Eco Made Jeans: Review

As with the other areas of my life, I try to adopt an eco-friendly approach to clothing wherever possible. As I mentioned in a recent blog post, I need some new additions to my wardrobe (as much as I still love my oldest favourite jeans, I bought them in Las Vegas back before I was even a mum!) So I was very happy to receive an email asking me if I would like to review a pair of eco jeans from JD Williams

Eco Made Jeans: Review

About

Eco Made indigo slim fit jeans are available in sizes 10 – 32. They are made partly from COOLMAX® ECOMADE fibre, which is made from 97% recycled material such as bottles, so helps reduce the environmental impact of plastic and keeps it out of our oceans.  This innovative design keeps moisture away from the skin to help stay cool in summer (or at hot gigs!) so are perfect for all year round and a variety of occasions.

Price: £40 (RRP) Shop here.

EcoMade slim fit jeans

Review

These jeans feel quite stretchy and are very comfortable. The sizing is as expected and they fit well. Having worn them at two gigs already (and one venue was particularly warm!) the material does indeed seem to feel cool when needed but still as warm as any other jeans on a cold night.

EcoMade jeans dressed up with boots for gig

They can easily be teamed up with different tops and footwear to either dress them up, or opt for a more casual look. For example, I wore them with boots and a long sleeve top for the gigs, which worked well. The fit is flattering, yet relaxed and comfortable enough to dance around, or laze around, or go for a long walk! I love them and would definitely recommend!

Lazing on sofa in jeans

*Disclosure: I was sent these jeans to review from JD Williams All opinions are my own. 

Review: Trasparenze Leggings from UK Tights

I try not to buy new clothes too often, and I don’t have a massive wardrobe. However, I was in genuine need of a new outfit or two to wear on various nights out. I wanted something comfortable, that looked stylish, but also versatile. Luckily, I was contacted by UK tights and spotted the perfect item on their website, Poseidone leggings by Trasparenze, which they kindly sent me to review.

Review: Trasparenze Leggings from UK Tights

About

Trasparenze is an Italian company that specialises in hosiery in unique eye-catching designs. Poseidone leggings are soft and luxurious, with an opaque leg and pretty floral lace design. RRP £51.99. Purchase from UK tights here.

Review

The leggings arrived in an elegant cardboard box, which is well presented so would make a nice gift.

Trasparenze Leggings from UK Tights in box

As they are an Italian brand, I was advised to ignore what size I would normally be and actually check the sizing guide. I did so and went for medium (I am normally a size 10 – 12) which fit perfectly.

Whilst these leggings aren’t organic, which is my preference wherever possible, they are exceptionally good quality so will hopefully last much longer than a cheaper brand. I try to adopt a slow fashion approach that is kinder to our planet than fast fashion, so I generally make a point of only buying clothes that I know I will wear often, and/ or at least around 30 times. (Yes, I know that is alot!)

Therefore, it seems more logical to me to invest in more expensive items that will last the distance. With all that in mind, I think that these leggings are wonderfully versatile and of sufficient quality to be worth the price tag.

Review: Trasparenze Leggings from UK Tights

Summary

I love these leggings! They are expensive, but feel comfortable and look stylish. They are a unique elegant design that stands out and is different to usual, but can also be worn in a number of ways for different things. I would wear them on a proper night out with heels and a dressy top, or they can also be worn on a more casual night out – as pictured below – as well. I received quite a few compliments wearing them and was happy with my outfit choice!

Selfie of Living Life Our Way wearing leggings on a night out

 

* Disclosure: these leggings were sent to me for the purpose of review. All opinions are my own. 

Zero Waste Eco-Friendly Postpartum and Menstruation Wear by Modibodi

It has been a decade since Squiggle came into this world. However, I remember the early days after birth very well; even in the hazy midst of that exhausted but elated sleep deprived state, it is not something to forget!

The practical new mum challenges that I wasn’t quite prepared for were things such as leaky boobs! (Which will happen regardless of whether you actually breastfeed or not by the way!) I went through a tonne of nursing pads. I was aware there were washable options, but I was somewhat less environmentally minded back then and it just felt like too much of a task. But faffing with breast pads and nursing tops also became an issue for me, and caused me quite alot of stress in our early breastfeeding days. That is why I think Modibodi nursing tops are brilliant!

Modibodi Nursing Top – RRP £45

Modibodi breastfeeding singlet is cleverly designed to look and fit like a regular breastfeeding bra, but replaces the need for nursing pads. It is beaitifully soft thanks to the bamboo outer layer, and uses patented technology to ensure maximum comfort, hygiene and effectiveness. The Breastfeeding Singlet is available in sizes 10-18 and cups A-G.

Maternity breastfeeding singlet

(Note: This is not me and I am not pregnant!)

