routes or have to turn around and head back to your original destination because your luggage is forwarded onto your next destination. Also as they are not groups cycles, they can be personalised with your choice of selected routes for the day and travel at your individual pace. It sounds great for any level of cyclist, including very occasional complete amateurs like myself!

Disclosure: This post is in collaboration with Inntravel.

Camping Guide: Get Organised With Halfords

We have been on many outdoor style holidays, staying at campsites or holiday parks. We tend to be caravanners and often, but not always, opt for locations by the beach. We have had lots of precious moments from waking up to see rabbits hopping about outside our window, to exploring Lulworth Cove and Durdle Door for the first time last year, and discovering adventurous nature paths from our holiday site to the beach.

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Dorset

However, I reflect back on our very first holiday as parents – a caravan trip to the seaside – and we were so unorganised and unprepared! Don’t get me wrong; there are lots of special memories from the trip – Squiggle’s first touch of sand, putting her toes in the sea for the very first time, sleeping away from home with her for the first time ever. It was wonderful in so many ways.

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First paddle in the sea.

But the caravan was basic with no heating, so it was very much like camping in a tent. Plus it was out of season too, so not very warm- and as new parents we forgot so many camping essentials! We even had to dash out in the evening to get supplies; we were literally banging on the window of the nearest store just as they closed up, begging them to let us in for 2 mins to make a quick purchase – cue a supermarket sweep style grab for blankets and extra thick sleeping bag! Oops!!!

Halfords have created a useful Guide To Camping with lots of helpful essential packing tips, so luckily you don’t have to make the same Rookie mistakes as we did! There are also suggestions for campsites; from beach lovers to cycling and outdoor adventures, wild camping, and caravanning sites, plus other camping ideas too – there is even a playlist if you need some musical inspiration!

What are your top camping tips? I would love to read them! Leave me a comment.



*Disclosure: This is a sponsored post in collaboration with Halfords.

Innovations in Blogging – What Does The Future Hold?

When I started blogging, I did it simply because I enjoyed writing; I believed that it would never be anything more than a hobby. Not least of all because I honestly thought the only people who could ever make any money from it were the people who got in there quick, when the whole blogging thing first took off. I realise now that is true of some things but I seriously don’t know why I thought that about blogging in particular! 

Fast forward to now and I still blog for the love of it… but now I also get a reasonable part- time income from it too. It is hard work, and there is so much more to it than I could possibly imagine before I got into it. But then again, when you do something you love, it doesn’t really feel like a job as such. And in some ways it has been easier, or at least more achievable, to monetise than I originally thought. I guess the saying is true that it often seems impossible until it is done. So I don’t foresee the popularity of blogging dwindling, if anything I think it will continue to grow.

I firmly believe that blogging can kind of be compared to books; in the sense that although the format might change (e.g. kindle books instead of hard copies), people continue to love to read books in one form or another – regardless of how popular TV, film and internet is. Regardless of other media, the love of books still remains strong. 

So in future, I think blogging will still be popular, and YouTube and podcasts will continue to grow in popularity but not at the expense of written blogs. But I also think bloggers are versatile and flexible so will adapt to the latest trend, as an addition to the services they offer. I suspect platforms like wordpress will continue to be front- runners.

Blogging, I feel, has also become more of a supportive community than it used to be. We all have our strengths, our own angles and our unique points; so to an extent there is room for us all. By working together, we lift each other up, and this makes us all stronger. I think in future our community will continue to grow and thrive; with more collaborations, networking and team work within blogging. I think this will be the case both online and in real life via conferences, events and meet ups. I suspect we will also see an expansion on the number of PR agencies, and an increase in websites who connect bloggers to brands. 

In summary, I would like to think that blogging will remain a viable way to earn an income and the community will continue to grow. At least, I hope so! 

Disclosure: This post is written as part of a study by innovationcompany.co.uk on what bloggers see as the future of blogging. All thoughts and opinions are my own. 

Choosing A Family Car: Important Considerations

Whilst we spend alot of our time out and about on foot, we do still rely on our family car to provide us with more freedom and flexibility. At present however, ‘our’ family car is actually just a company car, which we may not even have access to in the future, so we have been discussing and researching into the possibility of getting a new car.

