Monday, 21 May 2018

This is a post I've been contemplating writing for quite a while, but I've come to the conclusion that sharing my story may help others, so here it goes...

** There's a bit of pus and pimple talk here, so don't read over your breakfast if you have a weak stomach! **

I've struggled with nodulocystic acne since I was 14 or 15. It still haunts me today, as I approach my mid-thirties, rearing its ugly head (pardon the pun!) when I least expect it and lingering for what can be months at a time. I have come to the conclusion that this is a condition that will never go away forever. For me there is no cure, just treatment to try and control the outbreaks. Read on to find out how I have finally come to terms with this painful condition.


So what is nodulocystic acne?

Nodulocystic acne or Acne Vulgaris is a very severe form of acne, resulting in large, red, inflamed and very painful nodules (hard lumps) and cysts (softer, pus-filled lumps with no 'head') deep within the skin. You can have nodular or cystic acne, or like me, a combination of the two.

Breakouts usually occur on the face and often on the chest, neck or back. It more commonly affects adolescent boys, but can also occur in women later on in their adulthood, especially during times of hormonal imbalance.

Left untreated, this type of acne can cause deep scarring, emotional and psychological damage.

More about the causes and treatment later, but first let me tell you my story...


How has acne affected me?

High school years

Kids can be cruel. I went to an all girls high school so I was ready made bait for some of the bullies! You can hide the redness but can't hide the massive lumps from nodulocystic acne, even with the best make-up. So I was a prime target for cold looks, stares, whispers and name calling by some of my fellow students and those from the neighbouring schools. Being a teenage girl is tough at the best of times, but throw in a face that looks like it's been eaten by vicious mosquitoes and you're instant target practice! So high school wasn't fun in that respect. 

Aside from the negative comments from others, it was my own self-confidence and self-esteem that was damaged by acne. During an outbreak (and that could just be the one mammoth cystic acne 'spot'), I would shy away from talking to those I didn't really know and trust. I'd try and hide my face with scarves or under my hair if I could. My hand would often be hovering over the affected area, in a bid to cover it from view. I'd avoid making new friendships or going to new clubs or places. I often felt ugly and worthless and wanted to hide away from the whole world!

I would cry my eyes out some mornings, upon waking to another monster Mount Vesuvius on my face. My mum would give me cold compresses or ice-cubes in a bid to try to reduce the angry swellings before school! I didn't want to be seen like that and on top of my appearance, the cysts and nodules were so painful they would give me bad, throbbing headaches. I've had swollen eyes and lips, and a bulbous nose as a result of some of the positions the spots were in. I'd often wake looking like I'd done 10 rounds in the boxing ring...and lost! And then have to find the motivation to get myself to school for round 11...

Coming of age

The Roaccutane (a specialist drug - see treatments further down) is what gave me my teenage years back, the first time I took it at the age of 17. By the age of 18, I had amazingly clear skin and not a blackhead in sight! I literally felt able to take on the world so I planned a year long gap year and headed off to Australia with my new found confidence and enthusiasm! The sunshine helped keep my skin clear and cyst free too but I had to be so careful in the sun because one of the drug's side effects is extreme sunlight-sensitivity, so I had to wear a high factor sun cream for a long time after taking it.

As I got older, I began to deal with my acne differently. I was 21 and at uni when I was prescribed my second dose of Roaccutane. I think a combination of poor diet, lots of alcohol, late nights and exam stress had aided this outbreak! But once again, the drug came to my rescue and I was more confident from the start. I knew this treatment had worked before so tried not to let it affect my self-confidence too much. I just played the waiting game until it cleared up again!

Long into adulthood

Now, I'm almost 34 and cystic acne has continued to plague me throughout my adult life. It has appeared on and off again over the years, and especially during and after both pregnancies when my hormones were all over the place. It settled both times after about 3 months post-baby, then came back again the minute my body realised I'd stopped breastfeeding! These hormones have a lot to answer for! Of course, the stress of having a baby and the lack of sleep didn't help either! 

