Sunday, 31 July 2016

My Sunday Photo - Carnival Time in Teignmouth | SeasideBelle

Summer means lots of things: sunshine, holidays, ice cream, buckets and spades at the beach and, one of my favourites, carnival time. And this week was carnival week in Teignmouth culminating in the procession of floats through town on Thursday night.

And, more excitingly for me, one of my best friends from university is down visiting at the moment, so we were able to meet up with her family for a long overdue catch up.

I love this photo because it reminds me of a picture taken of me when I was a similar age, sat on the side of the road with my sisters and cousins when we were on holiday in Fowey, Cornwall, waiting for a carnival procession.

This photo features Elliot, looking really happy (we were on the pavement next to his friend from school), Beatrix excitedly pointing down the road to where the procession would come, Wilfred, who has been hiding from most attempts at photography all summer, trying to decide whether to do a runner or not, and my friend's daughter full of anticipation.

Carnivals really are the stuff of summer memories.

Four children sitting on the curb waiting for the Teignmouth Carnival procession


Saturday, 30 July 2016

Why it's important to schedule time with each child

Life in a larger family can be full on. And, while there are many advantages to having multiple siblings - there's always someone to play with and there's always something going on - sometimes, there are downsides too. In particular, managing to spend quality, one-to-one parent/child time can often be difficult - especially when there is a demanding baby in the picture.

When we first expanded our family from one to two children and then to three, we made a conscious effort to ensure the older siblings were not left out by the new arrivals and we often scheduled time where one parent could spend time with one child. However, by the time number four came along, finding alone time to allocate to each child proved more difficult and our good intentions got lost in the fog of sleep deprivation and survival mode.

But, actually, spending quality time with just one child at a time is really important. It helps you get to know them as a person rather than as part of the wider family unit and it really cements the parent/child bond.

So, as we organised our summer holiday childcare, we realised there was an ideal spot for Beatrix to spend a day with her mummy. I wanted it to be a day all about her, so I asked how she wanted to spend our day together after we had dropped Elliot at his Junior Grecians Day with Exeter City Football Club.

Beatrix chose to go to the cinema, followed by a shopping trip to find some bits for her birthday party bags and a present and card for her friend's birthday party this weekend. It was obviously a special day for her as she chose to wear one of her best outfits: her Anna princess dress combined with a rather fetching royal cloak from the dressing up box.

After dropping Elliot at the Exeter City training ground we headed into Exeter and went straight to the cinema to see what was on. Luckily, we arrived shortly before the Mini Mornings showing and we were able to go straight in to see Kung Fu Panda 3 (we were under strict instructions from Elliot NOT to see The BFG or Angry Birds as he didn't want to miss out). After the film we wandered up to the shops. We enjoyed a lovely mooch around John Lewis where we hunted for possible birthday present ideas for her before wandering to Card Factory and then went on to Smiggle, where we bought a basketball hoop set for her friend.

By this point, we were getting hungry so we visited the Boston Tea Party for lunch. Bea had beans on toast, chocolate milkshake and a cake and I had the crushed avocado with hummus and poached eggs on organic pumpernickel rye with an iced fruity tea. While we waited for our food, Bea raided the children's book table and food a Biff, Chip and Kipper story to read to me.

Once we had refuelled, we headed to Tiger and Poundland where we got lots of lovely bits for her party bags before heading back to get Exeter.

At nearly six years old, Bea is now incredibly independent and really knows her own mind, so it was lovely to be able to have the time to listen to her ideas and thoughts. I made a conscious decision to allow her to dictate what we did and, although I made suggestions about the shops we visited, it was ultimately up to her whether or not we actually did. I also made sure we were looking for and buying things for her, rather than me: after all, this was her day, not mine. My job was to be there, listening to her, valuing her and reminding her how important she is to me.

We had a brilliant day and I've remembered how important it is to put time aside to focus on each child as an individual. The next job is to pencil in dates with Elliot and Wilf before scheduling another date with my daughter.

