grayscale photo of woman posing in front of table fan

Secrets to Sleeping Well in a Heatwave

Too Hot to Handle?

Welcome to Hell! Or that’s pretty much how I’ve felt upon heading up to my bedroom for the last week or so thanks to the current heatwave. We’re just not used to it here in the UK so don’t have the benefit of air conditioning as other countries do. When, on the odd occasion it does get hot here, it tends to get humid and sticky too – not great combinations for getting a good night’s sleep.

Ways to Cool Things Down

  1. Shut the blinds/curtains and windows during the day in rooms when the sun is shining directly into those rooms.
  2. Leave upstairs bedroom windows open provided safe to do so whilst sleeping(investing in a mosquito net to avoid creepy-crawlies).
  3. Invest in good quality electric fans and keep the door open in the room used in (why not try putting a tray of ice cubes in front of the air flow to help cool the air).
  4. Use thin cotton sheets wherever possible for bedding and avoid synthetic nightwear.
  5. Keep a stash of ice cubes or a cold flannel close by to place on pulse points or try freezing a hot water bottle instead to keep next to the feet/hands. Another alternative is a plant mister kept next to the bed to spray yourself periodically as needed.
  6. Stay hydrated throughout the day drinking more water than usual as you’ll be losing so much more through sweating.
  7. Flip your pillow frequently – you may also want to try cooling the pillow case in the fridge before bedtime.

What Not to Do

  • Avoid taking a cold shower – if a shower is necessary make it a tepid one.
  • Don’t indulge in alcohol – whilst you’ll likely fall asleep quickly, it’s unlikely you’ll stay asleep, especially if you don’t usually drink.
  • Don’t toss and turn. If you can’t sleep, get up and find something relaxing to do (not involving phones or computers!)
  • Don’t nap during the day.
  • Don’t cover your feet if you do cover yourself when sleeping.
  • Don’t exercise close to bedtime or engage in any other activity that raises body temperature(!)
  • Don’t fret – if you live in the UK, chances are we’ll soon be back to wet and rainy summer days very soon – comfort yourself with knowing you’ll soon be able to catch up on all the sleep you want safe in that knowledge!

Have you any tips you’d like to share with others? Personally, I tend to start off in bed but halfway through the night I end up coming downstairs to sleep on the couch as it’s so much cooler downstairs by then.

Feel free to share this article with others who may be struggling to sleep in this hotter than hell weather and remember…Stay Cool 😎

close up photo of blue bird perched on branch

What’s in Your Garden?

Who’s Your Garden Visitor?

We’re very lucky that where we live in our East Manchester town, our garden is frequently visited by numerous different creatures. Whether it’s birds, bees, bats or butterflies, there always seems to be something wandering around out there!

Baby Foxes

Earlier this year, we noticed a beautiful family of foxes visiting the garden. They still visit from time to time but tend to be alone now that they have grown bigger and are far more wary. Below is a video that I’ve posted before but it’s a lovely throwback to their very young days:

Baby foxes playing together earlier this year in our back garden

Collage Mix

Mouse Visitor

We even had a few visits off a local mouse:

Little mouse running about the patio

And these are just the ones, I’m quick enough to get a photo or video of – we also have a nightly visit off a small bat, a heron flying overhead as well as frogs jumping out at me whilst doing the gardening!

Keeping an Eye Out For

Personally, I’d love to have a visit off a hedgehog as I haven’t seen a wild one in years, or even a wild rabbit so hopefully one day (or night!) soon, I may get an extra special visitor.

Some animals do make me a bit nervous such as your general creepy-crawlies but I’m trying hard to warm to them these days – now that I’m getting into gardening more and more, it’s something I’m learning to live with if not quite love yet. Also, I have to admit I did jump a fair bit myself when that frog popped out at me whilst weeding. Then, later that day when I looked up and saw that heron flying over head and managed to get an appreciation of the sheer size of the thing, I may have let out quite a yelp too!

And just this weekend whilst round at my uncle’s home, my dad spotted what we think was a hawk feasting on something in the garden – take a look – what do you think it is? **Update: Have been informed its a sparrowhawk**

Are you lucky enough to have a particular wild animal come to visit your garden? Or have you any tips on how to attract and care for our wildlife visitors?

Guinea Pig Sitting!

My Very Important Job This Week!