5% of each sale donated to PANDAS throughout October

Modibodi have teamed up with PANDAS Foundation, a post-natal depression charity, to raise awareness and support their work. Throughout October, Modibodi will donate 5% of sales of the breastfeeding singlet to PANDAS. I was lucky enough not to suffer with post-natal depression myself, but I certainly do not underestimate the importance of such charities and the vital work that they do in supporting new mums!

Modibodi wants to highlight the realities of post pregnancy bodies. In a recent survey, undertaken by the brand, over half (53%) of the women surveyed revealed that they weren’t happy with their bodies and felt pressure to lose the baby weight quickly. 6 out of 10 mums surveyed also felt that there wasn’t enough comfortable and accessible nursing bra options, which is where Modibodi steps in, by providing a comfortable eco-friendly solution to breastfeeding mums.

Modibodi want women to embrace their post pregnancy body with #lovemybabybodi, and is encouraging women all over to the UK to upload a picture of their post baby body along with the hashtag, in order promote wellbeing and confidence for all mothers.

I have also teamed up with Modibodi for one lucky reader to win one of these handy zero waste breastfeeding tops! Read down to the end of this post for further details and to enter.

Underwear

Modibodi also have a collection of underpants that cover all absorbencies and come in a range of styles. These are useful for both postpartum and monthly menstruation. I have mentioned before that I use period pants for a zero waste, eco-friendly period (along with a mooncup sometimes) so I was very happy to try out a pair of their pretty sensual bikini pants with heavy overnight absorbency.

Modibodi period pants menstruation underwear postpartum underpants

Review: Sensual hi-waist bikini pants (heavy/ overnight absorbency) RRP £23.50

I love these! They are super soft and comfortable, thanks to the organic bamboo material. They fit very well and look (in my opinion anyway!) ok too. I felt confident and secure wearing them, with no concerns even on heavier days. (They hold 15-20ml, which is the equivalent of 2 tampons and 3 teaspoons!) They also wash well. Out of the several brands of menstruation pants that I use, these are probably my overall favourites in fact! Shop here.

Sensual high-waist heavy overnight absorbency pants

Teen Range

I would also like to give a mention to their teen range of underwear. As a parent to an autistic daughter nearing the age of puberty, the subject has come up fairly often with other SEND parents about managing self-care when it comes to starting periods. I personally feel that period pants offer a good solution to this.

Of course, they are beneficial to any teenager just starting their periods! For this reason, Modibodi have their own teen range. They even have a handy guide to download too!

Swimwear 

Last but not least, Modibodi also do swimwear! I haven’t tried it myself but I still wanted to include it in this post because this is another thing that has come up many times before. It is certainly not cheap but may well be worth the investment if you are a regular swimmer who would like that extra boost of confidence and peace of mind! See the swimwear section for more information.

Giveaway!

For your chance to win a breastfeeding singlet, enter via rafflecopter below. Competition ends 4th November 2018.

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*I received items in exchange for review and giveaway. All thoughts and opinions are my own. 

The Importance of Playing Outside: Play More with Sudocrem (Giveaway)

My readers already know how much I value spending time outside; my blog features heavily on outdoors and nature. So I was somewhat surprised, and saddened to be honest, to read that new research reveals that 1 in 9 British children have not visited a beach, park or forest in a year, and on average a British child only spends 4 hours a week playing in the great outdoors.

Squiggle outdoors in nature in the rain

Many kids are so disconnected from nature that over half of those surveyed admitted that they had never climbed a tree, a staggering 89% didn’t know what a buttercup was and 77% couldn’t identify a sunflower. The survey, carried out by Sudocrem, also asked 200 children between the ages of 4 to 8 years old to identify some of the creepy crawlies in Britain. It revealed that 89% of children were unable to recognise a butterfly, 51% didn’t know what a bumblebee looks like and 29% didn’t realise that bees make honey. These results are truly shocking!

The Importance of Playing Outside: Play More with Sudocrem (Giveaway)

There are so many benefits to spending time outdoors in nature; both physical and mental. This is why Sudocrem set up the award-winning Play More campaign, an initiative designed to encourage parents and children to get back in touch with nature.

According to children’s TV presenter and Play More ambassador Chris Packham, parents should be encouraging their children to explore the natural environment around them. “I was very fortunate when I was a child because I was encouraged to interact with the outdoors – looking under rocks and searching under logs and hedges to find creepy crawlies. If you just open your eyes, you’ll see that there is an incredible natural world out there waiting to be discovered.”

Chris Packham holding a Play More box

Vote For Your Local Nursery

As part of the campaign, Sudocrem are offering nurseries around the UK the chance to win support for playground regeneration or a mural, which will be painted by award-winning artist, Joy Pirkle. They have so far helped hundreds of UK nurseries improve their outdoor area. If you think you know a nursery that deserves to win, you can nominate them on the ‘Play More’ section here.