More recently, I've been back to the doctors about my acne and was prescribed a 3 month course of an oral antibiotic to see it it settled this outbreak. I'm just coming to the end of the course now and it has definitely made a difference. I have my review next week so we will see then what the doctor suggests going forward. I'm aware of the risks of taking antibiotics, and becoming immune to them so I wonder if he'll suggest anything else?

Coming to terms with it

To be quite honest, I am totally sick of seeing these angry welts staring back at me from the mirror, and it still gets me down a bit every time. I'm a primary teacher now and well, children don't mince their words - they have very little tact at the age of 6! I try my best to disguise my spots when they appear but it's the massive lumps that are difficult to hide, and hard to explain to inquisitive children. Now, I try not to even think about what other adults might be thinking. I tend to try not to let the sideways glances get to me now, but hiding behind my hand is a hard habit to break sometimes! 
A mild break out this month, make-up free.
To others, the occasional spot is nothing more than a tiny inconvenience but to severe acne sufferers, it feels like much more. I will never have flawless skin, and many of my scars have faded over time. I'm lucky to be a woman in this respect as I can 'fix' this with make-up! I have come to terms with the fact that I will probably have outbreaks all the way throughout my adult years and learnt to look after my skin inside and out the best I can. I know now that having acne is not my fault (see causes further down the post) but that I can do things to help settle it and keep it at bay.
'Fixed' with make-up!
As an adult myself now, when I see someone with any kind of ailment, negative thoughts don't really cross my mind. Empathy, maybe, but not pity and never disgust. (I've been on the receiving end of both!) Whatever they have, it's part of them and why should we feel we need to comment or pass judgement? I hope that's what other people think when they see me. I just have to remember that I only have cystic acne; it can be managed, and it's not going to kill me or affect my life adversely anymore. Put it into perspective in the big wide world, and I'm lucky really that that's all I have to worry about!

Read on to find out what causes nodulocystic acne, and the treatments I have tried...

So what causes nodulocystic acne?

With mild or moderate acne, you get a spot when your pores (skin follicles) become blocked, usually with dead skin cells and a build up of natural oils. When bacteria gets trapped inside the pores, it can result in small red pimples or pustules on the surface of the skin.

Nodular or cystic acne (or a combination of the two) is when those blocked pores become infected deep within the epidermis (layers of skin). The pore ruptures under the skin causing inflammation to spread into the areas of skin surrounding it. 
Image credit: unknown
Unlike pimples or pustules, they don't come to a head on the surface of the skin and instead, form extremely painful lumps, that can't be 'popped.' In cystic acne, these pus-filled lumps can be slightly softer than the hard, stubborn lumps of nodular acne which stay intact under the skin. Both kinds of lump can linger for weeks or even months! And trust me, they are really painful and can even cause headaches!

Hormones and genetics are the major culprits of severe acne, so unfortunately if a family member suffered with this, you may do too. This is also why it can often be seen in women during their monthly cycles or as they go through hormonal changes during their lives. Stress can also be a contributing factor, as can lack of sleep! So no wonder mine came back during and after both pregnancies. No beautiful, pregnancy glow here - unless you count the Belisha beacon look?!

Poor diet, bad skin regime and lack of exercise are not the causes of nodulocystic acne! However, making sure you eat well, look after your skin with suitable products and stay reasonably fit will of course make you feel better from within, and does promote good overall health and well-being.


How can you treat nodulocystic acne?

Well, there are lots of things you can try to settle down the outbreaks. Over the years I'm pretty confident I've tried them all! At first, I was put on the contraceptive pill in a bid to control my adolescent hormones and lessen the secretions of sebum (oils) from the pores. 

At the time, I was also prescribed a topical treatment which had antibacterial and anti-inflammatory ingredients. For me, these didn't work so I was then prescribed a course of oral antibiotics. There are many you can try, and with my doctor's advice, we worked through a few types over the next 9 months or so. 

