Sunday, 27 November 2011

And the winner is..........

Huge congratulations to Jo Young - winner of the fantastic and HUGE retro sweet hamper!

Your entry #82 was picked out by and Rafflecopter - the results of which can be seen on the original competition post.

Monday, 7 November 2011

And my world came crashing down.........

A few months ago we discovered Keani appeared to be allergic to peanuts.  No biggie.  Or so we thought.

Our gorgeous daughter has suffered with allergies since she was a few months old, first dairy, then egg, then finally peanuts.  She outgrew her dairy and is slowly outgrowing her egg.  The peanut thing came as a bit of a shock as we thought were were 'over' the allergy thing.  She'd had Nutella so we didn't really give nuts another thought.  We had no idea peanut allergy and egg allergy go hand in hand.

She had a strong reaction to a tiny amount of peanut.  I wasn't unduly worried.  And then I googled...

It was then that I felt my whole world had come crashing down.  The words 'life-long allergy' and 'life threatening' jumped out at me and made me feel quite sick.  Our beautiful daughter would have to carry an adrenalin shot with her for the rest of her life.

3 months down the line and things are getting a little easier.  We have had further tests and she has tested negative for 'tree nuts' but has now tested positive for shellfish.  I've had to go into pre-school and attend some Epi-pen training with the staff who look after her, I've had to educate my friends and family too.  I've needed to reiterate the seriousness of the allergy to everyone around my little girl.

It's so so difficult for others to understand though.  At parties I'm constantly on my guard, watching her, checking her mouth, making sure she's not reacting, that her tongue's not swelling, that she's not having difficulty breathing.  Her little friends at pre-school have been asked not to bring nuts in their lunch boxes and definitely no peanut butter!  That's ok for now, but as she gets older, what will happen then? I'm going to have to trust her to look after herself.  I can't even contemplate the teenage years!

But life goes on.  It's an allergy.  Children have to deal with far far worse.  I'm slowly coming to terms with it.  We'll be ok I think.  I need to stop catastrophising though, and focus on the positives.

Our gorgeous daughter is 4 years old today.  Beautiful on the inside and out.  We are so lucky to have her in our life.

Wednesday, 2 November 2011

Ah, the romance of Venice!

The lovely people over at have challenged us bloggers to write a post on our favourite holiday destination.  You can see the competition on their page if you fancy having a crack yourself, but hurry cos it finishes on 4th November!

If you haven't heard of them already Travelizer is a new travel comparison site dedicated to finding you some amazing deals for your hols.  In this age of frugality and counting the pennies, we all need to make savings where we can and Travelizer are there to make sure you still have fantastic holidays but at the best price possible.

I returned from a short visit to Venice earlier this year and fell in love with the place.  This is my tale.....
I love travelling, always have. I travelled to Australia when I was 26 and spent a year living and working there (thank you Mr Credit Card). When I returned the travel bug hit me big time and I ended up working as a worldwide specialist travel consultant for a few years. This cushty job meant I was able to go on some truly fantastic holidays. 

In my thirties I decided to settle down, get married, have the 2.4 kids and worldwide travel was not really on the agenda.

And then one day I entered a Valentines poetry competiton with Naked Wines and won! I think the fact that I rhymed Elvis with pelvis might have swung it for me.  I won 2 nights in Venice, a trip to a winery and other extras thrown in too (dinner fully paid for, a gondala ride etc..). We left the kids at the grandparents and off we went, oh the freedom!

On arrival at Marco Polo airport we were met by an employee of Botter Winemakers and he whisked us off to meet the 'main man' at the winery.  There we were invited to sample some of the wine and taken for a tour round the factory.

It was only midday, I'd not eaten lunch and now I was being handed lovely glasses of wine to 'sample' and no, I didn't spit it out!  I was decidedly merry by the time we'd finished, so much so that I had to go back to the hotel and have a 'little lie down'.  Haha! rock and roll....

Ooh check out that lovely wine...

The hotel was gorgeous and just off one of the Venetian canals, very well located.  We spent the rest of the afternoon having a good wander round, I was so excited about being there!  The weather was just perfect and we made the most of being able to drink wine during the day (no kids!).


I took loads of photos of the canals, I found Venice to be full of character and a really interesting, beautiful place.

However, we always try to get off the beaten track when we're away and don't do the 'typical' tourist spots, quite often we'll ask a local cab driver for their recommendations. So whilst Venice does have it's heaving tourist spots (St Marks Square for example), it's definitely worth exploring the back streets. We stumbled upon this mask making shop which actually made the masks for the Tom Cruise film 'Eyes Wide Shut'.

That evening we found a lovely spot for a meal, unfortunately we couldn't understand the 'posh' menu (no English translation) so just thought we'd wing it and pick something that sounded nice in Italian!  Unfortunately we were handed a massive plate of all manner of deep fried fish, and it all tasted a bit 'samey' and bland.  Gutted!  Anyhow the wine was nice.....

The next day we just had to have a gondola ride and I announced to James that I only wanted a 'fit gondolier'.

He's a good egg, my husband!  After our gondola ride we spent more time wandering, and we might have stopped for a few cheeky glasses of wine somewhere...

We always find that it's best to dine where the locals dine on holiday and this often means the food is cheaper too because obviously they're not catering towards tourists.  So that evening we scoured the streets and found a cosy restaurant full of Italians and not an English voice to be heard.  This time we were armed with an Italian/English dictionary.  Haha! No flies on us!  We had 3 courses and 2 bottles of wine...  it was fabulous, made all the more better because it was free! 

I adored Venice, the cobbled streets, the old magnificent buildings, the character, the food, oh and the wine.  It was everything I thought it would be and more.


I've been very lucky with competitions this year and a lot of it is down to some lovely people 'liking' my posts and voting for me.  As a thank you to all of you I would like to host a small competition to win a MASSIVE retro sweet hamper.  It was a prize I won recently and I did want to keep it but to be honest I want to lose a bit of timber before I go on hols early next year, so eating sweets all day is not a good idea... (but my, how I love sweets!).

The hamper is a bit like this (only bigger!) and all you need to do is post a comment below (you may need to click on 'read more') telling me about your favourite childhood sweet - what was it and why was it your favourite? Easy!  For an extra entry simply follow my blog on Google Connect.