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Stock image

Personally, finding an eco-friendly car is one of my first considerations. Ideally I would love an electric car if at all possible, but in reality other factors might prohibit this. However, this is certainly an important part of our research. Auto Express lists their top 10 green cars of 2017, which includes a combination of electric, hybrid and traditional cars. Top of the list is BMWi3 followed by the Toyota Prius. However, I was also surprised and impressed though with how many electric cars are available now.

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Stock image

Of course though, the absolute top priority is safety. Accident Advice Helpline have created an interactive guide to some of the safest cars of 2016 – 2017.  It shows safety percentages for drivers, passengers and pedestrians so gives a clear picture of different aspects of safety. You can also filter based on the type of car you are searching for.

Again, the Toyota Prius appears high up on the list here too, so this car would be a great all rounder if environment and safety were the only two factors we needed to consider. But, of course, budget also plays a part in the decision too though!

However, these guides highlighting key information are really useful. Then it is just up to us to weigh up all the factors and decide on balance which car is best, within our budget. Regardless of outcome though, I feel much better knowing that I have researched properly!

*Disclosure: This is a collaborative post. 

Bakerdays Letterbox Cake: Review and Giveaway

To help celebrate Squiggle’s 9th birthday recently, Bakerdays kindly sent us a letterbox cake. We were lucky enough to review one of these yummy cakes previously too, which you can read about here

Since then though, there have been lots of developments over at Bakerdays! Their website has had a facelift; now even more user- friendly and is looking great, with new designs and more products being added. 

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Mobile version (android)

The cake arrived well packaged and in perfect condition, same as last time. There isn’t excess packaging or too much plastic either, which I am happy about. There were also thoughtful finishing touches in the box, such as the party blower, some balloons and a little card. I also like the card that says who packed it too.

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I chose this rabbit design after specifically searching the website for the word ‘bunny’ because Squiggle had a pet theme this year for her birthday. I then personalised the writing. Last time I ordered dairy free but I decided to order the regular vanilla sponge on this occasion, just to compare. (Generally we opt to eat as close to vegan as possible but aren’t strict about it!)

Squiggle was really excited that a cake arrived through the letterbox for her! She was very pleased with the design too…

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We took the cake outside for a garden picnic and Squiggle had the honour of cutting her cake…

Squiggle also got to have first taste too as the birthday girl…

Her verdict was “Mmmm… it is YUMMY!”

I enjoyed it too, it was tasty and good quality. I do recall the dairy free one we had previously tasted more buttery (in a good way!) than this one, and it seemed to lack a filling, but it was yummy nonetheless!

The letterbox cake is plenty big enough for 3 people to have a very generous sized slice or two, and stays fresh for a reasonable amount of time too. It definitely makes a lovely novelty gift or surprise for someone!

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Bakerdays are kindly giving away a letterbox cake to one lucky reader! Enter via the rafflecopter below.
Open to UK residents only. Competition closes 14th June 2017. Other T&Cs apply. 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

*Disclosure: Bakerdays sent us the letterbox cake for the purpose of review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

Switching Energy Providers To Save Money

Roughly this time last year, we switched our energy provider to a clean energy company in a bid to make our lives greener. We chose to switch from British Gas to Good Energy via 38 Degrees Big Switch. We found it incredibly easy to do this, it seriously took no effort at all, and we saved alot of money this year in doing so.

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Stock image

Unfortunately, the fixed tariff has now ended and the one we are automatically transferred to is a much higher rate, so it is time to switch again! We were kept well informed of this though; 38 Degrees were very good at sending out emails to ensure customers were aware, and to offer a new deal with a different company (Bristol Energy). 

If you don’t review your energy provider regularly to ensure you are getting the best deal, for example at the end of a fixed rate period, I really recommend you do so. The amount you can save is significant! There are lots of energy companies to choose from (including several clean energy providers) so it is worth taking the time to shop around and compare the various deals on offer.

There are also various companies who are using people power too, by joining consumers together to get a better collective deal, much like the one we did. These really take the time and hassle out of it all, whilst getting great savings. Google to check the latest one, as they are usually limited numbers and set deadlines.

The other thing to consider is thinking ahead in order to save money. I would imagine that you are more likely to find deals on installation, or home heating oil if you use it, now during the summer months than later in the year for example. So a little bit of planning now could help make savings in winter.


*This is a collaborative post.