As with each treatment, you have to allow time for a build up in your system and for it to be effective. This can be a long and stressful process, because you are constantly living in hope that one day you'll notice a difference. For me, that didn't come from these tablets so I was eventually referred to a specialist dermatologist

This dermatologist changed my life! I was prescribe the "last resort" drug that is used to treat severe acne. Back then, when I was 17, it was called Roaccutane which contains the drug isotretinoin. It works by reducing the amount of natural oils secreted by your skin so blocked pores are less likely. It also kills the acne causing bacteria and relieves redness and soreness. This drug has some incredibly serious side effects (you can find them here on the NHS website) and you must be monitored regularly by doctors. You need to know all the risks involved before you start taking them so make sure you are well informed. 

There are other more natural remedies you can try, (and I have!) such as holding an ice-cube on the swellings, using oil-free and unscented face care products, use non-pore blocking make up (it does exist, you need to look out for 'non-comedogenic' on the labels), changing towels and pillowcases regularly and of course, maintaining a healthy balanced diet and exercise routine. 

Unfortunately, there is no one magic cure, and sometimes (as is the case with me) you can go a few weeks, months or even years being mostly acne-free after certain treatments, only for it to come back again and again later on in life.


My advice to you...

If you have troublesome acne of any kind, especially in adulthood, I urge you not to suffer but to go and see your doctor. Please be patient with any treatments you are given, allow them time to work. Be aware that your doctor may want you to try many different courses of action over a long period of time, before finding something that works or referring you to a specialist dermatologist. Look at your lifestyle, eating habits, sleeping patterns, make-up use, skin care and exercise routine. Can you tweak any of it to help yourself be healthier from the inside out? 

It is hard to be comfortable in your own skin when you have such a love-hate relationship with it, but I'm still learning! I hope my story has helped you to understand that acne is just a part of me, it no longer controls me or hinders me but makes me more determined to just get up and get on with it! After all, life is too short to hide away when the majority of people don't even notice or care anyway! And the people that love you the most, wont even see your flaws! To my children I am Mummy, spots or no spots. Their love is unconditional and it's what keeps me going on the bad days.

Finding joy in the little things: Sometimes it is tough to think of what little things bought you joy in a tough situation, but this is why I always add this part to the end of my posts. No matter how hard you think you've got it "in the moment," there is always someone who is having a tougher time. It is good to remember this.

Having a condition like nodulocystic acne this has taught me to be more confident in myself, not to let others bring me down and to rise above any unwanted or thoughtless comments. I have a thicker skin, and therefore no longer let the opinions of others upset or insult me. I am more resilient and I am empathetic to people who are suffering their own battles. I only hope that my children learn these qualities from me and grow up to be kind to others, always.

I am me; this is part of who I am and I am learning to love the skin I am in!






I'm linking up this post with these fabulous blogs:
Confessions of a New MummyJakiJellz 

Monday, 14 May 2018

The children love to feed the birds when we're out and about, so I decided to bring some of that excitement into our own garden. We chose to make some bird seed feeders to hang outside, to attract some birds into our back yard. They are really quick and easy to do, making it a simple activity for children of all ages to join in with. 
Here's how to make your own easy bird seed feeders!


1. Gather up all your equipment.


  • 1 or 2 blocks of lard (Dirt cheap from all major supermarkets)
  • Bird seed (We mixed two types together, but you could add oats and raisins)
  • Empty plastic containers (We used a variety of yoghurt/custard pots)
  • String
  • Scissors
  • A metal skewer or similar (For making a hole in each container)
  • A mixing bowl and spoon (We used plastic for safety reasons)
  • Something handy to wipe slimy hands on! (Lard is super greasy but lovely to squidge if you fancy getting your hands in there!)

2. Prepare your plastic containers.

Make a small hole in the middle of each container with the metal skewer. Make sure an adult does this part! 
Poke some string through the holes and tie with a knot on the inside. Make sure you don't pull the knot all the way to the top of the container - you want it  to run through the middle of your lard and seed mix.