How do you find time to focus on one of your children and what do you get up to?

Sunday, 17 July 2016

My Sunday Photo | 17th July 2016

This week's Sunday Photo was taken yesterday when we had lunch at Pizza Express.

Along with the children's menus and activity sheets, we were given some chef-style, paper hats. We had great fun trying the hats on. And Ossie had a great time joining in the fun even though the hats were a bit big for him. This turned into a little game of peek-a-boo as the hat kept covering his eyes. Inevitably, with Ossie grabbing the paper hat to remove it from his eyes to see everyone else, it ripped slightly.

I love his expression here: surprised that he can now see everybody, even though the hat is on his head, and slight disdain about the game now that it is no longer quite as much fun.


Saturday, 16 July 2016

The Siblings Project | July 2016

I haven't taken part in The Siblings Project, run by Dear Beautiful, for a long time. It's pretty difficult to capture all four of mine in one photo, so often the date for the linky whizzes by and I realise I don't have a pic for that month.

However, last weekend I had the four to myself as Mr B was away for the weekend and I finally managed to capture all four.

The circus was in town so we booked tickets to the afternoon show on the Saturday, not least because it gave us an incentive to actually get out of the house and do something exciting.

Siblings excited before the circus

This photo was taken when we arrived outside the Big Top. The weather was actually a lot warmer than it looks in this photo, which is why they all look a bit grumpy - they're actually squinting in the light!

Bea decided to dress as Anna for the day - simply because she likes Frozen. She is going through a real dress phase at the moment.

I love the way Elliot (on the right) has his hand gently touching Wilf. He is a fantastic big brother and very caring and protective to his younger siblings.

I was very lucky to get this photo of Wilf. He tends to avoid having his picture taken, if at all possible. He can be very reserved and normally has a hundred other things he'd rather be doing. However, since turning four a couple of weeks ago, he really seems to have grown in confidence and he's allowing more people to see his real character.

Ossie is slumped in his pushchair because he's a bit tired. I had hoped he'd drop off on the way down to the circus, but instead he had a snooze during the performance.

The show was really good fun. It lasted for about an hour and a half and included: magic; tight rope walkers; juggling with fire, balls and a drum set; acrobatics on high ropes; and  a clown - the favourite with my lot.

It's lovely to have a record of all the siblings together. I'm going to make a real effort to take more photos this month so I can join in The Siblings Project linky next month.

The Me and Mine Project

Wednesday, 13 July 2016

How to make a Star Wars AT-AT birthday cake | Seaside Belle

We recently celebrated Wilf's 4th birthday. When I asked him what sort of birthday cake he would like, he requested a Star Wars AT-AT cake. To be honest, I was hoping for something easier, maybe even something I might be able to buy from a shop. But, always up for a challenge, I went for it.

Normally, I would visit Pinterest for inspiration and a template. Sadly, when I searched for Star Wars AT-AT cakes for something to copy, I was out of luck.

Instead, I managed to find some picture of AT-ATs to use as a guide.

I have to admit, I was slightly overwhelmed by the task at hand. How would I manage to make the bulk of the cake stand on four, rather thin legs. But then I had an epiphany: I would create a lying down AT-AT.

Here's how I made it.
Title image How To Make A Star Wars AT-AT cake


For the cake:
  • 260g softened butter (I didn't have enough butter in the dish, so I had to use a pack straight from the fridge)
  • 360g caster sugar
  • 6 lightly beaten eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 240g self raising flour
  • 100g cocoa (except, I didn't have any cocoa so I used chocolate milkshake powder)
For the icing:
  • 250g softened butter
  • 500g icing sugar
  • 500g ready to roll white icing
  • Several drops of black food colouring


  • Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C and grease and line a deep 23cm cake tin
  • Put the butter and sugar into a large mixing bowl and mix until light and fluffy. Things started going a little bit wrong at this point as my electric mixer gave up the ghost, so I had to finish it off by hand.
  • Add the beaten eggs, a little at a time, with a spoonful of the flour.
  • When all the eggs and some of the flour are mixed in, add the vanilla extract and stir in the remaining flour and cocoa powder (chocolate milkshake powder). Stir until the mixture is smooth and lump-free.
  • Put the mixture into the cake tin and bake in the oven for 1 hour.
  • Once the cake is cooked - I used a skewer to check it was cooked through and ended up baking it for another 20 minutes as it wasn't quite done - turn it out onto a wire rack and allow it to completely cool.
  • Cut the cake in half. One semi-circle will be the body of the AT-AT. Then slide two thin rectangles from the remaining semi-circle to make the legs. The remaining small semi-circle will make the head. Slice another thin rectangle to make the guns sticking out the front.
    The AT-AT cake takes shape
  • Mix the softened butter and around three quarters of the icing sugar to make a smooth butter icing. Then spread the butter icing all over the cake: this is the glue to make the ready to roll icing stick.
  • Add a few drops of black food colouring to the ready to roll icing and knead until you have the desired grey colour.
  • Sprinkle some icing sugar onto a clean surface and roll out the grey icing so it will cover your AT-AT, then smooth the icing over the cake and cut around the shape.
  • Roll out the remaining icing and use a round cookie cutter to make the joints
  • To add further details to the AT-AT, I then used a cocktail stick and the black food colouring.
Wilf blows out the candles on his Star Wars AT-AT cake

It's not the most perfect cake in the world - none of mine are - but it was at least recognisable as an AT-AT. I'd love to see your versions.
Tasty Tuesdays on

Tuesday, 5 July 2016

What I won in June | Journey of a Comper

Things have been very quiet on the competition front in recent months. I've been through a bit of a dry spell - although that could be something to do with the fact that I probably haven't been entering quite as many competitions as usual.

However, in June, my luck turned and I won TWO competitions. The first was a competition over on the Surfer Dad blog to win a hand screen printed t-shirt from the Atlantic Surf Company. I found out I won the competition just before Father's Day so I decided to treat my husband to the prize. The t-shirt is really soft and the perfect colour and fit. He is really pleased with it - and if he's happy, then I'm very happy!

My husband wearing his blue Atlantic Surf Co t-shirt
Here's the hubby sporting his Atlantic Surf Co t-shirt

Then, at the end of June, I went to the BritMums Live blogging conference #BML16. There were lots of brands at the event and most were running competitions involving selfies and hashtags. I was lucky enough to win the competition being run by DC Thomson, who publish magazines including The Official Jacqueline Wilson Mag, Animals and You and The Twirlywoos

SeasideBelle selfie with Noddy
My winning selfie with Noddy

I found out that I had won the competition on Wilf's 4th birthday. And he's really looking forward to receiving his six month subscription to Noddy Magazine

Elliot already has a magazine subscription to Match of the Day and he gets really excited when Tuesday comes around because that means his magazine will be arriving. I then don't see him for at least an hour as he devours the latest football news. I hope Wilfred gets as much pleasure from his subscription - both the magazine's arrival and its content.

What have you won recently?

Sunday, 3 July 2016

My Sunday Photo

I've decided to reflect each week by joining I with the My Sunday Photo project.

The last seven days have been pretty hectic: Wilf celebrated his 4th birthday; we received the children's school reports; Ossie is practicing his new-found skill of walking; and Elliot performed with the school choir at the local Flower Festival. 

On Wednesday we went up to school for the annual music concert. Both Elliot and Beatrix are learning to play the piano and this was Bea's first public recital. 

At home she sings along when she practices, but when she stepped up to the front, she suddenly became a little over-awed by the occasion. Despite her nerves, she just sat down and played her piece (without singing along) and the practicing paid off - she was flawless. I was so proud of her. 

She was the youngest performer and she really stepped up to the mark, overcame her fears and just got on with it - I'm sure I could learn a lesson from that!