CakeToppers – Personalised Cakes: Review and Giveaway

I think Caketoppers read my mind; just when I was busy organising Squiggle’s party and thinking about her birthday cake, they dropped me an email asking if I would like to review their personalised photo cupcakes. Since it’s her birthday, they kindly agreed to send me cake toppers for her birthday party cake as well as two cupcakes to sample too, which I really appreciate!

Caketoppers is based in Farnham, Surrey and offers a selection of personalised photo cupcakes, celebration cakes and toppers. You can use photos, logos or even drawings to personalise your choice of cake, so it makes it really unique. I chose my Living Life Our Way logo for the cupcakes. For the birthday cake toppers, I designed a picture on a photo app using some of Squiggle’s own drawings.

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The cupcakes and toppers arrived promptly and were well packaged. I don’t like to create so much waste with plastic packaging personally, but it certainly meant that everything arrived very fresh and in perfect condition.

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So firstly, the cupcakes. They are absolutely delicious! I literally dreamt about these cakes (yeah, yeah, I know). They were really moist and fluffy; they honestly tasted like they had just that second been made (by someone with far superior baking skills that my own!) Gorgeous. I would tell you what the rest of the family thought of them, but they wouldn’t know… they were way too good to share! I sampled one vanilla sponge and one chocolate; both were to the same yummy standard. I personally liked the vanilla sponge best but that is just my personal preference – both really were delicious!

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The cupcake samples, like my example above, can be purchased for £5 including delivery. A set of 6 cupcakes are £12.99 plus postage. There are also various other options, so check out the website for details.

As for the cake toppers, Squiggle loved the fact that her party cake was so unique and personal, decorated with her very own drawings. It meant so much to her! The cake toppers are easy to use; they came with detailed instructions but basically you just peel the back off then use icing to stick them on. They are ideal if you plan on baking a homemade cake but want a special finishing touch to decorate it with. Cake toppers cost from £7.45 for a round, square or rectangle edible photo topper.

I ended up buying a supermarket ‘decorate your own’ celebration cake for the topper, which was a tiny bit too small so doesn’t really do the topper justice. However, that is entirely my own fault and not a reflection of Caketoppers whatsoever! Squiggle didn’t notice at all though – as I said, she was delighted with her special cake! We all were infact, love it.

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Caketoppers do also sell the right size cakes to match the cake toppers so you can decorate it yourself, if you fancy a semi DIY job. A round or medium square undecorated cake is £20 and large square (10 inch) is £26. (Plus delivery charges). I’ll admit I would have much rather ordered her party cake from them too, especially after tasting those amazing cupcakes, but this didn’t quite manage to happen – despite the fact that they do also have a super speedy next day delivery option. Mummy fail. Oops! (Long story that I won’t bore you with but absolutely nothing to do with the company!)

Alternatively, you can purchase photo cakes with your own design printed on them, so the same concept as the cupcakes, only bigger. This is an easy, convenient option; and is the one that I am more than likely to opt for next time! These cost from £32.50 plus P&P for a medium 8 inch cake.

All in all, I would definitely recommend Caketoppers, we are really impressed with them. It is a shame that the same can’t be said of my cake- making or organising skills! 😉

Last but certainly not least, Caketoppers have kindly offered up for grabs a set of 6 yummy cupcakes, with the design of the winner’s choice. So enter my giveaway below for a chance to try these for yourself!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Open to UK residents only. Ends 7th June 2017. Other T&Cs apply. 

*Disclosure: I was sent the cupcakes and toppers free for the purpose of review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

Is Your Garden Dog Friendly?

As you all know, we love being outdoors, including spending lots of time in our garden. We enjoy growing a good selection of plants, flowers and food each year. However, we also have various pets so need to be aware of what we are growing that they might try to eat! 

If you are a dog owner you might find this infographic by Rattan Direct useful. There were a few that I wasn’t aware of to be honest. It particularly caught my attention that daisies, which are of course such a common garden flower, can cause diarrhoea and vomiting. Hopefully most dog owners are already very aware of these poisonous plants, especially the deadly ones, but it is handy to have a visual reminder and this information could certainly be very helpful to new owners.

