Author

I’m a part-time writer, full-time mother and dog-walker living in a small English village by the sea with my husband, daughter and a dog named Doc.

All posts by Dean B

The Perfect Keepsake: A Martha Jackson Locket (A Review)

There’s something really sweet and romantic about lockets.  I think it’s because they have been romanticized in stories, books and in the movies.  Whether it’s a period or a romantic movie, chances are, the heroine will have a locket around her neck with the photo of her beloved in it.  Or perhaps, of a mother, who has lost a child and forever wears her locket with a photo of her little one, close to her heart.  Or this:

She saw that it was the work of a skilled artisan and that the diamonds were of great brilliancy and superbly set, but the cutting of them denoted that they were of a former day. She noticed too that the locket opened, and, pressing the hidden clasp, she saw the two halves spring apart to reveal in either section an ivory miniature.” 

  • Edgard Rice Burroughs, Tarzan of the Apes

When Martha Jackson got in touch and asked if I wanted to do a review of one of their lockets, I quickly said yes.  At the back of my head, I thought of T of course.  I knew that when she’s old enough, she will love to have a locket to forever cherish.

They have a number of beautiful lockets to choose from, but I chose the Silver Double Oval locket.  I thought it would be handy to have two compartments.  Although admittedly, I haven’t found a photo of little T, small enough to fit in there.  But I’m sure I’ll eventually find something or perhaps, I’ll have to print a specific photo for this beautiful keepsake.

Above is a photo of the first compartment.

The second compartment is bigger than the first.

Martha Jackson’s lockets can also be personalised.  I asked that the words “Carpe Diem” to be engraved behind the locket.  This is something we like to remind T about to.  To always seize the day, no matter what her fears are or the circumstances she’s in – grab life by the throat and experience everything life has to offer.  After all, as parents, isn’t this what we wish for our children?

As you’ve probably noticed, there’s also a small letter “T” and a little pearl charm along with the locket.  You can order these add-ons.  It can be an initial like the “letter T”, a lovely pearl, or even a little key.  I just love these little add-on details, it just makes the locket even more special and unique to the wearer.

What I love about the Silver Double Oval Locket:

  • As mentioned, it has two compartments.  One small one in front and another bigger one at the back.
  • I love that you can personalise all the Martha Jackson’s lockets.  For me, it’s the perfect gift for daughters when they are old enough to cherish it..  You can also choose your own font, whether you want a simple font or an elaborate one.
  • Again, I love that you can choose some add-ons, whether it’s an initial or a charm like a pearl or a key.  You can also choose whether you want the add-ons in silver or gold.
  • I love that you can choose the length of the necklace.  When ordering, you can choose a short one (35-40 cm), or a long one like mine (76 cm, extra long belcher chain.)
  • And most of all, I love that the price is affordable.  It won’t cost you an arm and a leg to have something as beautiful and unique as this one.  This particular locket starts at £45.   Of course, the add-on charms and the length of the locket will also determine the cost in the end.  For someone special in your life, it’s definitely worth the spend.

What I don’t like about it:

  • This isn’t major.  But I wasn’t too impressed with the packaging.  It came in an ordinary small white box.  I think something as pretty and as dainty as this deserves better packaging.

I’ve shown little T the locket and she absolutely loves it.  I’ve told her that when she’s older, she can have it.  She keeps asking me “But when will that be mum”?  I told her that she’ll have it when she’s responsible enough not to lose it.

Christmas is just around the corner.  If you’re looking for a special and unique present for the woman in your life, whether it’s your wife, partner, girlfriend or daughter, I think this forever keepsake is the one for them.

What about you?

Do you like lockets too?

*I received this lovely locket from Martha Jakson for the purpose of this review but all photos and opinions are by yours truly.  

That “Christmas Vibe”

Not me.  But it’s only early November, my husband says.  I know, I reply.  But that’s not like me at all.  Normally I’m feeling it as soon as the last week of October ends and I’m itching to put up my Christmas lights and other decorations as early as I can get away without the husband grumbling “But it’s too early woman!”  I guess it also has a lot to do with where I come from, Christmas starts really early.  In fact, my mum has her tree up already.  She sent me photo of it a few days ago.  It was lovely, but I’m just feeling it yet.

