Wednesday, 17 April 2019

Get More for Less this Bank Holiday



We're long overdue a  bank holiday and, with a rush of them all about to come at once, everyone's looking for smart ways to make the day count. But don’t worry, we’ve come up with some brilliant ideas to please different age groups - and fortunately these won’t cost you a fortune.

1. Get Outdoors.
From hunting for bugs to exploring historic mansions there are plenty of adventures to be had with the National Trust. And, if you enjoy your day out don't forget that you can purchase an annual membership card which will grant you access to over 500 sites across the country.




2. Hit the Museums
Tear the kids away from the TV and take them on a museum trip instead. The National History Museum in London will get their imaginations running wild. If the sun is shining make a day of it and pack a picnic to enjoy in the museum's gardens too.




3. Theme Park Ahoy!
Gulliver’s World is a brilliant, fun filled day out for all the family. With three UK parks - Milton Keynes, Warrington and Matlock Baths - and a whole host of rides to try out at just £24.95 a ticket, or £4.95 for children smaller than 90cms, it's well worth the money.


4. Let Battle Commence
If knights and battles are your thing, English Heritage is running some brilliant Adventure Quests at their historic sites across the UK. Make a shield, take part in drawing competitions and try your hand with a sword.


5. Bake Off!
Feeling brave?  If the weather’s rubbish, why not let the (older) kids loose in the kitchen to host their own bake off competition. Introduce a theme if you want to make things tougher. All you need to do is stock up on ingredients then judge the finished cakes.




Tuesday, 16 April 2019

The Parent Files - Clever Travelling with Kids





Everyone loves a good summer holiday but let’s face it, travelling with kids can be tricky. Take the pain out of your trip with our Studio top tips for a tantrum-free break.

Pack the Snacks
Hungry children are much more likely to melt down so keep a good supply of snacks/drinks to hand. If you're heading somewhere warm choose items that won’t melt or spoil in the sun - crackers, biscuits and dried fruit are all good options. Freeze bottles/cartons of drink before you leave home to keep them fresh for longer.



Unwrap a Treat
Keep little ones amused with their own lucky dip ‘treat bag’. Wrap up small, cheap pressies like yo-yos, pens or stickers and let them dig deep and choose one when they get bored.




Open Up a Lego Station
Everything is awesome, if you can keep the kids busy with their very own Lego travel station. Fill a clean, soft top sandwich box (pick one with a handle so children can carry it themselves) with a selection of their favourite pieces, throw in a couple of small bases and figures then sit back and enjoy the peace!


Colour the Day Away
Kids love to colour and an old DVD case makes a brilliant portable art set. Fill one side with crayons or pencils (avoid felt tips in case they stain clothing or surroundings!) and the other with paper. Add some stickers for an extra treat and another five minutes’ quiet time.



Charge Up
Gadgets are a godsend when you’re travelling but can cause problems when they run down. Invest in a power pack to make sure you stay juiced up on the move.



It’s in the Bag
Travel games are great for keeping the whole family amused, without taking up too much room. Choose mini, card-based versions of old favourites like Monopoly or try out newer games like Dobble or Bananagram. Perfect for car journeys or long airport waits!

Studio Insider Nazrin Ali gives her top tips for travelling with young children
For me the biggest pain point when travelling with kids comes from having to trawl through your case to find a missing clean baby grow, new pair of socks or emergency Calpol. On a holiday to Lanzarote last year, our littlest became unwell on the transfer from the airport to apartment and it was a nightmare having to unpack the whole case to find clean clothes.
I definitely learnt the hard way and now to ensure a stress-free holiday, I use small wash bags or see through, zip lock bags, to break items down in sections rather than packing everything together. That way I can quickly grab whole outfit changes in an emergency without unpacking everything in the case.

Thursday, 11 April 2019

Celeb Q&A: 15 minutes with Catherine Tyldesley


Catherine Tyldesley, 35, is a singer, actress and model famous for her portrayal of Iris Moss in BBC drama Lilies and Coronation Street’s Eva Price. We grabbed her after the school run for a quick coffee and a gossip about everything from life after Corrie, juggling motherhood, filming and her laid-back summer style.

So whats life been like since leaving Corrie?
Ive had some chill time which I really needed. I wanted to spend some quality time with my son and husband, and to travel and we did just that - it was bliss. I went on a detox retreat in Portugal, The Jason Vale retreat. There was a lot of walking, meditation and writing. So Ive been pretty busy but it feels like I’ve got more of a home/life balance. It was also really important to me that I was around when Alfie started school. I wanted to be the person doing the school run for those first few weeks.



Do you still watch the show?
I don’t get time to keep up with the show as much as Id like to but I try to tune in for the bigger storylines.
I speak often with my telly sisters Jane Danson and Georgia Taylor. Were all really close. I still speak to Samia Longchambon, Antony Cotton, Katie McGlynn and of course my lovely telly fella - Shayne Ward. We went for lunch a couple of weeks ago. Were like big kids when we get together!