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www.rattandirect.co.uk

Both my brother and my dad have pet dogs, and we had a beautiful King Charles Spaniel called Cindy when I was growing up. I remember she would eat absolutely anything she could get her paws on! I think my dad’s dogs that he has now are pretty well trained in comparison, although they do seem to enjoy picking up the odd bit of litter off the street, and they chase all the leaves blowing around in autumn! But as far as I know, hopefully, they aren’t partial to munching on plants and flowers – especially not any on this list!

As I have mentioned in previous posts, Squiggle is a big fan of dogs, so she loves spending time with them. She did actually ask again recently if we could own a dog, more specifically a Dalmation. I honestly would love to, but unfortunately a dog is not an option for us at the moment. One day maybe though!

Anyway, I’ll leave you with these adorable photos of Squiggle with our family’s furbabies…

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What pets do you have? Tell me in comments!

*Disclosure: This is a sponsored post in collaboration with Rattan Direct.


Mental Health Awareness Week: Anxiety 

Last week was mental health awareness week. Whilst I have written about this subject before, including most recently for Time To Talk back in February, I actually find it a difficult subject to write about. Hence the late post about it, well at least in part anyway!

Here’s the thing, I wholeheartedly believe that people need to know that they are not alone when it comes to mental health issues. The stigma that exists really does need to be tackled; people need far more support and understanding… and far less judgement. I consider myself a mental health advocate infact. But when I post information or words of support, I purposely don’t share details of our personal story. I initially thought it was perhaps obvious why this might be but as time has gone on, I have discovered that sometimes the lack of openness about this subject is met with confusion, as I guess it does perhaps appear contradictory on the surface, and sometimes leads to (wrong) assumptions, occasionally even suspicion. So I thought it might be useful to blog about why I don’t blog about it! 

First and foremost – it comes down to RESPECT. It is not my story to tell. Squiggle has an anxiety disorder, I am open about that fact. But whilst as a family we welcome sharing our feelings, encourage openess, understand and support mental health issues – and we certainly do not in any way indicate that it is something to be embarassed of – we do also respect her feelings on the matter. We respect her RIGHTS to privacy and respect the things she has shared with us in CONFIDENCE. It is about TRUST

In short, it is her perogative to choose who she wants to share personal information with and how much to share. As far as I am concerned, this applies to anyone sharing personal information about themselves in any context, regardless of age or subject. 

(Of course there are rare occasions it has been necessary to discuss and I have done so, for example when speaking to professionals to seek help for her, but that is an exception). 

The other thing is that I want my blog to be somewhere that I would feel comfortable with her reading. Today, next month, in a year, in a decade, even in 20 or 30 years… if she ever came across anything that I have written I want her to feel safe and comfortable reading it. I don’t want it to trigger her anxiety, or cause her stress. Especially not when she works so hard to overcome it! If she ever chooses to use her experience to help others, that is her choice. But it is up to her. And it should never come at the expense of her own mental health. You know what they say, you have to fit your own gas mask before you can help others! 

Ultimately, everyone is different. Some people choose to write about really personal things and that is ok. But it is also ok not to as well. We should all just do what we feel is right for our situation. And whilst I know I don’t need to explain my actions or reasons, I have chosen to because I hope in doing so, it might help people understand a little more about it. 

On that note, what I would like to share with you all are a few useful resources that we have found really helpful…

Self-help books that are really useful for children with anxiety or OCD:

What To Do When Your Brain Gets Stuck ~ £12.50

What To Do When You Worry Too Much ~ £12.50

What To Do When You Grumble Too Much ~ £12.50

Self- help book for parents:

Helping Your Anxious Child: A Step By Step Guide For Parents ~ £15.24

Thrive App: 

Thrive ~ I already love this app, even though I have actually only just discovered it! It guides you through meditation, deep breathing, muscle relaxation and other useful strategies. Plus my particular favourite; creating a zen garden. It also has great additional features like mood tracker and support network. In my opinion it can be used by the whole family. The app has various cost options: £4.99 per month, £9.99 for 3 months unlimited use or £1.99 per month for one year subscription. 

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Lastly, here are some recent blog posts written about mental health: 

The Parent and Pupil Coach (great tips for helping children with anxiety)

Pink Pear Bear (letter to anxious child)

Someone’s Mum (about her own anxiety)

A Blonde and A Baby (describing her anxiety

Two Little Misters (how to help a friend with anxiety)

Emma Reed (ending the stigma of counselling)

Surviving Life’s Hurdles (on how getting outdoors helps)


*The books are affiliate links.