Hopefield Animal Sanctuary

On Thursday evening I had the opportunity to visit Hopefield Animal Sanctuary for an Influencer event that they were hosting .I took my Son along with me as I knew he would enjoy meeting the animals.

We were given a guided tour of the sanctuary and an informative talk telling us all about the necessary work that they do at Hopefield. After our tour we were then treated to a delicious vegan afternoon tea served up in their on site tearoom.

The sanctuary is located in Brentwood, not far from where I live in Essex. I had driven past it on many occasions as the paddocks back onto the A12, a road that I use regularly, but I had never actually visited. My view from the A12 gave the impression that Hopefield is a small horse sanctuary, which of course it is, however it is actually so much more.

The Sanctuary was founded In 1983 by Paula and Ernie Clark, after seeing the plight of the increasing number of abandoned ponies and cobs being left abandoned on Rainham Marshes. Today the Sanctuary is home to over 450 rescued animals, not just horses. They range from unwanted pet rabbits and cats, horses and cattle to the more exotic including tortoises, snakes, raccoons, alpaca and reindeer,

One of Hopefield’s first residents was Hope a 35 year old horse. Hope was rescued at just 6 months old from the meat market where she had been separated from her mother and was found hiding in a corner scared and alone.

Hope is a lovely horse and thanks to the care she has received is now quite used to human contact.

Hope suffers from a foot condition so cannot walk in mud. This is why her paddock is floored with concrete. It allows her to enjoy being outdoors even in wet conditions. This is just one example of how Hopefield will adapt its facilities to match an individual animals needs.

Hopefield operates with a no kill policy meaning that they will never put a healthy animal down. Some of the animals have been rescued from terrible conditions, injured, malnourished and with complex physiological issues. The team will do their best to provide the specialist care and treatment required.

Some of animals have found their way to Hopefield as they have been considered to no longer have any value for their previous owners. These male dairy cows for example would usually be destroyed at birth considered worthless.

Other residents have found themselves at Hopefield due to being purchased as unsuitable pets. These Racoon dogs might  look very cute but do not make good pets. They found their way into the UK pet market from China. They are a wild animal though and cannot be domesticated. Luckily they were able to find a home at the sanctuary. Often unwanted animals are just dumped by their previous owners.

Hopefield do such fantastic work rescuing animals that would otherwise live a life that is full of suffering. They can only do this through fundraising and with the help of volunteers.

If you want to help you can do so by making a donation via their website. There is also an animal adoption scheme. We plan on adopting Slow Coach, the tortoise on the left in the picture below. He has scarring on his shell as he was kept in too small an enclosure. The heat lamps where so low they burnt his shell. This shell damage is permanent and will not grow back. It doesn’t slow him down though he was actually quite fast for a tortoise!

My Son instantly fell in love with Slow coach. He loves tortoises and wants one as a pet. We have had to tell him no though as it would be irresponsible of us to even entertain the idea. It is just not possible for us to provide the required home for one. My Son is excited to adopt Slow Coach though and will be able to visit him at Hopefield.

If you wanted to visit the Sanctuary and meet the animals for yourself it is open to the public. Opening times are  Fridays through to Monday, between 11 and 4pm.

Entry fees are very reasonable at just £16 for a family ticket. (2 adults, 2 children).

A visit makes for a lovely afternoon out, not only to you get to see a wide variety of different animals but it is very educational and helps to support their ongoing work. The tea room is also a great place to grab refreshments whilst you are there. We really enjoyed our afternoon tea!

If you could adopt an animal what kind of animal would you adopt? Let me know in the comments.

5 Simple ways to instantly add extra style points to that basic Jeans & T-Shirt Outfit.

Jeans and a T-shirt for many of us Mums has long been a bit of an unofficial uniform. Lets face it these wardrobe staples are not only comfortable and practical but they are easy. Not much thought and effort has to go into getting ready for the day. To be fair when it’s 8’oclock on a Wednesday and your little treasures either won’t get dressed or have managed to misplace a shoe, their lunchbox or both, you’re doing well to be dressed at all.