Normally, I’d be hunting for Christmas presents this early, taking note of all the sales, so I can grab a few bargains. And secretly making a Christmas wish-list in my head at least.  I’d be looking forward to all our little family tradition like going to the Christmas tree farm and picking that one special tree to come home with us.  But nope, not this year.  Not feeling it at all.  “But it’s only November” I hear you say.  But if you knew me, you would know that I love everything about Christmas, especially Christmas decorations.

Even T doesn’t seem bothered at all.  Normally, she’d be thinking about what to put on her Christmas wish list or her letter to Father Christmas.  But every time I ask her what she wants for Christmas she’ll reply with an “I don’t know mum”  

Oh dear, this is really serious.  What is happening to me?  Am I changing?  Am I suddenly going to be anti-Christmas?  The husband says he’ll be getting our Christmas decorations from the shed soon.  Let’s see if that will help.  Maybe seeing all our lovely decorations will help me get into the mood.   Now excuse me while I play some Christmas songs, hopefully that will switch the Christmas vibe on.

What about you?

When do you start feeling that Christmas vibe?

A Special Gift from … Prestige Christmas Hampers

*Sponsored post, Prestige Hampers.

Can you believe it’s only 49 days till Christmas?  Have you started your Christmas shopping yet or at least, started your long list of Christmas presents to give?  Here’s an idea.

I don’t know about you, but my husband and I love Christmas hampers.  We love receiving them and giving them as presents for Christmas, especially for people who love food and drink.   I guess one of the reasons why we love them is the variety of what you’re getting.  It’s like a smorgasbord of all the wonderful treats one usually serves on Christmas day.  Now who wouldn’t want that?  And to top it off, they are packed in one lovely hamper, perfect for those picnics we also love doing, preferably in much warmer days.

Prestige Hampers have a variety of hampers, depending on what items you prefer.  Are you a chocolate lover, prefer cheese, mostly wine, with some lovely cold meat, or whether you have a budget of £20 less or £500 more, there is one hamper for you.

As for us, my husband and I were like a couple of kids on Christmas day, as we opened our special Christmas hamper, taking turns with “oooohing and ahhing” as we looked at our each treat from our Prestige Christmas hamper.

Our Christmas Hamper had the following goodies:

1 bottle of Shiraz, 1 bottle of Chardonnay, 1 delicious fruit cake, a box of Pralines chocolate, shortbread from Walkers, one bar of dark chocolate from Beech’s, Yorkshire Crisps, tea from English Breakfast, one small classic Christmas pudding from Walker, handmade smoked oatcakes from Reid, Red Velvet Crunch bitter Biscuits from Farmhouse biscuits. 1 small jar of Christmas Preserve with mulled wine from Mackays and a small jar of Mackays Christmas marmalade with cranberries, packaged in one lovely hamper.

What we think of Prestige Christmas Hampers:

We genuinely loved it.  As mentioned, my husband and I had fun opening it and discovering the contents of the hamper.  If you’re thinking of a buying a present for someone special in your life who happens to love food like we do. Then look no more, choose a prestige hamper for them.  They’ll love it as much as we loved ours.

If you’re curious about what they really look like and how big the items are, have a little look at the short video below and see for yourselves.

What about you?

Would you like to receive a Christmas hamper from Prestige on Christmas?

*We were sent the Christmas Prestige hamper for the purpose of this review, but all photos and opinions are by yours truly.

One Crisp Autumn Day

Our life here in the country is really simple.  We don’t really go out much, especially when the husband is busy with his work.  Apart from the hike over at Rough Tor, we didn’t really do a lot over the half-term break.  Luckily, we have a big garden and when the weather was good over the holiday, T and I were out there, raking-leaves.  She’s such a good little helper. She likes doing chores with me.

We actually like staying home.  Of course, you’ll hear “I’m bored” or “There’s nothing for me to do” occasionally especially when the weather is bad.  But I guess like all solo kids, she eventually finds something to do and when the weather is good, as mentioned, we are out in the garden pottering around.

