War Paint Makeup bag from Smudge by JillyWhen Jill sent this parcel to our office, I got to thinking about our first meeting and just how different things are now.

It was a couple of years ago, I was delivering digital training across Yorkshire and she was working on the same programme. We connected immediately, two northern chatty lasses having a right banter!

Time rolls forward and she’s been a busy lady designing websites for businesses but also following her passion to launch her own cosmetics and skincare range.

Which is no mean feat.

I was genuinely over the moon to receive the parcel, all beautifully wrapped in brand colour tissue and tied with raffia string. I felt really proud of this gutsy lass.

Hidden within the parcel was a 100ml tube of Natural Tea Tree and Lemon Face Wash, £12 and a fab makeup bag emblazoned with War Paint (true enough most days!) which retails at £10.

The face wash is lush. A really subtle mix of tea tree and lemon, the lemon fragrance wins out for me, handy as I love fruity fragrances. My face felt really clean after using it and it’s especially good for oily skin (mine isn’t so I’d probably use the product every other day).

Jilly is developing a full range of skincare products and hand poured soy candles which are cruelty free, only tested on humans, organic and the ingredients are sourced in the UK.  Next on my list to try; the scrumptious looking lip balm and glosses.

If you’re keen to support small, local businesses, then jump over to Jilly’s website and take a look around.


When I was chatting with one of my friends about weaning she looked at me in horror! I genuinely thought it was ‘normal’ to let babies play with their food. It’s a little like burping isn’t it? You say good boy after each and every burp and celebrate the release of wind but at some point the line blurs and this gesture is no longer acceptable.

Don’t get me wrong when weaning first started I wanted full control of the spoon but when I saw the sheer glee and delight on my little boys face when he delved into his Babymoov bowl and squidged and squeezed the contents and then devoured the contents of his palm (I had only turned my back for a nanosecond). From that point he refused the spoon from me unless I relinquished at least fifty percent of the power.

I loved reading the blog by Babymoov’s chosen nutritionist Julia Wolman who recently answered my queries in my post entitled, Stressless Weaning: The Answers To My Questions  Here’s a little extract of, ‘Mess is Best: Why babies should play with their food!’

This is my son Leo at 8 months. Whilst weaning, my obsessive-compulsive tendencies made me mindful of the clean-up process that lay ahead, on the other hand, the nutritionist in me knew how important it was not to stress about the mess.

All too often I witness babies reaching out to touch a spoon or bowl of food to see and feel what’s in it, whilst the parent ever so quickly retracts it out of their reach. I understand, I have a fear of mess too, and I know it really is so much easier to just steer little hands clear of anything semi-solid. However, when it comes to weaning mess really is best.

Here are five good reasons why it is important for babies to explore (or squish, prod, smear!) their food at mealtimes:

1. It’s fun

2. Learning through sensory play

3. Increasing familiarity

4. Fine motor skills development

5. Hand-eye coordination

Whether using spoons or self-feeding, when babies do it themselves they are learning how to get food into their mouths. And while most of it may go anywhere but their mouth at the beginning, with practice they’ll quickly work it out!

#Messisbest but I must admit that I currently have help from MessyMe to keep it somewhat contained and Bibetta to keep the little fella clothes as clean as possible – read about our experience of these two brands very soon.


5 months after the treatment from Newcastle Foot ClinicMy feet are pretty much neglected for three quarters of the year, with the exception of summer sandal time and Christmas party frivolities, they’re housed in shoes or boots and barely see the light of day.

But for the last 3 or 4 years I’ve had a fungal nail infection that I could not get rid of. I know exactly when I got it. I’d bought a fabulous pair of Italian leather shoes from a charity shop, brand new and they were too small and nipped my big toenails. I only wore them twice.

I’ve bought all of the over-the-counter lotions and treatments (TOTAL waste of time and money) and nothing shifted it and in fact, all the picking and messing about made it worse.

State of my toenails with the fungal infection FEb 2016In February this year, I’d finally had enough. I was properly was fed up. Sophie’s wedding was in July and I wanted to have the option of wearing sandals. And varnishing over bad toes nails just wouldn’t cut it anymore. I wanted my feet back to normal.