3. Make your bird seed and lard mix.

You'll need your lard really soft, but not runny. We left ours out in the sun while we prepared all the other bits. 
Add your bird seed and mix until you have plenty of seeds and you can't see much of the fat any more. (A bit like making crispy cakes!) We used about two thirds of each bag pictured to one block of softened lard. It needs to be mould-able in case you want to roll it into fat balls.

4. Divide the mixture into your containers. 

You don't need to fill them to the top, but make sure you have the string running through all of it because if you don't, the mixture will just fall off the string! (We made this school boy error!)
Pop your filled  containers into your fridge overnight to solidify.

5. Cut open your containers to release your bird seed feeders!

Make sure an adult does this part. You can mould your feeders with your hands here if you like. We rolled ours in our palms to make them look like little balls! We also rolled them in the left over seeds we had, just before we hung them outside.

6. Hang your bird seed feeders and wait for your winged visitors!

Just don't do what we did and hang them eagerly on the hottest Bank Holiday Monday since records began! The fat balls just ended up sliding off the string onto the floor, much to the delight of the puppies! It was back to the fridge for a day or two for them, until the weather cooled! 

Tip: Some shop bought bird seed contains nuts and other allergens, so please check ingredients carefully if you have allergies. Or better still, make your own bird seed mix from other ingredients to ensure the safety of your children and yourself.

Finding joy in the little things: The children loved getting involved with this craft. They we so eager to hang their little bird treats and watch for visitors. The following morning, I heard squeals of excitement coming from my little boy's bedroom... 


Mummy, look! The birds are having their breakfast! Look! They like what we made them!

Both children were stood on top of the toy box, peering out the window at their first customers! It was a struggle to peel them away to get ready that morning. I'll definitely be making these easy bird seed feeders with the children again soon!



I'm linking up this post with these fabulous blogs:

Confessions of a New Mummy

Tuesday, 8 May 2018

Are you thinking about introducing a pet dog into your family home? Do you have young children too? 

If you're anything like me, I worried about having dogs and children together. Will I be able to trust the dog around my children? Will I manage the feeding/walking/toileting alongside our busy daily life with school runs, playgroups, housework, washing, cooking, a part-time job, etc? What are the benefits of having a pet dog around? Do they outweigh the negatives?
Well, we went for it and picked a dachshund or "sausage" dog to join our family! And as you may know, shortly after we ended up with two pups! We've had Dottie for 7 weeks now, and Martha for 3 weeks this Friday. It already feels like they have been with us for much longer and the children are absolutely head over heels in love with them both! 

For us, introducing these beautiful puppies into our family home has been totally the right decisionHere are some reasons why all the hard work has been worth it...


5 great ways my children benefit from having dogs 

1) Responsibility

The children are learning all about being responsible dog owners. They help with feeding the pups, cleaning them with doggy wet wipes and tidying up their toys at night, as they do their own. 

They understand that dogs need special care, like being taken for regular walks and they are becoming better at controlling the pups on the lead. Having these kind of shared responsibilities encourages co-operation and accountability.

2) Empathy

Empathy is being able to understand the feelings of anther person or animal, from their point of view. Having a pet dog is helping my young children to be empathetic, to treat the pups as they would like to be treated themselves. 

I hope that by caring for their dogs, the children will learn that all living things have feelings and that their actions will affect people or situations around them. They are learning the correct way to treat animals by watching us, and this will help them grow up to treat other living things with kindness, compassion and respect

3) Unconditional Love and Friendship

Both of the children are head over heels in love with the puppies! It's adorable to watch! There is already this bond of trust and companionship that has formed between them - all 4 of them play so nicely together and genuinely enjoy each other's company. 

Oxytocin is the "feel good" hormone, which is released when an owner cuddles or pets their dog, triggering feelings of unconditional love, bonding and protection. You can see this happening with my children and their puppies every day!
When my children are sad or hurt, I now hear cries of, "I want to cuddle Dottie," or "I want Martha to kiss it better." Dogs are always there to listen and not to judge, and it's so lovely that the children are learning to use this special friendship to make them feel good. 