There are a couple of style tricks I like to use though that instantly give the impression I’m a stylish Mummy and have my shit together. This doesn’t take much extra time either. I’m talking just 1 extra minute added to your getting dressed time. Are you ready?

  • Tuck your T-shirt into your waistband, you will immediately look smarter.

  • Ensure your jeans are well fitting. Check out this post here for tips on how to buy the perfect fitting pair of jeans.
  • Roll the ankles of your Jeans. This little extra detail instantly adds style points.

  • Switch out trainers for a smarter looking flat. They are just as comfortable but look smarter.
  • Add a belt or scarf. Why not both?  Accessories are a great way to bring your individual personality to a basic outfit. Who agrees it can be very easy to lose yourself a bit when you become a mum? Well this is one way you can grab a bit of that back.

Check out the difference in the before and after shots below:

Creme Stripe T-Shirt £19.95 (currently 3 for 2) Joules.com

Floral scarf £9.95 Joules (in-store only)

Are you a fellow Jeans and T-shirt wearer? Do you have any tricks that you use to style up you day to day basics?

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My Sunday Photo


This was my Friday evening… It was a very abnormal evening for me… I sat on the living room floor and played Lego with my 10 year old. 

Here’s the thing, I can’t remember the last time I sat and played with one of my children. It probably would have been a game of Monopoly though? 

Usually when asked my response can vary from, ‘Im too tired’ or ‘I have jobs to do’. Worst of all I can find myself panicking at my complete lack of imagination. I sometimes feel Ive actually forgotten how to play. What was different this time though? 

We had just sat and watched Channel 5’s Rich House, Poor House and It really struck a cord with me. 

In this particular episode the Rich family had a huge disposable income. They worked crazy hours to achieve that. This meant they could provide their Kids with a Big house, expensive golf lessons, money to spend on whatever material possessions they wanted. Guess what though? They rarely spent any time together. Sitting down for a meal at the same time was unheard of. 

Swapping their lives with the ‘poor’ family forced them to live in closer proximity to one another and actually spend time together. The kids described the experience as having ‘had fun’ that week. 

Our family live a fairly average but comfortable life. My Husband and I work full time. Any free time we get is precious. We do try to take them for days out as often as possible. 

The kids don’t get everything they want but money isn’t a worry. They have a warm roof over their heads, clean clothes on their backs and don’t go hungry. They don’t have to miss out on school trips because we can’t afford it. That is unless it’s the annual letter home  about the bloody £900 ski trip. Yeah…not happening! 

My point though is that kids aren’t any happier for all the material stuff. It’s the quality time spent with them that makes them happy. Watching rich house, poor house reminded me of this. 

So when Jed asked me to play Lego with him on Friday evening, I squashed the initial ‘ughhh I’m too tied’ reaction. Jed was thrilled. Two hours of Lego building fun later I realised that I had also actually had fun. I will definitely be saying ‘Yes’ to play more often. 

My Sunday Photo | #2

My daughter will probably hate me for sharing this photo. To me though it shows her happy and relaxed, laughing with her Dad. He was teasing her about how much rent she will have to pay now she has joined the world of work. (None yet she is going to be on a very modest apprentices wage FYI) 

This photo was taken whilst out for dinner celebrating that fact. We had all just raised our glasses in a toast to her. 

Molly started her placement for her Hairdressing apprenticeship just this week. We also collected her GCSE results meaning that those final ties with school and childhood have begun to be cut. 

My baby is all grown up and that terrifies me. Last week saw the book shutting on one chapter of her life and another one opening. This will bring with it the independence that carving out her career and earning her own money is going to bring. 

It signifies that she is no longer a little girl who is going to be reliant on her parents for everything. I say that Laughing, because guess who does all her ironing and makes sure she comes home to a hot meal? Mummy and Daddy! 

Whilst I still can though I will. I can remember what a shock to the system working full time was.

Molly wasn’t the most academic of kids. She is very creative and ambitious though. After taking part in her Schools work experience scheme she found something she  knew she would enjoy, becoming a hairdresser. I’m proud that she has gone out and found herself the opportunity to fulfill this ambition. 