Last year, we bought her, her own little rake and garden gloves.  That’s one of the reasons why she loves helping because she has her own tools.  It makes her feel more “grown-up” I guess.

We have a lot of trees out there, so we constantly have to rake the leaves, if not, there’ll be a blanket of mucky-brown leaves on the lawn before you know it.  During school days, I consider this my autumn exercise, raking and wheeling my pile of leaves down the garden.  But when T is home, it’s a mother and daughter team.

T also likes to clear her trampoline off the leaves.

My little gardener.  Watch her go.

We have a compost pit where we pile all the leaves on behind our little barn.

Autumn is a second spring.

Where every leaf is a flower.

– Albert Camus

And there she is, resting after an afternoon of raking the leaves.  And of course, Doc was also out there with us.

He likes to either run around with a stick on his mouth or lie on the grass and crunch on a stick that he’s found.  You’ll hear him crunch, crunching on his stick.

And when he sees Boots, they like to stare and wait for the other to make a move and it’s usually Doc, but of course, he never out runs her.  She’s the boss and he knows it.

Just for fun, T and I made a little shortie

What’s your garden like in Autumn?

All About the Pumpkins

Before being a mum, we never really bothered to decorate our house, let alone carve pumpkins on Halloween.  The only preparations we had was making sure we had enough sweets for the little “trick or treaters” in our village.  But then of course, T came along.  The first time, she was too young.  But I did start decorating and carving, she just watched me.

But not on the second time around, she actually helped! And so pumpkin carving has been one of our little yearly traditions with my little girl.

I remember printing out a few stencils for the faces when I first did it.  But nowadays, I just wing it.  We still draw on it though, using simple triangles for the eyes and nose and just carving the biggest smile ever, because it’s the easiest!  And besides, according to T, we don’t like scary pumpkins, although we admittedly made the husband’s pumpkin look grumpy.  I have yet to find a non-grumpy historian.  I think it’s part of their job description.

And here’s my little helper cleaning out the pumpkins.  It’s messy and a bit icky, but my daughter loves it.

We bought our pumpkins last week, to think I though that was early.  But apparently not, we couldn’t even find a decent one in the supermarket pile.  All of them had dirty faces.  My husband thought that once we’ve carved that part away, it will be alright.  If only we had a pumpkin patch nearby, Instagram has been filled with lovely photographs from pumpkin patches.  Perhaps next year!

After carving the faces, I tried to scrape the dirty bits away.  I told T not to worry, once it’s dark and all lit up, the black bits won’t show.

 I think I did manage to clean them up and can you spot the grumpy pumpkin?

Little T admiring our window display.  No one will really see it though, apart from the farmer who lives down the road, since we live in a private road.  Ever since moving away from our little village, there won’t be knocking on our door either.  To go trick or treating, we have to drive back to our little village, where T will meet up with her friend and cause mayhem.  You can read about what it’s like here.  Hopefully it won’t be as mad this year as it was that year.

Does our house look spooky enough?  I hope so.

What about you? …

Exploring Rough Tor with Millets

*This is a sponsored post in collaboration with Millets.

Before we had T, my husband and I used to do a lot of walking here in North Cornwall.  We had a different dog back then.  For those who’ve been following my blog for some time now, you may have read about Mutley.  The dog who sadly passed away due to bone cancer when I was pregnant with T.  It took a while before we had another dog, and when T turned three, that’s when Doc joined our little family.

Admittedly we don’t do a lot of walking anymore.  That’s what happens I guess when you have children.  Extra curricular activities run even on the weekends.  But lately, my husband and I have been yearning to take up walking and exploring more of the outdoors again, by foot, like we used to.  We talked about buying ourselves proper hiking boots, good ones, not the kind that breaks after a season.  Luckily for us, Millets came to the rescue.

For avid hikers, dog walkers, or any lover of the outdoors, Millets is a must-visit for all your hiking gear.  They have the widest range of durable walking boots, jackets, rucksacks and everything else needed for your outdoor adventure.

1. Peter Storm: Men’s Insulated Pennine II Jacket and BRASHER: Men’s Country Master Walking Boots 2. PETER STORM: Girl’s Ormskirk Walking Boots 3. BRASHER: Women’s Country Trekker Walking Boots.