4) Physical Health

Since having the puppies, both children are more active than they used to be. The dogs need at least a 30 minute walk every day. With the warmer weather and lighter nights, we are enjoying evening walks as a family. It also encourages us to get up earlier to walk to school so the pups can come too.

The puppies love the garden, and they are never still! This encourages my kids to be in the garden too, chasing the dogs around, throwing and fetching balls and the Frisbee. All 4 of them wear each other out! Even if the children aren't really feeling up to much, I'll still manage to get them outside for plenty of puppy playtime

In fact, an American study in 2010 found that children who owned dogs spent on average 11 more minutes being active every day, than those that didn't have a dog. That all adds up!

5) Happiness

Well, how can I put this? The puppies make my children insanely happy! They can't wait to go downstairs to greet them every morning and give them cuddles and attention! You can tell by the excessive tail wagging that the feeling is mutual!
Interacting with your pet has been proven to help raise dopamine and serotonin (the happy hormone) levels, causing that warm, fuzzy, happy feeling! This probably explains the giggly giddiness I see in my kids when they are around the puppies! 

Having a dog can also reduce stress, loneliness and anxiety. What other benefits could you possibly need for your children?

Things to consider

If you're thinking about getting a dog, make sure you consider your lifestyle. Puppies need a lot of love, care and attention. Can you provide this? 

Also, research the breed and its needs. Having a dog with a good temperament and gentle nature is really important around young children. Talk to the breeder about the puppy's personality, as each puppy in the litter is different!

And remember, a dog is still an animal - never leave your young children alone with them! Learn to read the signs of certain dog behaviours and watch their interactions together. This ensures the safety of both your children and your dog; you never know what might happen in a split second. It's not worth the risk! 

You can read all about our puppies, their personalities, likes and dislikes in our post introducing the dachshund pups
Good luck to all of you who take the plunge! I'd love to know what puppy you get and how you're getting on in the comments below!

Finding joy in the little things: To be honest, all the little things I've mentioned above are what makes the hard work of having puppies worth it! There are so many more benefits to having dogs for children that I haven't written about, and some of those above I hadn't really considered properly before having dogs. 

In a nutshell, my kids love the bones of those dogs (no pun intended)! They absolutely adore them, and the feeling is mutual. I can now totally appreciate why a dog is a man's best friend. I can see it in action every day. I hope this bond continues to strengthen as the puppies and my children grow up together.





I have linked up this post with these fabulous blogs:


  Confessions of a New MummyThe Mummy Bubble

Tuesday, 1 May 2018

I thought it was about time that I formally introduced you to the two new members of our family, Dottie and Martha the dachshund puppies! Yes, I did just say two! In all my posts to date, I've only mentioned Dottie as she was the first to arrive mid March, when she was 8 weeks old! Two weeks ago, we picked up Martha as a companion for Dottie, she's only 1 day younger! Here's a little bit about them now they're 14 weeks old...

Dottie

  • Dottie is a miniature smooth haired chocolate and tan dapple. 
  • She is petite, probably because she can not stay still for more than 2 minutes! 
  • She is playful and constantly looking for someone or something to amuse her! 
  • Dottie is wilful and stubborn; if she doesn't want to sit and snuggle, there's no chance of making her! 
  • She loves cooked chicken and raw mince. Good luck to anyone who gives her kibble without an addition of meat - it won't get eaten unless she's really hungry! 