*All nurseries must be based in the UK and nominations close on 31.08.2018. For full Terms and Conditions, please visit www.sudocrem.co.uk/social-hub

Giveaway!

I’m also working with Sudocrem on their Play More campaign, giving away an adventure kit worth £40, which has been carefully put together to encourage children to play outside. The kit includes:

– Play More t-shirt

– Play More sun hat

– Bug Pot

– Frisbee

– Butterfly Net

– Magnifying glass

– Trowel or fork

Contents of Play More giveaway kit as listed

To be in with a chance of winning this fab prize, simply enter my rafflecopter giveaway below. Open to UK residents only. Ends 05/08/18. Other T&Cs apply.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

*Disclosure: This post is written in collaboration with Sudocrem.

Meetchu Dating App: Review

Oooh, I have something a little different to write about today – and I admit to being quite excited about this! Having not used a dating app before, I have sometimes felt like I am somehow missing out on the fun! I have always been quite intrigued to know what they are really like. So when I was given the opportunity to review Meetchu – a cool new dating app with a twist – I found myself saying yes

Meetchu Dating App: Review. Couple holding hands walking down the street. Into the sunset.

About Meetchu

So as I mentioned above, meetchu has a twist – prospective love interests can actually ‘meet’ each other before they meet up, via video or voice calling directly through the app. This means that you can get to know someone abit better before deciding whether to meet in real life, and you never have to give out your phone number to anyone.

Meetchu app icon

Setting Up

Meetchu verifies who you are by connecting to Facebook. This provides an extra layer of security to avoid getting catfished, which is good. It is also really handy as you can then access your facebook photos to upload to your profile, which makes setting up quick and easy.

Meetchu dating app home screen

You can include photos and short 10 second videos on your profile, as well as some details about yourself and what you are looking for. There are various options to choose from under settings, which helps to narrow down your search so you are more likely to find your true match! For example, you can specify gender and age range. In the premium version you can also specify distance too.

Edit profile screenshot

Using Meetchu

The app is very easy to use; simply heart or swipe right if you’re interested, of click the x or swipe left if not. Matches are then found at the bottom section of the screen. Aside from their photos/ video clips, it also tells you age and distance. I would possibly like a little further info before chatting ideally, but on the otherhand it does help to keep too many personal details away from strangers, which helps me feel more secure.

If you are a match (i.e. you both swipe right or heart) then you can video chat or call each other through the app. I really like this because it means you definitely know who are meeting – no catfishing! It makes the idea of online dating somewhat safer. (Although you still need to take sensible precautions when meeting someone for the first time, of course!)

Another security feature that I really like is that you can delete your messages from the other person’s phone at any time. I think this is a really good idea!

Meetchu app in use. Swipe left or right.

Overall

I love the attention to security and ‘meet before you meet’ concept. Who knows if you might find your true love on this app; either way, you’ll have fun trying!

Join for free!

Download the app using my code to receive a one month’s free premium membership!

This gives you unlimited voice and video calling, as well as unlocking all the emojis. Premium membership also allows users to refine search location. Last but not least, it means you can jump the queue and be seen first in match searches! Premium membership costs from £4.99 per month.

Happy couple

Have you ever tried Meetchu? What did you think? Let me know in the comments!

*Disclosure: I was given free download for the purpose of this review and was compensated for my time. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

Grofresh Kitchen Garden: Review and Giveaway

Grofresh kitchen garden is a brilliant way to grow herbs, plants and flowers indoors, with no mess and no fuss! It uses a clever patented celpod method of growing. This allows you to grow most plants quickly and easily, and is eco-friendly too. It is perfect for people who don’t have a garden, or who just want to grow extra food in their kitchen. It is fully automated and keeps the environment under optimal conditions, so you don’t need to be green fingered to gain a successful crop; in fact, it literally couldn’t be easier to grow your own food!

We were kindly sent a Grofresh kitchen garden to review…

Setting up

The Grofresh kitchen garden is extremely easy to set up as it comes pre-assembled except for the biolite, which easily slots into the base. You then simply add the nutrient solution, prepare the hydrocels, plant the seeds or plugs in the biocel, then turn it on.

Grofresh microgrower kitchen garden

Step by step;

Mix the nutrient solution provided with 1.3L of clean water and pour it into the base by removing the water filler cap, then replace the cap. Do not overfill. Make sure the growtop is on the growtank before filling. The essential nutrients are mixed with the water and delivered directly to the plants root system several times a day.

Prepare the hydrocels by soaking them in water until they are soft then squeeze out excess water. Slot them back into the celpod, securing them with the feet.

To plant the seeds just slice through the top of the hydrocel and put the seeds in about 1cm from the top, then place it in the biocel. Plugs are similar; just slice right through the middle of the hydrocel instead. See the instruction manual for more details on planting.