She had a few knock backs finding the right training route. The local College turned her down originally because her predictive grades weren’t strong enough. Unfazed Molly decided that an apprenticeship within a salon would be better for her. I’m 100% supportive of her decision. In the long run I think it will work out for the better. 

Ironically she did actually achieve the grades to get onto the College course she had applied for. She is no A* student but I’m proud of her achievements so far. 

Molly is at a very exciting and scary point in her life. Once she has finished her training there will be so many opportunities available to her. I hope she seizes everyone of them. 

How we taught our teen to deal with online Trolls

Our thirteen year olds social media outlet of choice is Instagram. He is a bit of a skater boy and loves to post videos of his latest trick he has learnt, or a picture of his new deck that he has saved his pocket money up for and finally been able to afford to buy. 

We have no problem with this, our rule is that as parents we follow his account and are Facebook friends. This way we are able to keep an eye on what he is sharing, and ensure he doesn’t experience any problems. We feel we still have a small amount of control. 

One thing we aren’t able to do is control comments from online Trolls. Harrison has experienced his fair share of trolling. Some of the trolls actually turned out to be so called school friends. Teenagers can be absolute tools! Some are strangers who have seen the first comments from this ‘friend’ and see this as an opening for a free for all trolling session. 

Once particular boy from school became a huge problem for a while. He seemed to get a kick out trolling under the guise of it’s just ‘banter’. It isn’t just Harrison that has fallen victim to this boy.  Anyone who has tried to stand up to him then becomes his next target. 

One of Harrison’s primary school friends learnt this the hard way after responding to  one such comment, with the other boy going as far as making a video inviting people to hate on him for standing up for his friend. Nice kid!! Not! 

Knowing who this boy was we initially took the route of discussing this with the schools pastoral care to see if they could help. Unfortunately other than pulling the boy aside and having a chat with him about appropriate online behaviour the schools stance on this is there is nothing they are able to do if it isn’t actually happening on school premises. 

Left to deal with this problem ourselves we had to work out the best way to mange it. 

We had a sit down with Harrison and discussed to what extent he felt this was just ‘banter’ and if he was finding it hurtful. He admitted that he was finding some of the trolling upsetting but as the instigator was part of the same friendship group he didn’t want to create further problems at school. 

Harrison agreed that for now we would block this boy from leaving any comments on his Instagram page. This has reduced any trolling to almost zero. 

We also advised him to completely ignore anything that he felt was a trolling comment. After all the trolls get off on a reaction. Funnily enough that stops any potential troll in their tracks. 

I noticed one such comment yesterday and am glad to see Harrison has ignored it. By refusing to acknowledge this person they went away. 

I am so proud of the fact that Harrison is mature enough to deal with trolls in this way. It really isn’t easy to ignore such comments but it is by far the most effective way of getting rid of them. 

Harrison is a confident and sociable boy so is able to to do this. I do feel it would be much harder for anyone who struggles with confidence to just ignore trolling. This is why it is so important to have an agreement with your child that enables you to monitor their online activity. 

What do you think is the best way to beat those Trolls? 

#MummyMonday | Pokemon Go the bane off my life??

Unless you’ve been under a rock somewhere remote you can’t fail to have noticed the latest craze that is Pokemon Go. My two boys are obsessed, and to be quite frank they are driving me up the wall.

Honestly If I had a pound for everytime I heard “Mum, Mum, MUM!! Can we go look for Pokemon?” I’d be rich. It’s fair to say that at times its doing my head in. 

Now as weird as it may sound after that little moan, I actually think that the Pokemon Go app is a good thing. Let me tell you why. 

Just before the school summer holidays I wrote a blog post talking about how difficult I found it to keep the boys Screen time down to an acceptable limit. Pokemon Go does require a smartphone, which I class as screen time, but here’s the difference, it is actually encouraging the boys to not want to sit on their bottoms and get out and about more. 

If the boys have a Pokemon egg they want to hatch then they are desperate to go out for a walk as walking a certain distance is the only way to hatch Pokemon eggs. This is great as it means they are much more active and getting some fresh air. See here’s one they hatched earlier. I couldn’t tell you what Pokemon it is though.


It’s not just the kids that are benefiting from this as we have made a habit of going for a family post dinner walk now. I’m getting out for regular walks as well. 