  • When Dottie first arrived, and until Martha came along, Dottie went to bed with a hot water bottle in a furry case every night. If she didn't have it, the whole house would know about it! 
  • Dottie also likes the radio on at night - we put Classic FM on for her because it calms her down...trust me! We accidentally left Radio One on one night not realising it was rock night! Turns out she's not into that!
  • Dottie is confident and brave. She didn't take long to get used to the sights and sounds of the big outdoors and enjoys being out on the lead. 
  • She is nosy and friendly, but she'll make it known with a little growl if she wants you to back off.
  • Dottie loves socks - Rosie is her prime target! Poor kid rarely escapes a day without having her socks expertly whipped off by this pup!
  • Like most girls, she's already in to shoes - pinching them and chewing them!


Martha

  • Martha is a miniature smooth black and tan.
  • She is chunkier than Dottie, on account of pinching the leftovers of her siblings whenever she saw her chance! We are combating this by feeding the pups separately at every meal time! 
  • Martha is lazy and super chilled! She would rather be curled up in her bed or on your lap than playing with her toys!
  • She is loving and cuddly, and loves to snuggle up with you on the sofa in the evening.
  • This pup also loves roast chicken, but she'll happily wolf down anything you put in front of her...or in front of anyone else if you're not quick enough!


  • Martha loves to spoon with Dottie at bedtime. She has shared a bed since her first night with us, despite being offered her own space. She also sleeps better with a nightlight!
  • Martha is not yet as confident with the great outdoors as Dottie is. She is frightened of loud noises, and lies down when traffic passes which is a bit of a pain when walking by the main road! Although it tends to give passers by a bit of a giggle!
  • Martha is also friendly but prefers the company of humans (or Dottie) and shows little interest in other dogs at the moment. She's a bit of a wimp when meeting strange dogs on her walks!
  • She is the whiny one of the pair! If Martha can hear you upstairs, she'll whimper and whine and sit by the door like a needy toddler!
  • Martha loves a squeaky toy. She'll often bite and chew until she finds the squeaker and won't give up until she's tired!
  • She loves to dig and tunnel - They don't call them badger dogs for nothing!

Despite their differences in stature and character, it's fair to say that the puppies have already become great friends! They are only a day apart in age which is helpful to us because they are both learning the same skills together. Where one falters, the other thrives so they bring the best (and sometimes worst) out in each other! 

I was sceptical at first about having one puppy, let alone two but I have to say, bringing Martha into our home as a companion for Dottie has been the best decision all round. The pups are never alone, they have one another when we're out and they really seem to love each other's company...as do we!

I'm sure Dottie and Martha will be featuring in many of our adventures - We hope you enjoy watching them learn, grow and get into mischief!

Finding joy in the little things: Hearing Stanley whisper to the puppies, "I love you so, so, so, so much doggies," every night is the most heartwarming, adorable thing I've heard him say! He is besotted with them both, and just wants to have them with him, on his lap or by his side all the time! His face was a picture when we turned up with Martha after school one day...he couldn't quite believe we were allowed to keep her too! Dogs really are man's best friend, or in this case, a 4 year old boy's! 

Look out for our upcoming post on the benefits of having dogs and children.





I'm linking up this post with these fabulous blogs!

 Tactical Tuesday at Joanna Victoria

Sunday, 29 April 2018

It was the last week day of the Easter holidays, it was wet and cold and we didn't have any plans. So after a morning playing at home, I decided to treat the children to a lunch with a difference! Off we went to one of our favourite local places for a sweet treat, Oceans Coffee and Waffle House, situated in picturesque Cheddleton in the Staffordshire Moorlands.

Oceans was only opened in February 2017 by businessman and Castros Restaurant owner, Jamie Bateman, after he noticed a gap in the market. It already has a legion of fans! I remember the "wafflemania" that surrounded its opening and its first few weeks, and I loved seeing all their updates and unique creations on social media! 

So as a mum who loves all things cake related, it would only be fair to inflict my sweet-tooth upon the children! We've been a few times and I'm still working my way through their menu, so I thought I'd let you all know a bit about our latest visit.
We arrived to find plenty of parking in the purpose built car park right next to Oceans and Castros. It's always a relief when you find a space, because a full car park usually means a busy waffle house and a wait to find a seat! On a drizzly day like today, we didn't fancy sitting in the outside seating area, although the views of the Caldon canal are fab!