Functions

The microgrower has three watering settings (low, medium and high) and you can change between them using just one button. It uses flashing lights to indicate which setting has been selected. Check the seed packet to determine the correct level needed. I would also recommend planting either the same plants, or ones with similar watering requirements.

A single red light will flash every 30 seconds to indicate the water is low and requires refilling. The rest of the time it flashes green every 30 seconds to indicate it is working correctly. So this is a pretty fool- proof system!

The bioight will automatically switch on for 16 hours then off for 8 hours. The timing can be adjusted by using pressing a button on the base. If you turn it off, it will remain off for 8 hours then automatically turn on for 16 hours, back off for 8 hours and so on. If you turn it on, it will stay on for 16 hours, then off for 8 hours. You get the idea! It is all automatic, so no need to do anything.

Grofresh kitchen garden

Other Information

Grofresh kitchen garden comes in a range of colours, so you can match your kitchen decor.

You can grow most things that grow above ground (not below ground).

The hydrocels only last for one growing cycle but you can purchase more from the website. Replacement hydrocels cost £9.95.

Grofresh kitchen garden RRP: £59.95.

Purchase at wizal.co.uk

Grofresh advert

Our Verdict

The Grofresh kitchen garden is so very straightforward to set up and use, it takes up hardly any space in the kitchen, and after just a few days shoots are already appearing – so it is clearly a very effective system! We love it!

Shoots growing in Grofresh kitchen garden after just a few days.

Discount

Enter code WZLKG3 at checkout to receive £10.00 off all Grofresh kitchen garden orders! Valid until end of June 2018 only.

Grofresh kitchen gardens discount code

Giveaway Time!!!!

To be in with a chance to win your own Grofresh kitchen garden, enter my giveaway via rafflecopter below! Ends 22nd July 2018. UK residents only. T&Cs apply.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Good luck!

*Disclosure: I was sent the Grofresh kitchen garden for the purpose of review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

Trint Transcription Software: Review

Trint is a clever piece of software that transcribes any video and audio files into text. It was founded by Jeff Kofman, a former war correspondent for CNN. Jeff had to manually transcribe thousands of interviews throughout his career, so he decided to develop Trint, to save people the hours of time and effort it takes to transcribe manually.

Trint is useful for a range of purposes, such as journalists and broadcasters, podcasters and content creators, or for students transcribing lectures. It’s also helpful for those who cannot write or type often, which makes it an excellent tool for those with SEND or accessibility needs.

How it works

Here is a short video explaining how Trint works…

Prices

Trint has various pricing options. You can pay as you go at £13.20 per hour. Or you can subscribe to either the basic package for 3 hours per month at £36 or the supercharged package at £100 for 100 hours. For both subscriptions, unused minutes can be carried over for up to 60 days. You can cancel anytime.

Trint’s video to text transcription software is also available via Adobe Premiere Pro, thanks to the newly added plug-in.

A review of trint subscription software text. Background image in grey of laptop, notebook and pen.

My Review

I tried Trint on my android, but the website is so easy to navigate anyway that it probably wouldn’t make difference what device you use, which is useful. As I mentioned above, it can also be used directly on Adobe too. I didn’t test this out personally but I imagine it is very useful!

The software couldn’t be simpler to use; you literally just select the video clip or audio you want to transcribe and click the button. You can also create folders for the files so everything is nice and organised.

Screenshot on my Trint folders.

Trint takes roughly the same length of time as the video clip itself. That is speedy transcribing! It did seem to glitch slightly when I tried to select multiple videos, and a couple of times it got stuck when I was trying to open the transcribed files. However, admittedly I tend to multi-task so that was likely more a reflection on my phone’s capabilities, and my impatience, than this software! Aside from that, the process of transcribing it was incredibly easy.

Trint screenshot of the actual transcription.

In terms of accuracy, overall it did very well in the right situations. It clearly struggled with Squiggle’s voice generally, although it fared somewhat better with her in a Q&A style video with myself. It does suggest that ideally the speaker should be close to the camera and to speak in a clear voice without background noise, so that might also have improved the outcomes.

Of course, the vast majority of users would be adults anyway though, so let’s find out how well it did with me…

As you can see it is very accurate with only a couple of minor errors. I also asked Squiggle’s dad if he would possibly mind testing it on a longer video presentation that he did for work and it was almost perfect, aside from some missed punctuation, which he said would have just been down to his presentation style. So he was very impressed!

Overall, Trint is very useful if used in the right contexts (i.e. in situations where the speaker on the recording is very loud and clear, with an adult pitch voice, without too much background intereference). It could certainly save time, effort and money in transcriptions – it is much easier than doing it yourself manually, and far cheaper than hiring someone else to do it!