What are you working on now?
Im filming a cliff hanger drama, 15 Days with David Caves and Tom Rhys Harries.
The writing and the cast are phenomenal and our director Andy Newbury is just brilliant. Im very excited about it. There are a few other wonderful happenings too but I cant talk about those just yet.


We got used to seeing you as high maintenance Eva - whats your own style like?
Im much more chilled out. Im normally in jeans and a jumper. As soon as I get home Im straight into my PJs or Tom’s trackies. Hair up, make up off… super comfy!


What is your go to summer look? And are there any summer essentials youve got your eye on this year?
Maxi dresses - easy to wear, dress them up or dress them down - effortless but feminine. Im loving the denim vibe this year too.


What kind of shopper are you?
Since Alfie arrived I do all my shopping online. I dont have time to go shopping and Id much rather have a calm experience from the comfort of my sofa. I also work with stylist Martine Alexander, who dresses me much of the time. Shes a godsend.


What are your summer holiday plans? What is your ideal summer holiday/perfects summer afternoon?
We’re not sure yet, but were definitely heading to America at some point. My ideal holiday is the Caribbean - you cant beat it. It’s so beautiful, the people are wonderful, the food is super tasty, the beaches are dream-like.


My ideal day would be spent on a beach in St. Vincents, playing with my boys in the sand (sipping a frozen strawberry daiquiri!)




Any tips for travelling with small children?
Books, films, play dough, music... ANYTHING to keep them happy!

Any the question we all really want to know….Eva’s laugh, was that for Coronation Street or real life?

I went to drama school with an opera singer and she had a laugh which was quite similar so Eva’s is a version of that. People often ask and tweet me about it. I’ve even been asked if people can have it as a ring tone!

Tuesday, 2 April 2019

How To Create an easy Holiday Capsule Wardrobe


Are you the kind of person who packs a huge bag for a weekend away? Or ends up never wearing half the outfits in your suitcase? You aren’t alone - holiday packing is tricky business! You never want to run out of outfits halfway through the holiday but lugging a massive suitcase through the airport isn’t all that fun either (not to mention the extra luggage charges).

Packing light doesn’t have to mean going without! Streamlining your packing by creating a holiday capsule wardrobe is a really smart way to pack lighter, without forfeiting some of your other travel must-haves.

Creating a holiday capsule wardrobe is easier than you think. By following these top tips you can save loads of room in your suitcase, and loads of time trying to match your outfits every day.



Tops

A white t-shirt is a holiday wardrobe staple. Simple, light, goes with anything. You can go for a white T with a bit of detail on but keep it minimal.



Keep your other tops light coloured (especially if you’re off to a hotter climate) and stick to neutral patterns such as stripes, light florals or embroidery. This will make it easier to mix and match throughout the holiday. Save the bold statement patterns for your one piece outfits!



If you’re holidaying somewhere sunny you won’t need too many warm clothes, but a light jumper or cardigan is still a sensible addition for later on in the day. When you’re sat at the bar and the sun sets, you’ll be glad you packed a light layer to keep the chill off.



Shorts

Denim shorts are a great staple for your holiday wardrobe. Lightwash denim is hard wearing, practical and matches with pretty much everything. Keep in mind the weather, but make sure you choose a length that you are comfortable in.



Lightweight trousers are another great, versatile piece for your suitcase. Light and comfy enough to wear during a hot day, and dressy enough to go out for dinner later on. If you’re keeping it neutral on top, you can pick a nice floral print to add a bit of colour to your outfit.



Maxi Dress

A Maxi Dress is another must-have item for your holiday wardrobe. The lightweight material will keep you cool in the sun, and stylish enough to take you through the day from beach to bar. There are so many styles and prints out there, and no need to worry about coordinating pieces. Just slip on your maxi dress, a pair of sandals and off you go!



Swimwear

There are so many styles to choose from. Whether you’re a bikini girl, or prefer your trusty one piece, pick a style of swimwear you’re confident wearing. Whatever your style, there are loads of gorgeous prints and flattering cuts to choose from.



Once you’ve picked your swimwear, coordinate with a cute cover-up you can rock at the beach or by the pool.




Sandals

Choose a pair that are cute and practical (no big heels!) If you’re only packing one pair of shoes, ditch the wedges and big boots, opt for a comfortable pair of sandals that will take you through the week.




Accessories

Don’t go OTT with accessories, but a few key pieces are essential for a warmer climate.If you’re going down to the beach, make sure you’ve got a bag that will fit in all your essentials!

A stylish pair of sunglasses is a must, to keep those rays out of your eyes and a straw hat is a great way to stay safe in the sun and keep the strong rays off your shoulders.