My husband, little T and I were really impressed when the items (see above) arrived.  Upon opening the boxes, we knew right away that they were all good quality and we’re really excited to get them all tested and since it’s T’s half-term break, we quickly planned an afternoon on Rough Tor.

T’s school broke up for half-term break on a rainy Thursday last week.  When I checked the weather forecast, Friday looked promising.  We waited for my husband to finish some work and also waited for T’s best-friend F who was spending the afternoon with us that day.  For awhile, I was wondering whether we should cancel, since the dark grey clouds seemed to be hovering, promising more rain.  But we decided to go for it after all, thanks to Millets, we were geared for whatever the weather.

The Historian wore the Peter Storm’s Men’s Insulated Jacket together with Brasher’s Men’s Country Walking Boots:

What he liked about the jacket:

It’s well padded and insulated.  Perfect for the rough Cornish weather.

What he didn’t like about it:

The pockets aren’t big enough for an OS map (see above) and it could do with another deeper inner pocket.  But then again, he says that people usually bring a rucksack with them, like we did that day, so it really isn’t much of a negative.

What he liked about the boots:

Everything.  He absolutely loved the boots.  He said it’s the perfect walking boots.  Keeps your feet warm and dry when walking in the rain or hiking through muddy and wet grass.

What he didn’t like about the boots:

Nothing. Zilch. Zero. Nada.

Rough Tor is about a twenty minute (or maybe even less drive from where we live)  It’s a tor (Cornish word for hill) on Bodmin Moor.   It’s a known place for hiking and also popular among the tourists.

It actually drizzled on the way there.  Doc snuggled up to my brand new boots.  I think he likes them too.

We took a photo of our new boots before the walk just to make a comparison after.

Then together with T’s best-friend F, we headed off for our little hike up Rough tor.

We’ve been to this place so many times especially when we have visitors around.  You don’t need to be an expert hiker to climb to the top.  I guess that’s one of the reasons why we like going.

You’ll also find a lot of sheep on the path that’s one of the reasons why we never allow Doc to go off leash.  He’ll frighten the poor sheep if we do!

“Take a photo of my boots mum!”  T said as she stopped in her tracks and of course I obliged.  I don’t think F, her best-friend was amused.

Looking at the sky, I remembered thinking “Oh dear, we better hurry before it starts to rain again.”  I wondered even whether to call it off but our little team was way ahead of me by now.

“Be careful please!”  I called out to the kids as they scrambled up the rocks.  I stopped and looked behind at how much we’ve covered.

The carpark seen between those trees looked so far away.  I quickened my pace by now I’ve lost sight of my husband and the kids were also quickly disappearing before my eyes.

I stopped to catch my breath and caught sight of these beautiful rock-formations all over Rough tor.  It’s such a breathtaking scene.

As if giants decided to play with the rocks and stack them up neatly one after the other.

I also remembered thinking “Thank goodness, I’m wearing proper boots!  I don’t think ordinary trainers would do the trek up the tor”.

Once up, there were more beautiful rock-formations around.  “What took you so long, mum?”  T asked me as I sat down to catch my breath.  “Didn’t you hear me calling for you?”  I asked her.  She shook her head.  It was too windy up there to hear anything I guess.

And there’s Doc and the husband admiring the view.  The clouds still looked ominous to me so in spite protests I told everyone that it’s time to head back down before it started to rain.

On our way back though, we saw another family going up the tor in spite the weather.  I remember thinking how brave they were considering they had smaller kids with them.

T and F as usual went ahead of us.  They were playing around as always by the time we got to them.

And or course, we had to take an “after-the-walk-photo” of our boots.

Verdict:  Men’s and Women’s boots from Brasher and Peter Storm Girl’s walking boots are excellent boots for the outdoors.

Need we say more?

I’d like to go back again though when the weather is better.  My husband read about some bronze age settlements somewhere around the tor, when the weather is better, we will come back and hunt for them.  It’s handy of course that, all this isn’t very far from where we live.

If you want to see more of the beautiful scenery surrounding Rough Tor, watch short video below:

What about you?

