Back in June I was one of the chosen winners of the Blackpool Ambassador competition with Tots100 and Visit Blackpool.

We’ve been to Blackpool several times before but I’ve never stayed overnight until now. I was really excited to hear that we would be staying at the beautiful Brek Apartments. Also included in the prize were Resort Passes for all the family.

The Brek Apartments are about 3 miles out from the seaside of Blackpool. The train station is just across the road and the bus stops outside. Great for us as we do not have our own transport. We arrived at 1.30pm in the lovely village of Poulton-Le-Fylde and were able to drop our cases off at the Brek Apartment office until they were ready for us to enter our apartment. We had time to go into Blackpool but Star was having a wobble about going back on the train and we didn’t want a meltdown so we took the time to explore Poulton-Le-Fylde.

Our apartment was beautifully luxurious and the girls loved the idea of the bedrooms being downstairs while the living area was up in the loft. I thought that black and silver would be a manly colour scheme but it really wasn’t, it was very welcoming. In fact I fell in love with the silvery wallpaper in the living room as well as the gorgeous light fitting. The beds were cosy and there were plenty of bedclothes. The bathroom hosted a jacuzzi bath and a separate shower cubicle.

on our first evening we were treated to a trip to the Tower Circus. Something else very new to me as I’ve not been to a circus before. We couldn’t take photo’s inside so I’ve borrowed some from the website. It was a truly entertaining evening, even the Little Man who normally can’t sit still for five minutes was totally mesmerised. We all loved Mr BooBoo and Mookey who entertained us between acts. We were treated to some really thrilling acts which culminated in a spectacular water feature. It was my favourite part of the trip.

The next morning we were up bright and early to take advantage of our resort passes. These represent great value for money and can be used in nine attractions in Blackpool.

  • Blackpool Pleasure Beach
  • Nickolodeon Land
  • Blackpool Tower Eye
  • Blackpool Dungeon
  • Sea Life Blackpool
  • Madam Tussauds
  • Blackpool Zoo
  • Blackpool Model village
  • Sandcastle Waterpark
We had to rule out the Pleasure Beach, Nickolodeon Land and Waterpark because of Star’s neck. Star was afraid to go to the top of the tower and both girls were scared of the Dungeon. We still had loads to choose from though.
First up was Blackpool Zoo. We bought a bus pass from the local shop for just £9 which covered us all for the whole day. The zoo is really big and there is something going on all the time. We managed time to see the talk about the elephants because that’s what Star wanted to see most. Boo loved the giraffes and penguins and the little man could relate to the cheeky monkeys.
We had hoped to visit the Model Village after the zoo but Star can only walk for a certain amount of time and she was getting tired, so we took the bus back to Blackpool. 
Next up we visited the Sea Life centre. The girls enjoyed feeling a star fish and loved the rays and sea horses. Boo was a little scared of the big sharks they have there. Thanks to the film, Finding Nemo, the girls were most excited by finding the tanks of Nemos and Dorys!

We were feeling tired by now but Madam Tussauds was close by so we went in there. I’m so glad we did because everyone enjoyed the experience, even the Little Man (who had missed the entire sea life centre as he was asleep in his buggy.) They have some really great celebrities in there and the girls were amazed at how life like they were. How many celebs can you spot in my little collage? 

By the time we left it was early evening but it was still warm and sunny so we crossed the road and let the littlies play on the beach for a while.

On the evening we went to the Tower Ballroom for a meal but all they had were hot dogs. We were a bit disappointed as it had been such a busy day and we were looking forward to some nice food. There was some mix-up and everyone was in a bit of tiz because The Script had pulled out of turning on Blackpool Illuminations. Well, they got Gary Barlow instead, a good swap I’d say. (ahem, showing my age now)
Of course I can’t leave you without some photo’s of the amazing Blackpool Tower in the evening.
Our trip to Blackpool was a prize offered by Visit Blackpool in a competition run by Tots100. All thoughts and opinions are my own. I would like to thank Beth for arranging everything for us, and the very lovely Sarah and Darren at Brek Apartments. 

Country Kids from Coombe Mill Family Farm Holidays Cornwall

Update on Stars Neck

It’s been almost five weeks since Star hurt her neck. To me I see no improvement at all and she is still in pain. The hospital decided against intervention such as traction or manipulation and I’m glad because it would have been so distressing for her. However, I’m really concerned that she’s not improving.