Find out more about Trint on their website: trint.com

*Disclosure: I was given free minutes for the purpose of review and compensated for my time. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

Rockford’s Rock Opera Review & Giveaway Bundle

Rockford’s Rock Opera by Sweetapple is an ecological musical story about extinction, biodiversity, the value of the natural world and bringing endangered species back from the brink. It was created by a group of friends (Matthew Sweetapple and Elaine Sweetapple, husband and wife, and comedian Steve Punt) in an attic in Barnet, Hertfordshire and was first launched on the web in 2008. Rockford’s Rock Opera is enjoyed in 100,000 schools all over the world. This year it is celebrating it’s 10th anniversary and is now in the process of being turned into a feature animated film! With a production budget of $38,000,000 it will be one of the UK’s
biggest-ever independent films.

Rockford's Rock Opera

The story is unique in it’s format and delivery; combining pictures, animation, songs and dialogue. It is a truly touching story with an important ecological message. In essence, it is a musical story about a boy from Battersea called Moog and his Dog, Rockford. The underlying message is that one day we’ll discover the greatest secret of all; how every species on earth can live together in harmony. The creators, who describe it as Jungle Book meets Jurassic Park, suggest it is aimed primarily at ages 6-12 years old.

I downloaded all four of the parts on my iPhone from the App store (part 1 is free, parts 2, 3 and 4 cost £1.99 each). Each app contains extras as well as the story itself; including the music, story background and useful learning material (did you know that 99.9% of all creatures that have ever lived may now be extinct?!) as well as links to environmental organizations and charities.

Rockford's Rock Opera app

The story itself is a good combination of stills and CGI (some quite psychedelic; it took me back to the Beatles yellow submarine), supported by clear narration and varied styled music – some with singalong lyrics (one of my favorite touches). Not wishing to give too much of a spoiler, the story centers around Moog and his rescue dog Rockford from Battersea Dogs’ Home, who find themselves travelling across the sea of tranquility to an island called Infinity; home to the last creature of all extinct species. Here they encounter many fictional creatures, including a small yellow sticky creature with a green stripe called a Cocklebur Ink, a ten tentacle octopus called a Dectopus and a menacing guitar playing mantis called The Registrar, to name just a few. Moog and Rockford must race to the centre of the island against the backward flowing river to stop the extinction of all dogs and humans on earth. But, given humans were the cause of many of the islands creatures’ extinctions, not everyone wants them to succeed.

Rockford's Rock Opera Island of Infinity

All four parts run to 2.5 hours in total but is divided into chapters, making it perfect for bedtimes or car journeys. It has no in app purchasing and does not require an internet connection, so it’s 100% safe for children to use unassisted.

I have to say I fell in love with this story. It really tugs on the heartstrings and inspires empathy in such an original way. It gets the message across very clearly, and is hard hitting, yet also simultaneously approaches it in a sensitive and tactful way; it is a delicate balance that has been achieved remarkably well.

The songs range from slow, emotional songs such as ‘This Tail is True’ to really rocky tunes like ‘I Am The Registrar’. My absolute favourite though, is the incredibly catchy ‘Tale of The Cocklebur Ick’. This one has literally not left my head! I think not least of all because it carries such a strong message and is so thought- provoking. That tale in itself can lead to many hours of valuable discussion; indeed there are entire lesson plans on the website to cover just that part of the story.

The website is filled with tonnes of useful information, from detailed lesson plans to practical ideas on how to protect our environment. It also has loads of other cool fun stuff too, so do check it out! RockfordsRockOpera.com

Giveaway!

I have an awesome Rockford’s Rock Opera giveaway bundle for one reader to win! Enter via rafflecopter below. UK only. Competition ends on 8th July 2018.

Rockford's Rock Opera giveaway bundle

Good Luck!

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*I was given free access to the apps for the purpose of review and was compensated for my time. All thoughts and opinions are my own. 

Forest Holidays: Our Winter Retreat to Forest of Dean

Back in January we decided to book a last second escape to the Forest of Dean for a winter retreat at Forest Holidays. This was our first time visiting but it came recommended from friends who have stayed at a different location on one of their other sites. Squiggle’s anxiety was high, so we figured some extra time relaxing outdoors might be just what we all needed. It didn’t work miracles in that regard (but then again, I am pretty sure they don’t claim to either though!) but it was still a lovely holiday! Here is our review…

Title written on image of Forest Holidays cabin.

The Cabin

There are three main styles of cabin; golden oak, silver birch and copper beech. The main differences between them are that silver birch has a hot tub, and golden oak has both a log burner and a hot tub. We intentionally wanted to avoid having a log burner for personal reasons, and silver birch was fully booked, so that made it pretty easy to choose!

Despite copper beech being their cheapest (and most basic) option, we were absolutely amazed by the size of the cabin! The whole place had a wonderful air of luxury about it, whilst also feeling very homely. I loved how beautifully in keeping the decor is; very natural. I was very impressed! And everything is eco- friendly wherever possible too, which we were really glad to see.