What kind of adventures have you done over the half-term break?

Choices: A Little Girl’s Dilemma

For those who have been following our little blog for some time now will know that little T has been doing gymnastics since she was about four.  She only stopped for a few months when her gym club closed and moved away.  After going for about two years, we thought that her time with gymnastics has come to an end.  In fact, she even announced her “retirement” from the sport.

That was when we decided that it was perhaps time to try something else.  We found her a ballet class run by a lovely teacher.  T tried it and loved it.  Apparently, according to T’s teacher, she has a natural ability.  Of course, we were pleased.

And then lo and behold, a satellite gymnastics class opened in a nearby town near us.  We took T along and that’s when she changed her mind and announced she was out of retirement.

It’s been about a year now of doing both gymnastics and ballet and I’m proud to say she’s doing well in both.  Her gym club has even invited her to join in the development squad group, which means two hours of gymnastics.  She’s still doing her ballet and is about to do her first ballet “exam” next month.

This term, she has also joined girls-football club and sports club every Thursday after school.  Not to mention she also does cello and swimming on Wednesdays.  Yes, my seven-year-old is doing way too much.

And recently, her gymnastics coach has invited little T to join an additional gymnastics class, this time focusing on rhythmic gymnastics on a Thursday.  But this means driving to the main gym club which is about a 45-minute drive from where we live.  This will also mean, she’ll have to give up sports-club which she loves, because she does it with her friends.  And it will be another late night. At the moment, Monday’s are her busiest since she does gymnastics from 5-7.  Did I mention that my seven-year-old is doing way too much?

And here lies the dilemma, something has got to give.  The problem is, she loves both her gymnastics and ballet.  She also loves playing football with her friends at school.  While she does the girl’s football with her friends on Wednesdays during school hours, she also wants to join the football club which happens on Monday afternoons after school.  Her teacher plans to form a football team and she wants to be included in that team.  Her teacher used to be an ex-professional football player.  When he retired he went into teaching and he said to my husband “Your daughter is naturally sporty.  She has good strength and a natural balance” which of course pleased my husband no end.

But she can’t.  Not if she continues to do 2 hours-of gymnastics, plus the additional 1 hour on Thursday (if she decides to do this).  It’s just way too much.

My poor seven-year-old doesn’t know what to do.  What to give up.  She asks us for advice but we remind her that at the end of the day, it is her choice.  She has to follow her heart and decide on what she wants to do.

At the moment, she’s thinking of giving up gymnastics.  I’m a bit saddened by this.  She’s worked so hard for her badges and clearly, her coaches does see potential in her.  They say that she has the perfect built and stamina to be a really good gymnast.  Some kids in her development class do gymnastics three times a week, some even more.

My husband and I are thinking, do we want this for our child?  While it’s good that she’s really into sports, we also want her to have a life.  We want her to have fun with her friends. As parents, isn’t that what we all want?  At the same, I think we also have to remind ourselves that our kids, are just kids.  Let them be kids.

As mentioned, at the moment, she’s thinking of giving up gymnastics.  We told her to think about it over half-term break before deciding on anything.  She wants to keep doing ballet, she says.  I’m thinking maybe she could keep doing the two-hour gym session on a Monday?  But my husband reminded me that she’s in the development squad for a reason.  She can’t stay there forever.  Besides, this little girl wants to join the football club.  Such a dilemma, for one so young!  At her age, I think the only dilemma I had was which stationary could I afford with my pocket-money, nothing major at all.

What would you advice?

Autumn Faves: These Boots were made for YOU!

My all time favourite pair of boots is one that I’ve worn since I was in my late teens.  Yes, it’s that old. Yes, it’s that durable and yes, I still have it with me.  It’s a pair of Dr. Martens boots in cherry red.  Back when all their shoes were still made in England and not China.  Back when you didn’t have to pay extra if you wanted a pair that was made in England.  Please don’t ask how long ago that was … because I won’t tell you 😉

I have many memories linked with those boots.  I guess that’s also one of the reasons why little T’s first ever pair of Dr. Martens were also cherry red like mine.  It doesn’t fit her anymore.  But we’ve kept it for sentimental reasons.