Other optional accessories; a statement pair of earrings, a small handbag, a pair of flip flops



If you’re going for over a week…

You can still pack light if you pack smart! You can easily increase your outfit options by adding a few extra pieces. As long as you keep to the same colour palette, adding a few tops and another pair of shorts would give you several more outfit options to take you through the entire holiday.



If you’re going on a city break…

It's just as easy, if you make a few changes! If you’re sightseeing in the city, rather than sun bathing on the beach you can still pack smart and stylish. Follow all the same principles, but ditch the swimwear, swap your maxi for a midi, your beach bag for a backpack and add some sensible walking shoes.



If you’re going camping in the great outdoors…

Yes, it's still possible! In the unpredictable British weather, layers are your best friend. But don’t worry, you still won’t have to pack suitcases full. Switch the short-shorts for practical jeans, stick with three or four neutral tops (a mixture of long and short sleeves), a warm jumper and raincoat. Oh, and don’t forget your trusty walking boots!




It’s as simple as that!

Hopefully these tips have given you some inspiration for your own holiday capsule wardrobe. If your holiday look is in need of a refresh, check out our full selection of ladies’ fashion here. Plus, we’ve got men’s and kids summer fashion, suitcases, beach towels, pool inflatables and holiday essentials in our holiday shop.




Friday, 15 March 2019

The Ultimate Mother's Day Gift Guide




Mum deserves the best, right? So when Mother’s Day comes around, finding the perfect gift to show your appreciation can be a real challenge. If you really want to nail it this year stick around! We’ve done all the hard work, putting together a great selection of Mother’s Day Gift ideas. From the busy super-mum, to the keen gardener, we’ve got you covered – check out our top picks below.





For the mum that never stops, give her the gift of relaxation. Not literally, of course, but encourage her to sit down and put her feet up. A new pair of slippers perhaps, or a new favourite brew mug. If that won’t do a trick, try booking her a spa day or afternoon tea, so she’ll have no excuse not to take a bit of me time!








Whether she’s a prosecco queen, gin connoisseur or prefers a nice glass of wine, pick up an extra special bottle this year. From personalised bottles, to fantastical cocktails (unicorns, mermaids, dragons, you name it!) treat her to a bottle of her favourite tipple!









Does your mum spend more time in the garden than the house? Is she a green fingered garden expert who loves tending the flower beds and trimming the hedges? Check out these great gardening gifts packed with flower power!








Help your mum channel her inner Diva! If your mum loves being glam, how about one of her favourite luxury beauty treats? A new bag? Or even some gorgeous jewellery she’ll want to show off on every occasion.





If your mum is house-proud and always looking for home updates, get her a little something to brighten up her favourite room. Something as simple as a new candle or pillow can really lift a room, and unlike a bunch of flowers, she’ll get to enjoy it for years.





If you’re looking for a gift with a personal touch, there are loads of gorgeous personalised gift ideas right here! Add her name and your message (for free!) to let her know exactly how much she means to you. 









Still not found the perfect gift? Not to worry - we’ve got loads more amazing gift inspiration! Our Mother’s Day Gift Shop has a massive selection of gifts, from chocolates and sweet treats, to flowers, cards, novelties and sentimental gifts. 


Check it out our full range of Mother's Day Gifts here

Tuesday, 12 February 2019

Half-term activities to keep the kids entertained!



Half term is almost here...again! Keeping the kids entertained during the school holidays can be expensive (and stressful) but there are loads of fun activities you can do together without spending a small fortune! Check out our top tips for keeping the kids entertained this half term: 



It might be a bit nippy out there, but the park is a great place for kids to burn off their excess energy.  Just make sure you wrap up warm! (If their coats are looking a bit worse for ware, check out our range of girls and boys coats.)



If the weather is too off-putting, swimming is a good alternative to a run around the park. We’ve got some great character swim bags and towels that can be personalised for free, so you won’t lose their bags on the first outing!





Arts and crafts are top of the rainy-day activity list – there are so many great ideas for all ages. For younger kids, try some quick and easy kids crafts with made from everyday items, paint and PVA glue. For the older kids, check out some craft and activity sets such as tie dye, kids chemistry sets and jewellery making.




Do something different this half term. Check out some local attractions without busting your budget by keeping an eye out for free and cheap activities in your local area. Websites like moneysavingexpert.com and netmums have found some great deals for kids half-term activities. 






Going on holiday this half term? Travelling with kids can be challenging, but there are plenty of ways you can keep them entertained. Kids tablets have lots of pre-loaded child safe games and activities, or look for a handheld DVD player so they can watch their favourite films on the go.




If you’re travelling via plane or public transport (or just want some time away from Peppa Pig) invest in some kids headphones with a safe volume limit.  






While the kids are entertained, why not sit down with a brew and indulge in some retail therapy? Our new range has just dropped, with loads of amazing deals on everything from ladies fashion, to homewares, garden and holiday essentials. Happy Shopping!