Eco friendy kitchen kit

I was quite worried that it might be chilly in winter but the underfloor heating took care of that! If anything, it was actually abit too warm when we arrived but the thermastat was easy to use and had separate settings for each room too, so that was soon remedied. I don’t know how hot the cabins might get in a heatwave with all that glass though! But given that they seem very well designed overall, I am assuming there are measures in place to maintain optimum temperatures. We were certainly able to do that during our winter stay anyway, despite having both sunny days and snow in the time we were there! They are really cosy and it is easy to feel right at home there.

Here is my video tour of the cabin…

The Setting

The cabin we had was in the meadow so it was very open, whereas some of them are tucked away amongst the trees. Honestly, in my opinion, regardless of where your cabin is situated, you can’t go wrong.

Our view from the cabin. A meadow with cabins spread out.

The site is in a beautiful location, in the Forest of Dean, with stunning scenic walks all around. Regardless of the time of year we visited, even in Winter, we couldn’t fail to be in awe of the forest setting. Here are just a few of my pictures taken, the first onsite and the others literally a few moments walk off the main site…

Stunning forest setting of the Forest Holidays site.

Beautiful views at the Forest of Dean

Winter scenes at Forest of Dean

Forest of Dean

By the way, the sheer drop on the above photos is less breathtaking and more heartstopping when your autistic child suddenly bolts!!!! Especially if you happen to suffer from vertigo as well, like I do! So I recommend if you explore this area with a young child, or one with SEND, that you not only have nerves of steel, but a very tight grip of their hand!

We don’t have a dog personally, but the site is very dog- friendly and it would be the ideal holiday to take a dog if you are an owner. This is probably also worth noting though if you are nervous around dogs though I guess! Squiggle loved seeing all the dogs about going for walks, she was delighted!

Facilities

Forest Retreat

The Forest Retreat is the main hub where you check in and book activities, and is home to the shop and restaurant. It also has pottery activities for children.

The shop sells a lovely range of gifts, books and activities that are carefully chosen to be perfectly on theme for the nature of the holiday. It also sells a wonderful selection of food and drink; including an extensive range of cider, wine and beer, fresh produce and a range of Cook meals for easy self- catering dining options.

Forest Retreat photo strip showing selection in store.

Food

The menu has plenty to choose from, to either eat in the restaurant or take away. The food was consistently good and service was prompt.

Bike Hire

Bike hire is available onsite from £28 per break per adult or from £25 per child. It is recommended you book these in advance. We didn’t hire bikes on this occasion but Squiggle did ask about it (towards the end of the holiday!) so we would definitely consider it next time.

Cycle Hire building from the outside.

Play Area

The play area was sectioned off during our visit as they were carrying out work on it. It looked more suitable for younger children, but Squiggle would have had a quick go if it were available no doubt!

Bug Hotel

Granted not really one of the facilities per se (at least not for humans!) but I wanted to mention the bug hotel anyway. We have seen these in many places but this one is particularly well made!

Large bug hotel with information sign. Squiggle is stood next to it.

Activities

There are a range of forest ranger led activities available for various ages. Some are shorter at 90 minutes in duration, whilst one survival course is half a day. As well as daytime activities, there is also a night-time ranger adventure so you can spy on the nocturnal forest inhabitants after dark! Dogs are allowed on some of the activities but not all courses, and some have a minimum age for children, so do check details before booking. There are also a selection of activities off- site that can be booked through Forest Holidays as well.

Squiggle on the winter trail.

Squiggle wasn’t up for any of these due to her anxiety, so we opted to do their self- guided seasonal trail instead. This cost £6.95 and she got a prize at the end for completing it. This was a really engaging activity. She started off reluctant to join in but as soon as we got to the first few stops and solved the clues she was hooked! We really enjoyed it and it was definitely one of the highlights of our holiday.

Seasonal trail clue

Local Places To Visit

There are numerous walks nearby surrounded by beauty and tranquility. Aside from that, there are several local places to visit that might be of interest. Forest Holidays have some suggestions of what’s nearby. I would really love to visit Clearwell Caves and also Puzzlewood sometime in future.

We did go to Beechenhurst, mainly to go on the sculpture trail. However, Squiggle was very near tired and nearing meltdown, so we didn’t actually find any sculptures and ended up just having a quick wander instead. I would love to return when it is better timing for her though; it looked like a lovely place to spend a day and I really want to see the sculptures – from the photos they look brilliant!

One thing I will remember from our trip though was that, as we drove up into the carpark, something moving in the forest caught my eye. As I turned to look I thought at first it was dozens of rabbits scurrying into the bushes. But then I realised, whatever they were, they weren’t hopping – they were running. It was a huge group of baby wild boar!

Now I know they are very common to the area and especially at that time of year, but I had never actually seen any before. I was so excited! They were gone in a flash; no time to grab a camera or even point them out to Squiggle, but that was a personal highlight that I will always remember.