Today we went back to the hospital, we’ve been going weekly since she came home. She saw a dr that we have not seen before, he looked at her for about five seconds and then said ok, we’ll see her in 6 weeks. He didn’t even ask if she felt any better or if I had any concerns.

Next we went to see the orthotics nurse who fitted her with a new collar. This one is a torticollis collar and is meant to correct the neck back into it’s normal position. It doesn’t. Within half hour of wearing it Stars neck was bending right down again and she’d slipped right out of the support. Now if she sits up straight she can stay in the support, but she’s 8 years old and there is no way I can keep her sitting straight all day.

Her old collar gave her support but it wasn’t correcting her neck. Five times a day we have been removing the collar and doing physio with her. It hurts her, but mostly because the collar is causing her neck to be stiff. That’s why we have to keep exercising.

After the collar fitting we went to see the physiotherapist who was the most concerned of everyone we saw today. She doesn’t see much improvement either and is worried that the new collar is not suitable for Star. She has told me to give it a try but to call her if I am worried. We go back for physiotherapy every week until Star is well again. It may be some time.

The bus journey home reminded me of the time before she had the first collar, she cried in pain at every bump, break and corner. I’ll definitely be using her old collar for journeys in the future.

Tonight for the first time in over a week I had to give her codeine at bedtime to ease her pain. She’d had paracetamol earlier but it didn’t help. The codeine works but now she’ll be nauseous in the morning.

Soon Star will be going back to school. A new school in a new area with none of her friends there to support her. I am so worried for her.

Hearts and Minds for Autism

Today I’d like to tell you about a fantastic charity, Hearts and Minds.

Hearts And Minds Challenge is a young dynamic, innovative and passionate organisation formed in 2010 which is bringing positive change into the lives of those affected by autism. We are putting together a range of services which includes awareness raising,  education support, advocacy, counselling,  transition planning and advice for families upon receiving diagnosis as well as our Facebook support group. Our Mission is to raise the quality of life of individuals and their families affected by autism by ensuring the highest standards in education, care and support leading to employment and equality of living opportunities. We are currently running a fundraising campaign to raise £1 million so we can open a Centre of Education for Autism

Yes, they are planning a new school in Manchester which specialises in education for autistic children, how wonderful. If this happens, and I’m sure it will, then hopefully there will be more schools set up around the country. As a mother of two autistic children I am fully aware of how difficult it is for them in the current school system. Mainstream school can be a difficult and scary place for a child with autism, but then they can be out of place in a special school. I know that neither of my two children have special educational needs, the needs of an autistic child can be varied and different to any other disability and schools find it difficult to meet their needs.

Hearts and Minds are fundraising by asking for donations and setting up special events. There is another way that you can get involved though and that is by collecting old mobile phones. You can find all the details on their phone challenge site. By collecting old mobiles you can also be rewarded with gifts like ipads and laptops. Anyone can collect phones for these, you do not have to have an autistic child. The collections can also be made by schools.

I recently took part in the challenge to collect old mobiles and traded them in for a shiny new laptop for Star. It arrived just as she was admitted to hospital so she had something to smile about at least.

 After we have moved house I’m going to start collecting again to help this fantastic charity and I do hope that my post has inspired you to do the same.

Do spend a moment to check out Hearts and Minds on Facebook and  as @handmchallenge on Twitter too.

I’m linking this post to Pink Oddy’s Motivational Monday whose topic is education. A school for autism is a fantastic idea and I hope Heart and Minds are able to reach their goal.

Motivational Monday

Back To School – Review

It’s that time of year again, everyone is thinking of going back to school. We have a bit of a predicament this year as we still don’t have a school for the girls to go to. I am forever hopeful that things will come together once we have moved house and I’ve been to see the schools myself. I already know that there will be places for Star and the Little Man has lots of nurseries to choose from. I just need to find a place for Boo but that hopefully won’t take long (fingers tightly crossed)

I’ve normally got everything I need for the return to school by now but as things are so different this year I was so grateful to receive a whole parcel of back to school stuff from The West Orchards shopping center in Coventry.

West Orchards opened in Coventry City Center in 1991 and has over 40 retail outlets which offer a wide choice of both major high street names and independent outlets. They boast a food court with over 700 seats, and a big car park. They are open 7 days a week and are perfect for your one stop shopping experience.

For my back to school items I received a lovely pack of two kilt skirts from Debenhams. They are a great bargain at just £8 for the pack and fit Boo, aged 6 yrs, perfectly.

The blouses were a pack of two short sleeved from Marks and Spencers, at just £4 also a bargain.