I make the time to go out with the kids as having heard a few horror stories about people being the victims of muggings or more bizarrely managing to walk off cliffs (how??)  whislt playing Pokemon go I am reassured that they are safe. 

Even when I’m with the boys I am constantly having to remind them about road safety. 

This may also sound like an over reaction but if I see a group of what I consider to be undesirables ahead of us I make the kids put the phone away till we have passed them. Okay I’m judging people by appearance and body language but it’s important for the kids to understand that there are people out there that would be more than happy to steal their phone given half the chance. So why advertise the fact you have one on you? 

One thing I’m not so keen on when it comes to Pokemon Go, well…that’s the cartoon itself. Yup it’s available for viewing on Netflix, and Oh My God it’s annoying! I’m definitely not up for cuddles on the sofa watching that. 

So yes the constant “Mum Mum MUM! Can I check Pokemon Go ?” is blooming annoying, but it has found a positive place in our lives. 

#MummyMonday | How well are the kids brushing their teeth? 

Have you ever wondered how well your kids are brushing their teeth? Especially if they are no longer of an age that it’s appropriate to be standing over them and supervise whilst they brush. 

Well I recently discovered a handy little bit of kit that can help check the cleanliness of your kids teeth at home, thanks to some advice from our dentist. 

The Plaque bacteria that causes tooth decay can often be colourless, so is hard to spot. Boots Advanced plaque disclosing tablets cost just £2 for a box of 10. After brushing, get your child to chew on one of the tablets (without swallowing) and then rinse with water. 


The disclosing agent shows areas of plaque bacteria that have been missed when brushing by staining the bacteria red for newer plaque and blue for older plaque. 
With all my kids they were brushing most of their mouth well, even those hard to reach back ones, but for some reason would miss the gum line of top two front teeth. 

Actually being able to show them the bacteria has been a bit of a light bulb moment. I’m able to say to them “you’ve missed that bit, go back and brush again till the stain is gone”. This is a great way to visually teach your kids how to brush their teeth thoroughly. 

I wish I’d known about disclosing tablets years ago. You see, it also leaves no room for getting away with that teeth brushing dodging phase they all seem to go through. Yes!!! The kids are very aware now that mummy has a tool for random checking of teeth cleanliness. These tablets will catch them out. Mwahhhhahah! 

Now be prepared, these pictures aren’t pretty but this is the difference in the quality of teeth brushing when they can see the bacteria. 


I highly recommend you trying this out at home with your kids. Mine have actually found the whole process really funny and almost like a game. The prize being they have improved their brushing skills. Yes they still aren’t perfect but the proof of their improvement is in the pictures.

#MummyMonday | That damn Xbox!

One of the most difficult things I find about being a parent in 2016 is controlling the level of screen time my kids partake of. If they had their own way they could happily spend a day divided between playing on the Xbox, watching YouTube, Netflix or playing Angry Birds on a hand held device. 

It’s not even done quietly now, as thanks to Xbox live and those darn gaming headsets they are shrieking their heads off in the living room with their virtual mates. It feels like my living room is being invaded by a bunch of rautious 12 year olds. 

Oh and before you say ‘But you let them have them, stop moaning’ The Xbox is actually their fathers (who never gets a look in now, ha ha) and a well meaning grandparent supplied the headset. Thanks!! You don’t have to listen to it! 

I’m fairly strict about the rules surrounding levels of usage, however my kids are crafty little buggers and always try and bend said rules. I’d be lying if I said they hadn’t got one past me on more than one occasion. 

My two boys are both early birds, so a favourite trick is to creep downstairs  and play on it whilst Mummy and Daddy are still asleep.  

We’ve tried unplugging all the devices but no, they are more technologically savvy than we are and so have figured out how to connect it all up again. Without fail they will be happily playing on the Xbox when our morning alarm goes off. For how long?? Your guess is a good as mine. Yes, I know, that makes me sound like a terrible parent. 

My answer at the moment is to lay down a ‘to do list’ before they are allowed to go near the Xbox. At least it then limits some of their available time. 