A quick google search later and I was at the Newcastle Foot Clinic.

I was treated by Craig Burton, the owner of the Newcastle Foot Clinic. Patient, knowledgeable and lovely, he was insistent that he could treat my nails and there was a great chance that I’d not have to have the nails removed. He was also insistent that my story of foot neglect was not unique.

It was worth a go. It wasn’t until this point that I realised that I’d neglected a part of my own body for years; left it with a fungus infection no less! As I lay in the chair having my treatment, I really did wonder why I’d do that to myself.

The treatment that I undertook is called Clearanail  in which 50 tiny holes are drilled into each of your nails so when you spray them with the fungal nail treatment, it actually gets to the source of the infection.  It’s called Controlled Micro Penetration (CMP) and the drill is set to a specific depth meaning it never damages the nail bed.

Receiving the treatment at the Newcastle Foot Clinic

It doesn’t hurt at all. It was a bit of a weird sensation but it’s all done in less than an hour.

I was advised against painting my nails until the nail had actually grown out, which makes sense as you’d be defeating the purpose of the holes otherwise. I became a little obsessed checking the little holes in my nails (fascinating and odd), spraying my feet consistently every day. It was great when I spotted the holes moving and healthier nail following!

I had my treatment in back in late February ’16 and in 4 months I’ve got my nails back. They’re not perfect yet but they’re a million times better and I can see the new, uninfected nail growing nicely where my cuticles are.

I asked Craig’s permission to wear nail varnish to Sophie’s wedding; he said yes and that we’d check to see if I needed another course of CMP in the Autumn.

Looking down at my feet, I am so happy that they look normal again! I didn’t realise the impact that not getting them sorted was having. My feet were ugly to me for years, and now they look like my feet again!

I can’t recommend the staff at the Newcastle Foot Clinic enough. They’re really lovely and passionate about feet and general health. (I ended up getting orthotics for my shoes and my knee pain has completely vanished but that’s another blog post).

I’m off to paint my nails. If you want to find out more about the Newcastle Foot Clinic pop over and give them a Like on Facebook x

Image from Northumberland National Park

Were ever you are in the UK you will no doubt be within reach of one of our fifteen National Parks. From the Brecon Beacons to Yorkshire Dales there is certainly something for everyone.

For our National Parks Week experience we visited Northumberland and more specifically Walltown. We’ve never visited this section of Northumberland National Park and were pleasantly surprised as to what was offer. For two days during NPW the site is transformed into a playground filled with adventure aiding imagination and encouraging all to try something different.

Duncan Wise, Visitor Development and Marketing Manager of Northumberland NP joined us in Newcastle and gave us a running commentary along the route to the site (watch out for 2017 when a huge development is occurring because of Lottery funding).

We sampled archery, a zip line, climbing wall, animals and pizza-making. I always knew I had a girly girl yet dare-devil daughter. It was truly apparent in her determined climbing of the wall in slippy trainers and her three go’s on the high zip wire (you weren’t getting me up there). I was even more super proud of Emily at her third go on the zip wire. There was a boy behind her (aged 10) who kept telling his mum just how nervous he was and she calmly turned around waited for him to finish talking to his mummy and said;

My mummy helps people stay safe and she has let me go on here and I’m her most precious poppet so it must be really safe (looks around for my confirmation). That’s right isn’t it mummy?

Heart melts!

After the activities we headed for pizza making. This was a little too popular and it would have been great if more people had been on hand to help. The pizzas were however very tasty!

I was very gutted when Emily decided she was too old for storytelling which I found very strange as we have two stories every single evening but I peaked in the tent and saw that there was a heavy infant contingency if there had been an older group I’m sure she would have actively listened.

On a usual day there is woodland, meadows, wildlife lakes, car parking, toilets, café and firm paths (although access to these in places was quite wet). There are several pleasant circular walks with access for all inclusive of  wheelchair and buggy users (I opted to leave my one year at home and would definitely pop him in a carrier).