Here is Boo, looking very nice. The clothes were a great fit and she was very happy with them. The skirts have adjustable waistbands too.

Star received a selection of bramble wood stationary from WH Smith. She recieved a Bramble Wood  Pencil Case (£8.99) which is filled with coloured pencils, felt tip pens, pen, pencil, ruler, rubber and pencil sharpener. She also received a Bramble Wood A4 Project Book (£4.79) and a Bramble Wood 12 part organiser (£5.59) A lovely design that she will be happy to use for her school projects.

Finally, the Little Man received a lovely Angry Birds lunch box (£6.99) and a matching aluminium sports bottle (£3.99) also from WH Smith.

So whatever you need for your back to school shopping it’s always a bonus if you can get it all under one roof, with easy parking all the necessary facilities and even a wide range of places to grab some lunch.

This is My Child, This is My Star

I am writing this post for the Mumsnet #Thisismychild campaign to raise awareness about the issues facing parents whose children have special needs, and myths about disabilities.

This is my child, This is Star.

It is her eighth birthday today and here she is stuffing her face with pizza. We had considered a birthday party for her but with her birthday being in the summer holidays she rarely gets anyone turn up anyway. We did send out invitations but only one friend replied. So we treated her to pizza and ice-cream at Pizza Hut and then a trip to the Build a Bear shop for a brand new bear. She said it was her best birthday ever.
I say that she doesn’t have children turn up on her birthday because it’s in the middle of the school holidays and that is probably true, but also probably true is that she doesn’t really have friends. She finds it difficult to relate to her peers, she is immature and lacks social understanding. This is because last year she was diagnosed with high functioning autism. She can talk and walk and do most things other children can but she also does things that children her age don’t do, like flap and spin, talk about things no-one really understands, makes noises, and almost always has something in her mouth, in the picture above it’s pizza but usually it’s her fingers or her clothing, or even her toes if she’s lying down watching tv!
 She doesn’t like flashing lights and cannot bear strong smells or some textures
She doesn’t sleep properly, she gets upset at changes to routine, she has poor bowel control and finds it difficult to empathise with others. 
Sometimes she refuses to speak to people.
Sometimes you can’t shut her up.
I don’t know what the future holds for Star but she does have an older brother with similar symptoms and I know life hasn’t been easy for him or me. At eight she is entering the realm of her peers realising she is different, if they haven’t already.
As well as the autism Star also has Hypermobility Syndrome which means her joints are very flexible and cause her pain. She has suffered with joint pain since she was born, only we didn’t know what it was at first. At one point the doctors thought it might be juvenile arthritis, but then she was diagnosed with hypermobility, and because of the pain hypermobility syndrome. She is now waiting to see if she has type three of the syndrome which is the genetic form. She has a lot of pointers so I think that she possible does have it. This could have further complications for her future.
Recently Star managed to damage her neck. One of the discs has rotated causing her neck to bend to one side. She was admitted to hospital but they had trouble finding a suitable cure at first but now we are going with a neck brace and regular physiotherapy. It could take months to be corrected. It could happen again in any of her joints.
Star is an amazing little girl, she is very rarely naughty, doesn’t like making a mess and is able to occupy herself for long periods. She is very loving, although the cuddles and kisses have to be initiated by her, they do come sometimes. She is also very bright and can read and write with no problems and has a great imagination. She has a very logical way of thinking which can be both useful and a hindrance depending on the situation. 
She has a very special relationship with all her siblings (apart from the Little Man, who she has difficulty with probably because he is so young) She can be a bit bossy with Boo, her slightly younger sister, but they have a friendship that will see them through life. 

A little Note About Positive Reviews on Raisie Bay

A little Note About Positive Reviews on Raisie Bay

Some people only write reviews when things go wrong with products, which is good because it lets people know that there could be potential problems. I’ve also seen negative feedback with say things like, I had to return this item because the colour did not suit me…is this useful?

I write reviews on most items I buy because I like to give genuine feedback. If I have a genuine problem with a product I will write my review in the appropriate place.

I write reviews on my blog too, but they are mostly positive. Why? Because I only write reviews for the things I’ve loved. If I don’t love them I let the person who sent me them know with details why and then let them decided if they would rather me write a negative review or not write one at all. It’s always the latter.

This is my blog, my place and I’ll let you know about the things I love. If you want to find out what other people have hated about the product then you will need to look elsewhere.

My reviews may all be positive, but they are still genuine.