This week, whilst my eldest daughter is off on her holidays with her boyfriend and his family, I’ve been left in charge of her babies – technically guinea pigs not children – but they’re still her absolute pride and joy. No pressure then!

We always had dogs when I was growing up, never rodents, so I thought I’d better read up on caring for them in their “mummy’s” absence so that I could keep them both in the lifestyle to which they’ve become accustomed! I had a good read of Blue Cross’ website to get a decent overview from a respected source on how to care for these little guys:

https://www.bluecross.org.uk/pet-advice/caring-your-guinea-pig

A few things worth noting about guinea pigs, also known as “cavies” I’ve discovered from Blue Cross are:

  • Boy guinea pigs are called “boars” and girls “sows” (just like real pigs to which they bear no relation nor are they from Guinea);
  • Need to be kept in groups of 2 or more as they get lonely on their own;
  • Can live for between 4 to 8 years;
  • Have sensitive hearing so avoid subjecting to loud environments;
  • Curious and friendly they are also shy and like to be under cover at times so ensure that this is provided for in their hutch which can be kept inside or outside preferably in a shed or weather protected area that is also predator-proof;
  • Allow them to graze outdoors frequently in a run as well as letting them wander in a suitable area indoors if they are house pets;
  • Important to clean them out daily to avoid them developing complications like “bumblefoot”;
  • Hay, dry-food mix and fruit and vegetables make up their daily diet and fresh water needs to be provided daily in a water bottle;
  • Long-haired guinea pigs need to be groomed regularly and all varieties should have their teeth and feet regularly checked for problems;
  • Avoid breeding them as this is something that very much should be done by experts only given some particular complications that can occur – so ensure males are neutered if keeping in mixed groups;
  • Don’t keep in the same area as rabbits as the piggies can be hurt or intimidated by these bigger animals;
  • Like playing in tubes, pipes and cardboard boxes – ours have little balls too that we pop food in for them to forage to keep them entertained;
  • When handling pick up with both hands, with one hand gently holding underneath and one on top, held close to the body so they feel safe;
  • Are friendly and sociable and enjoy being held or stroked if this attention provided regularly. One of ours loves his chin being stroked!
  • Great pets for children but, due to the level of daily care required, an adult/older child will need to be responsible in providing this as it would be too much for a young child to do alone;
  • Will communicate vocally, loudly squeaking at times! Whenever the fridge door opens or they hear their mummy coming, ours squeak like crazy thinking it means food-time! Different noises mean different things so it’s important to spend time with your piggies to get to know their cues.
  • When happy will “popcorn” and “zoom” about their cage i.e. run and jump in glee!

There’s so much more of course but just this list alone gives you an idea of how much more there is to guinea pigs than certainly I ever imagined before having them.

I knew my daughter would be missing them so I sent her a good night Facebook post from her baby boys every night so she knew that they were alright. I quite enjoyed it and she did too:

It was a really nice way to keep in touch whilst she was on her first grown-up holiday without us actually and I really enjoyed playing nanna to these two funny and cheeky boys 🙂

Kids Say the Funniest Things

One of the best things about being a parent is getting to listen to some absolute classics that your kids come out with.

Like when this little thing landed on our window the other evening to the absolute delight of my youngest child, Mia, who exclaimed:

“Look, Mummy! A night-time butterfly!”🦋🦋🦋

Or, when she was much younger and going on her first trip to Chester Zoo, I asked her what animal she was most looking forward to seeing – a mermaid apparently! 🧜‍♀️🧜‍♀️🧜‍♀️

What are some of the funny things your kids have said/done?

What’s Your “Go-To” Recipe?

What’s Your Go-To Recipe?

I can’t say I’ve ever been described as a domestic goddess that I can remember but every now and then I do get a hankering to get my pinny on and pretend. I like to keep it simple (which is probably for the best!) with a nice, wholesome Leek and Sweet Potato Soup and this time I decided to bake a batch of home-made bread to go with it.

Really, as long as you’ve got 25g of butter, a couple of leaks, a large sweet potato and enough chicken stock to make 600 ml of stock for your soup base, plus pepper to give it a kick, generally you’re good to go.

Chop your leaks and pop them in with your butter for a few minutes whilst you peel and chop your sweet potato which you can also then throw in along with your chicken stock. Leave to simmer for 15 minutes, season with pepper and leave to cool. Once cooled, pour into a blender and whizz until creamy before sticking back in the pan to warm up and viola!