  • Tidy room
  • Homework done 
  • Ready for school
  • Practise guitar 

If I find out they have skipped on anything then nasty mummy will ban them from any further screen usage until the next day. 

I won’t lie I find that option a complete pain in the bum as then I’m constantly getting ‘I’m bored’ or ‘I don’t know what to do’. 

When did kids lose their imagination? 

The summer holidays are coming up and I’m determined that it won’t be spent in front of a screen. Their lack of imagination though is going to mean mummy coming up with activities that they won’t turn their noses up at. Help??

I reckon I’m going to be exhausted by September. 

If you have any suggestions, that don’t involve robbing a bank, send them my way please. 

So far I’m thinking of visiting a local maize maze, den building, and heaven forbid the rain stops visiting the beach. 

Let’s cause Mummy worry!| Emergency Hospital Admission for DKA! 

Just when you thought managing a diabetic child’s  condition wasn’t challenge enough, the pre teen hormones kick in and it’s a bit like the poop hitting the fan. 

So this wasn’t what I had planned to write about today but as I’ve committed to blog everyday in May and Im unprepared whislt stuck in hospital with my Son I’m improvising. 

We are currently, fingers crossed, coming out the tail end of a DKA (diabetic ketoacidodis) after two stints of being placed on DKA protocol treatment. 

I have had one very sick young man on my hands and I’m not going to lie he scared me this time. Even when he was first diagnosed with type 1 diabetes he wasn’t this poorly. 

Initially it was thought Harrison had a sickness bug, which in itself can cause complications but after 3 days of continued sickness and no body else becoming ill, well this couldn’t be the cause. 

No Harrison was in the early stages of DKA, the sickness was actually one of the symptoms that he was deteriorating and untreated this could have been life threatening. 

The Doctor’s suspect that due to his age and the increased hormones and growth spurts this meant his levels have been rising overnight for a prolonged period of time meaning his body wasn’t getting enough insulin. 

Instead of using insulin to absorb blood sugar for energy his body was breaking down fat. The harmful waste product of this process is ketones. 

As it stands the doctors have treated the DKA and are now working on getting his insulin dose increased to the right level. Fingers crossed it is enough and we don’t have a third day of going through the protocol again. 

Let’s hope that things will be resolved very soon. Though I think I’m in for an interesting few years of keeping on top of his control. Oh yes as well as all those other teenage challenges! Wish us luck!

Sometimes You Just Have To Tell Them They Smell!

“SHE DIDN’T JUST SAY THAT!!”

Uh yes I did….Hear me out though, before you start telling me off for being mean. 

I’m pretty sure fellow mums of teens will completely understand where I’m coming from with this one. 

I’m not saying all, but most teenagers at some point seem to go through that horrible condition called ‘the mysterious case of nose blindness!’ Yes they don’t seem to be aware of their own increase in body odour, or the fact that their room stinks and it’s not pleasant. 

They often have that one favourite hoody that they refuse to take off, so getting it off their back to wash is a mission in itself. It smells so bad it’s steaming (slight exaggeration), but call it poetic license. 
So what do you do about it? 
Try the softly softly approach and drop subtle hints, by purchasing them their own toiletries, or just come straight out with it and tell them they stink? 

In my experience the subtle approach just doesn’t work, I’ve tried it. 

My only option has been to resort to being blunt. Yes it is awkward and sounds mean but I have grown tired of the smell and have had to resort to just telling my teen that they smell bad. Yes it can make for an unpleasant conversation, and you will be met with that typical teenage defensive outburst but in the long run it’s for their own good. 

Here is my reasoning. If I can smell it then other people can too. Unpleasent body odour is one of those things that as much as we can try to deny it, we make judgments about people based upon it. 

I’m sure if you were a teen in the 90’s you can all remember there was always one kid in the class that would be labelled ‘skanky’ and picked on for it. Either because there was a certain whiff about them, they were unfortunate to suffer with dandruff or just struggled with spots. Kids are mean though and will jump on anything as ammunition for teasing. By not telling my teen that they smell then I’m be putting them in that position. 

So yes it may be awkward or come across as mean, but if they don’t respond to the subtle hints or gentle conversations, then sometimes you just have to tell them the smell!