We also visited Symonds Yat briefly, on the bank of River Wye. I took a few photos, but I could have taken many more of these stunning scenic views…

River Wye

Stunning scenic view of river Wye

Symonds Yat

In Summary

We really enjoyed our stay at Forest Holidays and loved exploring Forest of Dean. We are very keen to return here sometime in the future, and also would like to try other Forest Holidays locations too. We would definitely recommend it – at any time of year!

Last but not least…

Here is a video clip I put together summarising the highlights of our holiday:

*Disclosure: I was given a discount when booking this holiday in exchange for a review post. However, as always, I have expressed my honest opinion and all thoughts are my own.

Bumper Birthday Gift Guide: Present Ideas For Adults

This bumper birthday gift guide for adults features present ideas for men and women from brands such as CanvasChamp, Adagio Teas, GiftsOnline4U, Latest Deals, Hunkemoller and more…

Do you get stuck on what to buy for birthdays? Whether it is your partner, a relative, friend or even a colleague, my bumper gift guide will inspire you to find the perfect gift…

Bumper Birthday Gift Guide: Present Ideas For Adults

Engraved Watch – GiftsOnline4U

Any watch makes a lovely gift, but a personalised watch is even better! GiftsOnline4U have an excellent selection of engraved watches to choose from to design a unique gift for someone. I was gifted this gorgeous ladies watch to review from them…

Giftsonline4u engraved ladies watch flatlay image.

The website itself is easy to navigate, with clear instructions at checkout. Personalising the watch was also very straightforward. You can enter up to 72 characters over 4 lines for the message, which is plenty of space. You can then preview the engraved before ordering. Gift bags and greetings cards can also be selected.

I had my watch engraved with an Albert Einstein quote “Time is just an illusion.” Just a note, the back of the watch is actually silver, it is just the reflection of the camera making it look black. It isn’t the easiest thing to photograph (or I need to improve my photography skills… take your pick!) but in real life the engraving is clear and beautifully written.

Delivery was efficient and there are various delivery options available. Standard delivery is free, charges apply to speedier services. The watch arrived nicely presented in a gift box.

This contemporary style watch is plated alloy with a leather strap and retails at £39.99. GiftsOnline4U also do a range of other personalised Birthday gifts on their website too.

Ladies watch from GiftsOnline4U in box

Canvas Print – CanvasChamp

A canvas print can brighten up any wall and makes a wonderful gift! It is a very thoughtful present, especially if you choose a meaningful photo with the recipient firmly in mind; such as a photo of their loved ones, their favourite place or a picture that captures a happy memory of theirs. If you are familiar with their home, try to consider their colour schemes too, to really make sure you pick out the perfect photo to use.

Canvas on wall. Matches colour scheme. A well coordinated cat is sat on the sofa too, also matching the canvas art!

CanvasChamp specialises in canvas wall pictures and other types of print. Prices start very low (from £3.89) and they offer a wide range of sizes. There are also different options for finishes, and various styles too. For example, you can select from a variety of choices of wrap and border, so you can customise it exactly how you like. I uploaded a photo straight from my instagram and the quality was fine for a fairly small canvas, but if you are going to opt for a larger size then I would recommend using a higher resolution image.

Canvas hanging on wall. Wrap sides

For something even more unique, CanvasChamp offers split picture prints (i.e. the picture goes across two or more canvas), collages, mosaics and wall display sets. As you can see from my photos, the single 12 x 8 canvas looks abit ‘lost’ on such a large bare wall space at the moment, but it will look brilliant as part of a larger wall display!

As an alternative to canvas, you could also opt for acrylic or metal prints. So plenty of ideas to choose from!

Delivery takes up to 8 – 10 business days according to the website, although mine arrived much quicker than this. Shipping is free on orders over £40 and costs £4.99 for orders under that value.

(I was sent a 12 x 8 canvas for review).

CanvasChamp canvas wall hanging art. Picture of Southend beach, Essex. Photography of sea by Living Life Our Way.

Adagio Teas

For tea lovers, Adagio Teas might be just what you are looking for! They have an excellent selection of tasty teas that make a cool gift for any avid tea drinker in your life. There is a wide range of loose tea flavours, as well as tea bags and iced teas too. They also stock high quality accessories and some funky gift sets too. For something even more quirky, check out their awesome signature blends.

A photo of Adagio Teas and accessories

We were kindly sent a variety of teas to try from Adagio; in fact they were incredibly generous and sent us a massive box filled with goodies! If I waited until we had sampled them all before writing this post, it probably wouldn’t be published until 2020! However, what I will tell you is that the selection looks amazing and I literally cannot wait to try them all out.