Nearby you have Carvoran Roman Army Museum and Hadrian’s Cycleway. Getting to Walltown is easy via the Hadrian’s Wall Bus and there is also an onsite car park (£4 / vehicle all day, with tickets transferable to other National Park car parks along the route of the wall). If you come on your bike there are lockups.

Walltown is a designated Dark Sky Discovery Site perfect for viewing the dark skies over the Northumberland National Park. We are heading back in September to do a guided walk we’ll let you know how we get on.

#Top tip: Wear appropriate footwear in the form of wellies or walking boots. When the site is affected by rain (we are talking the north of England here) is can get rather squidgy underfoot in parts.

Love from

Suz and Emily x


Kingslodge Inn Durham

Conversation is at the heart of friendship.

It’s on our strap line and it’s certainly true for Suzanne and I. But what we need is a lovely, comfy, friendly place to chat. One that’s so lovely, comfy and friendly you forget to take pictures of the wonderful food you’re eating!

The Kingslodge Inn in Durham one such place. Nestled in a street not far from Durham train station you will find the vision of the new owners coming to fruition in a cosy and welcoming traditional pub with top notch en-suite accommodation (we didn’t see it but the waitresses assured us that it was true), serving beers, local real ales and home-cooked food to appeal to the local community as well as visitors to the area.

With the help of sat nav we were welcomed into the Kingslodge Inn through the metal gates and into their own private car park.

The moment we walked through the door we were greeted by lovely staff who showed us to our booth. And then, we looked up and a couple of hours had passed! Partly due to the fact that we’d not seen each other properly for AGES, partly due to the fact that despite there being a plethora of signs saying to go to the bar to order we patiently waited (until we could wait no more) and thirdly but not least important, because the food was so wonderful we kept ordering, eating and chatting.

The perfect night out!

This would be a pretty useless review if we didn’t mention the actual food! So here we go…


This wonderful Antipasto was enough to whet our appetites. A tasty selection of cured meats, olives, bread and oils, is a lovely sharing platter (unless you are Suzanne and want to eat the lot). (I’m sorry Nicola but I don’t like sharing ^Suz)

And now we need to be honest….We were chatting away when our mains came and we completely and utterly forgot to take images (sorry but it’s your own fault Kingslodge Inn you shouldn’t have made us so comfortable). That has to be the best testimonial we could give, right? We ordered (and wolfed) down pan seared salmon with creamy lemon sauce, served with wild rice & broccoli and The Kingslodge Burger which consisted of Aberdeen Angus steak mince, topped with melted cheddar cheese & relish, served with fries, salad & coleslaw.

The salmon, rice and broccoli were all well cooked alas the lemon sauce was a let down for Suzanne and she’s glad she asked for it separately – it could just be her though as on the whole she’s not a lover of sauce on fish. The burger and it’s accomplishments were absolutely huge and ever so tasty.

Onto dessert…

Kingslodge cheesecake

Suzanne-icecreamThis cheesecake was as indeed very pretty. Different from the usual cheesecake, it’s a bit mousy but no less flavoursome for it! The sticky toffee sundae was as glorious as it looks below but well and truly defeated us. It was a little too much for one (you can see that it’s nearly as big as Suzanne’s head!), I’d recommend sharing it, unless of course you’re in the mood for a full-tummy treat.

We washed everything down with a couple of glasses of wine from a bottle of house red (the rest we took home) and we’d order the same bottle in future.

After we had finished and our plates were cleared we spent some time talking to one of the waitresses (I’m so sorry I didn’t take down her name). She truly seemed happy in her new role and loved that she was being developed and receiving a lot of training. Investment in staff is so important to both myself and Suzanne and so it was so nice to hear about her story so far and we wish her good luck.

Would we visit again, absolutely infact we can’t wait to try breakfast sometime soon.

I’ve also just visited the newest member of the Inn Collection which is The Commissioner’s Key  in Blyth Northumberland keep your eyes peeled for our review.

Take care

Nic and Suz x