As soon as we entered, we were greeted with a smile and an offer of help to find a table. It was half term and there were a lot of people in, but in preparation for this, the staff had opened up some overflow seating in Castros across the hallway. We actually didn't mind sitting in here as it meant the kids could watch out for any canal boats go by. None did...but it kept their attention anyway! 

Now to choose what waffle to eat! There are plenty to choose from on the menu, such as The Elvis (think peanut heaven), The Campfire (popcorn, toffee, toasted marshmallows...), The American (bacon and maple syrup) and The Skinny (Greek yogurt and berries). Stanley and Rosie decided on The Oreo - vanilla and chocolate ice cream, whipped cream, crumbled Oreos and chocolate sauce! Needless to say, this was one they were sharing! 
If you don't fancy a waffle, there are so many other delicious items on offer such as paninis, pizza breads, jacket potatoes, sausage rolls, pies, salads and baguettes.They have a daily specials board too which usually has a hot meal of some sort, a vegetarian option and a soup. If you want to test out your sweet-tooth, there is a selection of sweet items too, like muffins and brownies and there are also gluten free choices. In fact, Oceans offer gluten free waffles (made in a separate waffle machine) and dairy free ice-cream, so almost everyone is catered for!
I opted for a ham and cheese panini with nachos, coleslaw and side salad. The homemade coleslaw was so creamy, and the panini was not short on fillings, like you find in some places. I didn't have a waffle this time because I knew I'd be needed to help out the kids with theirs! 
As you can see, we all enjoyed the waffle between us! The mixture they make always turns out so light and fluffy, and although they are extremely filling, they don't feel heavy in your stomach! However, if you're going for lunch don't be fooled into thinking that the waffle will be for pud! We always have the waffle for our main lunch dish and never have space for much more! If you are a hungry person though, knock yourselves out by making any waffle a double - a 2 waffle stack! You can wash all your goodies down with a large variety of hot and cold drinks or even a special milkshake.
Nothing was too much trouble for the friendly, helpful staff. We needed a highchair and someone gladly fetched one for us. I forgot to pick up cutlery at the till so someone offered to go and get us some so I didn't have to leave the kids at the table. I forgot my baby wipes (argh...total panic!) and Rosie was wearing most of her ice-cream on her chin! Grabbing us extra napkins was no trouble to the young girl that noticed her sticky face. 

We always enjoy our visits to Oceans! I actually think the prices are reasonable and in line with local competition. If you treat your waffle dish as an average lunch dish that you may get in a cafe, the prices are very similar. It's not the cheapest place to go for coffee and cake if that's what you're after, although there are cheaper options available if you don't want a waffle. But why go to a waffle house if that's not what you want?! 
We're very excited to see the new upstairs seating when it is built. It will be fab to have more indoor seating options for the colder days. In the warmer months, it is so pleasant sitting outside by the canal watching out for boats and wildlife. Dogs are welcome outside too which is great for any passing dog walkers - a good excuse for us to take Dottie the Dachshund for a walk by the Caldon canal!
I took the children for a little wander up to see the locks and walk off our lunch before the rain started again and we had to go home. Oceans Coffee and Waffle House really is one of our favourite places to go for a yummy treat! It was a lovely end to our week together, just the three of us.

Where is your favourite place to go out for a treat? 

Finding joy in the little things: Both children fell asleep in the car on the way home! Although this meant a later bedtime was probably on the cards, I didn't mind as it meant I got a little quiet time to myself when we got back. This almost never happens anymore so I treated myself to a hot cuppa in peace while the children snoozed together on the sofa. This might not seem like much to some, but in the chaos of a normal day I often forget to find any time to call my own. I know many of you can relate. Sometimes silence really is golden! 

How do you spend your stolen quiet moments? I'd love to know!






**Disclaimer: All opinions in this post are my own. We visited unannounced, paid for our own food and drink and decided to review the venue when we got home!**