The recipe I followed today however can be found in better detail here with the option of adding bacon if that takes your fancy: https://www.bbcgoodfood.com/recipes/740677/leek-and-sweet-potato-soup

The soup recipe I’ve linked to says it makes 4 but in my view that would be a stretch to meet my family’s appetite! I’d say 3 at the most.

For the bread, I decided to try Jamie Oliver’s recipe:

https://www.jamieoliver.com/recipes/bread-recipes/basic-bread-recipe/

Only thing I did different was less salt, brown sugar instead of white and added chia seeds.

Well, it kept me out of trouble on a Sunday morning anyway! What’s your favourite go-to recipe?

Have We Been Brainwashed into Buying More?

I love stumbling across something random on Netflix and this week I just so happened to stumble across Minimalism: A Documentary About the Important Things which definitely got me thinking.

Now, I’m not a minimalist at all nor am I a hoarder – for one I’m not a big shopping fan – but the documentary did raise some interesting points about whether or not, over a number of decades being exposed to some fairly insidious advertising techniques, we have collectively and inadvertently bought into a culture of compulsive consumerism.

One of the questions it was suggested to ask yourself was if the goods you are buying are adding value to your life. If they are great, purchase them but essentially, it’s just adding a moment of mindfulness before getting sucked into the next fashion fad and spending for the sake of spending.

I won’t say too much more about the programme as I’d rather people watch it themselves and make their own minds up or head over to the website of the people behind the programme and book:

https://www.theminimalists.com/films/

So, Have We All Been Brainwashed?

Probably – who hasn’t even just once in their lives purchased something, not because it added real value to our lives, but because of the supposed prestige that came along with wearing/owning that item.

I came from a really disadvantaged background where money was very tight – always. It never bothered me until I got to high school and the fact that I was bullied on a daily basis for living in social housing and not having the “right” trainers or clothes with the most fashionable label. My first job was as a paper-girl at 13 (without a bike!) where I trudged the streets for a measly £5.00 per week 6-days a week getting up at 6 am. I knew as soon as I got that job what I was going to buy when I’d saved up enough money – a pair of Adidas trainers. It took me 5 weeks to buy a super discounted pair but I still remember how proud I was when I got those trainers.

Did it stop the bullying? No, the damage was already done but I don’t blame the children who bullied me anymore. They were brainwashed and victims themselves of a culture that celebrates “things” over “people”.

Can We Change the Compulsive Consumer Culture?

Definitely – I think the tide is already turning. So many of us now are realising that we were duped. We bought all the wonderful make-up, clothes, technology, cars, holidays, etc but we still feel unfulfilled. What’s that all about?

I’ve come across so many people recently who have made the decision to turn inwards towards themselves, as well as reconnecting with other people rather than things, and in doing so have found genuine peace and happiness. Once that peace is discovered, the compulsive consumer illusion tends to shatter irrevocably pretty quickly.

It doesn’t mean that we have to live like hermits and give up all our belongings, just a priority re-adjustment on what’s really important and brings more lasting contentment. It also doesn’t mean that we’ll never be sad, angry, hurt, confused or feel unfulfilled at times – it’s about facing those feelings and not quashing those emotions with short-lived and shallow distractions.

Having said all that, this is all just my take on our current culture tendencies, as inspired by the documentary and my own observations. Give the documentary a try yourself and let me know what you think in the comments 🙂

accuracy afternoon alarm clock analogue

Looking for Your Life Purpose?

No Planet B

Maybe this is it. If you haven’t yet watched the thought-provoking Our Planet on Netflix with Sir David Attenborough’s urgent message to us all, I highly recommend it.

Taking Inspiration from Across Generations

Personally, seeing Greta Thunberg and her fellow young supporters making such an impact, I feel pretty inspired to do whatever I can, whenever I can to at least try.

And the amazing thing about it is that it has helped bring new purpose to my life, to see and interact with the world around me in a different way.

Turning Over a New Leaf

It wasn’t always like this for me. I was never brought up in a family or world that really cared about these issues as strongly as they do today. But, as Sir David and his team of scientists make clear, there is still time – just.

I keep seeing the phrase “Every disaster movie starts with the government ignoring a scientist” and frighteningly there’s a lot of truth in that statement.