Anyway, I’ve had so much fun doing my fave chunky knits post, that I’ve decided to do another (gasp) “fashion” post, but this time it’s all about my favourite pick of boots which I’ve found online.  Here are my faves:

1. Clarks 2. H&M 3. Next 4. Camper

If only they weren’t so expensive, I’d order all of them.  Admittedly, I do have a lot of boots already, I don’t think I’d be able to justify a new buy even to myself.  Then again, I saw this mug online with the words “It’s always shoe o’clock.  Hmmm, perhaps I should buy that mug instead?

And if you’ve read the previous post, I know what you’re thinking, why am I doing another post for someone who claims to not like “fashion”?  I think the difference is that, I do like clothes and my choices are always more on comfort than style than the latest trend.  I wouldn’t even know what the latest trends are if you asked me 🙂

What about you?

Do you like boots too?

Do you go for comfort or style?

Autumn Faves: Chunky Jumpers

Since Autumn seems to have comfortably settled in, I’ve decided to embrace everything about this cozy season.  What do I love about Autumn, let me count the ways:

  • I love winter-warmer recipes, especially homemade soup like my favourite squash soup.
  • I love open and lit fires.
  • I love taking long Autumn walks.
  • I love the changing of the colours of the leaves from green, brown to golden.
  • And lastly, I love wearing chunky jumpers, who doesn’t?

I’ve never been a fashionable person. I’ve always gone for comfort and not style, especially now that I’m a mother.  Who has the energy to think of outfits for the school run?  Do women even do that, I wonder?  If you do, well done to you!  As for me, I usually grab whatever I can get my hands on.  I’m lucky if I remember to even brush my hair.  That’s one of the reasons why I have my hair short now – less hassle.

I do however love Autumn and Winter fashion, though I do use the word “fashion” loosely, as I mentioned, I don’t really care much about it but I love, love, love chunky jumpers.  Who cares if they make you look a bit heavier, as long as they keep you cosy and warm?  Here are four of my faves:

1. Face Face   2. Dorothy Perkins 3. H&M  4. Zara

Come to think of it, I don’t just love chunky jumpers, I guess you could say I love Autumn and Winter clothes.  I know what you’re thinking, “I thought you didn’t care much about fashion?” I guess I do, but only in the cold seasons 🙂 From lovely knits, to fluffy hats with pompoms and thick scarves, and boots!  To quote L.M. Montgomery (author of the classic – Anne of Green Gables)  “I’m so glad I live in a world where there are Octobers.”  And I’m adding …chunky jumpers!

What about you?

Do you love chunky knits too?

Autumn Images

The Indian summer I was so hoping for, didn’t happen.  It’s like summer didn’t even try to linger a bit longer.  It just packed its bag and nary a glance, left and shut the door quietly behind it.  Ah well….

Autumn isn’t that bad at all.  In fact, I do love the changing of the colours of the leaves from green, brown to golden.  I love raking them in the garden, dressed in a warm coat and wellies, engrossed in my own thoughts.  I pile all the leaves and scoop them up in our wheelbarrow, then wheel it behind the small barn and unto our compost heap.  I have a feeling a badger or hedgehog family might just decide to move in there soon.  They’ll dig in real deep under that pile of leaves.  Hopefully it will keep them warm.

All the leaves in the trees will soon be gone. I’ll keep raking them as fast as I can but the weather hasn’t been too kind lately.  The leaves have turned mucky.  When it’s better you’ll find me busy raking in the garden, such good exercise too.

And here is Boots on her favourite spot.  I’ve probably photographed her more than a dozen times on this very spot, over the seasons.  I think she likes it there so she can wait and watch before she pounces on her prey.

And you’ll still find the cows grazing in the empty field behind our house.  In the winter, they are all put in the barn.  I guess it’s because there’s not enough nutrients to be found in the grass and so they’ll have to be fed in the barn.

Autumn days are also lovely when you have a fire to light.  When I think of autumn, I also think of delicious home-made soup, thick-chunky jumpers, and lovely autumnal walks.

Yes, it isn’t that bad at all.  While I do miss you summer, I’m cozying up with Autumn now.  See you next year!