Bundle of Adagio loose teas, tea bags, ice teas and accessories inc ingenuitea, glass mug and infuser, tea filters

Some of the loose leaf teas we have been sent to try out include calypso green, citrus mint green and raspberry green from their green tea range, spiced apple chai tea, earl grey moonlight black tea, peach oolong, green rooibos bonita, pu-erh hazelberry, hibiscus, coconut, passionfruit and mango flavoured teas, plus berry blues and samurai mate from the herbal tea range. This is just some of the many choices they have available. I am so excited about the pina colada! I am also particularly looking forward to the fruit medley herbal tea and intrigued by the chocolate chip flavour too.

The website has lots of useful information about tea preparations, pairings and health benefits. You can also learn more about the origins of the different types of tea; it is really quite educational!

A selection of Adagio Teas and accessories

I was also sent some very cool accessories too, which are very cleverly designed to make life much easier when preparing loose teas. The ingenuitea teapot has a special valve in the bottom that releases the tea directly into the cup, leaving the tea leaves in the mesh filter. The teapot is easy to clean; just rinse it out with water or pop it into the dishwasher. This retails at £18.

They also sent some paper filters, which are made of taste- neutral wood and hemp fibres, so are fully biodegradeable. You just fold them over the edge of your teapot or mug, then throw them away. So simple! And very good value at £4 for 100 filters.

Then there is the glass mug and infuser, which is handy for use anywhere. RRP £18. As the website explains:

“An ideal ‘have tea anywhere’ set that combines a glass tea mug with a removable stainless steel infuser. In addition to being convenient, it is also loads of fun: watch the leaves dance as they infuse a perfect cup of tea. When done, remove the infuser (the cover doubles as a coaster) and have a perfect cup of tea wherever, and whenever, the mood strikes. Perfect for home or office use.”

Brummie Gal in Cardiff has some useful video clips and tutorials of these fab accessories in action.

Adagio Teas Prize - ingenuitea, glass mug and infuser, tea samplea

I have also teamed up with Adagio to offer a lucky reader a chance to win a bundle of Adagio teas and accessories. The fabulous prize includes an IngenuiTEA teapot, glass mug and infuser, plus 15 sample pouches (which makes up to roughly 150 cups of tea!) To be in with a chance of winning, enter via rafflecopter below.

Competition ends on 10th June 2018. Open to UK residents only. Other T&Cs apply. Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Jewellery – BlueNile

For people who love bling-bling, a pair of diamond studs would be ideal. Blue Nile offers a range of affordable choices to choose from. Prices start from £162 and there are more than 50 designs available. And if you need some help with choosing a pair, this guide here has some useful tips you can refer to.

Underwear – Hunkemoller

This one is just for the ladies! Whilst some people may feel uncomfortable gifting underwear, as a female I think a bra or matching set makes a lovely gift to either give or receive from a close friend or partner. (As long as they know your size!) Hunkemoller have a beautiful selection of pretty designs that come in a good range of sizes, including for fuller figures. Prices start from £12, with free shipping on orders over £20.

I really love the non- padded underwired full cup black bra I was sent to review. It is very comfortable and it looks so pretty on that I almost shared a photo of me actually wearing it. (I said almost…) It is gorgeous and makes an ideal gift. The box is lovely too! (And it is recycled!)

Hunkemoller underwired non padded black bra flatlay. Pretty box next to it says life is about pretty moments, enjoy this one. Love, hunkemoller

Find Inspiration… Plus Save Money Too!

Searching for gift sets on Latest Deals is a fantastic way of saving money, but also a great place to get inspiration too. As I browsed through the current offers listed, I spotted some really awesome ideas that I might not have thought of otherwise, such as a ‘grow your own superfoods kit’ for example. You might also come across lovely new brands that you haven’t heard of before too. The perfect site to find some fresh new gift ideas and get yourself a good deal in the process!

Screenshot of grow your own superfoods gift idea from Latest Deals website

Subscription Boxes – Various

Organising a subscription box as a present is almost like a gift that keeps on giving! Whether you go for 3, 6 or 12 months, the recepient will enjoy getting their monthly box of goodies. Many offer one- off boxes too if that is kinder on your budget. There are plenty of topics on offer to choose from; such as mindfulness, eco friendly, art, healthy snacks, yummy treats or gardening activities, just to name a few, so easy to pick out one you know they will love.

Experience Days/ Event Tickets

Not every gift has to be tangible. Days out, experiences or event tickets make an amazing present too. Whether it is a relaxing spa day, the chance to zoom around a race track, or a fun night out seeing their fave band, tickets/ vouchers to go somewhere or do something is a brilliant birthday surprise!

Other Gift Ideas

For more ideas, you can also check out some of my previous gift guides full of wonderful gifts:

Mothers Day Gifts

Men’s Gifts Under £20

Eco- Friendly Gifts

Gifts for Health and Wellbeing

Unique Personalised Gifts

*Disclosure: I was gifted items for the purpose of review and also compensated for my time. All thoughts and opinions are of course my own.