How You Can Help

If you do just one thing today to help the planet, become more educated on climate change whether by watching the amazing Our Planet or visiting websites such as WWF and Friends of the Earth – you’ll be glad you did.

red and gray rain boots near pink umbrella

Ten Things to Do on a Rainy Day

Rainy Day Stuff

Coming from Manchester, England, a place fairly well known for its grey days and rainy weather, and having lived here all my life, I sometimes have to get inventive when the kids are off school and the weather decides to put a dampener on the day.

Out of Term Entertainment

It’s currently half-term and many kids are still off school here at the moment for another week, with the forecast for the rest of the week being “unsettled”.

Whether you’ve got kids or are a big kid yourself, here’s my run-down of 10 things to try on a rainy day:

Go for a Welly Walk

Kids (and big kids!), often love splashing in puddles on a wet day. Take a brolly and wear your wellies, even if it’s a quick walk round the block. It’s a chance to get some fresh air and tire them out – who knows, you might even enjoy it.

Hot Chocolate & Marshmallows

I strongly recommend doing number 1 first and then coming in, wrapping up in some warm clothes and sipping hot chocolate and marshmallows to warm back up again. Very cosy.

Curl Up With a Good Book

Or film, whatever you prefer. You can incorporate number 1 and/or 2 above to make a day of it or just curl up in your jammies!

Spring Clean

Another option is to make the most of the bad weather to de-clutter the house. It doesn’t have to be the whole house, maybe just a room or a DIY job you’ve been meaning to get done. The benefit of doing this on a rainy day is that your not stuck in doors on a sunny day doing it.

Break Out the Board Games

Most of us have at least one board game or a pack of cards lying about the house but how often do we get them out in this digital-age with technology and new games and apps always at our fingertips? Monopoly anyone?

Bake a Cake

Of course it doesn’t have to be a cake – anything warm and cosy will do. Maybe a batch of home-made bread or pie. Kids love to get creative in the kitchen so maybe a home-made pizza and then that’s dinner sorted too!

Listen to the Rain

Many people find it very relaxing to listen to the sound of the rain as attested to by the multitude of apps available for this very activity. Just sitting and relaxing or meditating to the sound of the rain can be very soothing to the soul. Might struggle getting the kids to try this one!

Get Crafting

Again not something you see as much of nowadays with the abundance of technology around us, but I’ve yet to see a child turn down a fun crafting activity. It doesn’t have to be messy or expensive and it can be a fun way for adults to get in touch with their inner child – kids or no kids! It could by Play-doh, Kinetic Sand, painting, gluing and sticking…

Face-Paints/Makeovers

Why not break out the face paints and/or make up and give each other a brand new look!

Paper Aeroplane Tournament

This one’s my favourite, fun for all ages! Of course again, feel free to get creative – it doesn’t have to be paper aeroplanes. It could be a wind-up toy race or an origami competition for example.

So there you have it – my top ten ideas for a Rainy Day. Try one at a time or turn it into a challenge and take them all on. How many can you get through before the rain stops?

planet earth

Want to be a Superhero?

Calling All Superheroes!

Great – Because now you can! Judging by the success of superhero films, TV shows and comics, pretty much most of us have dreamt of having superpowers at least once in our lives. But, I wonder, if we really did have superpowers, would we even use them?

The Nemesis

Usually, when the likes of the Avengers save the planet from some diabolical threat, we applaud that as a superpower. In real life though, there is a just as diabolical threat facing the planet right now but no superheroes to stop it. The threat, of course, is climate change.

For decades now, we’ve all heard about the damage being done to the planet and gradually matters have improved – but not quickly enough. Now we need to up our game, fast, if the damage is not to be irreversible.

Pick Your Superhero Power!

So, if you’ve ever wanted to save the planet and be a superhero, now’s your chance! Just pick one of the following as your new “superpower” and save the planet:

  • Drive with windows up;
  • Go “meat and dairy free” one day a week;
  • Reuse whatever you can, bags, jars coffee cups, water bottles;
  • Recycle everything;
  • Buy recyclable only where possible
  • Putting lids on pans when cooking;
  • Dry clothes outside;
  • Keep car tyres inflated;
  • Sign an online petition with an organisation like WWF or Greenpeace;
  • Lobby your MP;
  • Walk or use public transport;
  • Turn off lights;
  • Shorter showers;
  • Try zero waste

Imagine if every person on the planet changed just one thing in their lives from this list, what a difference that would make. Wouldn’t hurt to try?

What could you change today to save the world?