Why We Eat Mostly Organic #foodyoucantrust #ad

The term “clean eating” might feel overused, but I make no apologies for my love of it. For my little family, this means eating unprocessed, mostly organic food, and making almost all of it from scratch. I say mostly because it’s unrealistic to cook absolutely every single thing for the five of us, every single day. We have our pre-made cheats, but I scrutinise the labels to ensure there are absolutely no hidden nasties. I only have a handful of brands I truly trust, and my kids love the Organix range which comes with their no junk promise.

mostly organic

Eating mostly organic doesn’t have to break the bank 

I’m not exaggerating when I say food is everything to us, and top of the priority list for me is sourcing the very best quality ingredients. There’s no denying that eating mostly organic is expensive, and as much as my children are convinced otherwise, we all know money doesn’t grow on trees. I like to ensure I find the most cost effective ways of making our food without it being debilitating price wise.

Farmers Markets: My favourite place to buy organic food is from farmers markets. Although there will undoubtedly be stalls selling very expensive goods, there are also little gems to be found. I have access to a weekly market as well as a monthly one, and the main fruit and veg stall is run by the same people. Eating seasonally comes with a whole host of benefits, plus compared with supermarket prices, it can be a real bargain. I’ll often pick up double the amount of veggies for half the price of what they would have been pre-packaged and covered in plastic.

Bulk Buying: I can’t advocate more for buying in bulk, which always saves money. There are plenty of suppliers to scope out, in order to buy dry goods by the kilo, for a lot cheaper than they would be in smaller packets. The top of our kitchen cupboards are crammed with tins of coconut milk and packets of coffee and nuts. It’s also worth stocking up when the supermarkets have offers on your favourite products. The offers go live on a cyclical basis, and most will be doing some great deals right now for Organic September. In addition, both of the main budget supermarkets have brilliantly priced ranges of organic food.

Quality Meat: I order our free range meat from a London based butcher who delivers within the M25. They only sell ethically reared meat from the best British native breeds. The animals are reared on independent farms and smallholdings, and are always free from growth hormones, antibiotics and cruelty. I think it’s up to us all to start waking up to the devastating consequences of cheap meat. Personally I’d rather eat much less, but ensure it’s absolutely top quality.

mostly organic

What led me to a clean eating, mostly organic diet?

As I’ve mentioned before, I started coming away from refined sugars and processed food in 2007. This is a long time in faddy diet terms, but clean eating shouldn’t be a fad. It should be about making gradual life long changes, which lead to a healthier you.

My own journey began after being diagnosed with polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS), and doing a ton of research into my new condition. I learnt about insulin resistance – which means my body doesn’t absorb carbohydrates the way it should – as well as the glycemic index (GI).

GI correlates to the amount of carbohydrates a food contains, and how they affect blood glucose levels. Everything we eat is considered either low, medium or high GI, and the lower GI the better for an insulin resistant body like mine. High GI foods are typically heavily processed, made from white flours and refined sugars. Medium GI foods are less refined – things like oats and other grains. Low GI foods tend to be meat, fish and some fruit and veg.

Healthy alternatives   

I took baby steps in those early days. I started buying more organic ingredients and made healthy swaps, such as using organic wholemeal flours and natural sweeteners. Rather than cooking from scratch being a weekend only occurrence, it became every day life. Once I’d established good habits in the kitchen, it got easier and easier. Now, eleven years later, this mindset comes without the slightest effort. Food should lift us up and revive us. It shouldn’t zap our energy leaving us feeling rubbish.

Here are a few of my failsafe recipes:

I only use raw organic honey or organic dried fruit to sweeten my baked food. Over time I’ve created some fabulous recipes with very little natural sugar in them. Check out these delicious paleo brownies, which contain just 1.5tbsp honey in a batch.

If you’re in the market for pancakes, but want to also boost your veggie intake (YES!) then you will love these. They’re my ultimate free from everything except taste pancakes.

For a superb savoury winter warmer, you can’t beat a good beef stew! I’ve challenged many over the years to make this dish and not have nice things to say, and no-one has yet. Check out this blog post for four easy paleo one pot meals, including a vegetarian option.

Do you have any great tips on eating organically? Tweet them to me @MummyTries 

**Disclaimer: this is a sponsored post. For my full disclosure policy, please click here.**

Finding Your Inner Strength | Become the Best You (Chapter Five)

**For details on why I have decided to publish Become the Best You on the blog, please read this. Should you wish to buy the book, you can do so here** 

How do we find inner strength?

Although writing a rigid life plan could potentially backfire and set you up for disaster, having an idea of which direction you want to head can only be a good thing. If you are aiming for fortune and/or fame, then it’s wise to have a back-up. Being talent spotted in the street or winning £100 million on the lottery carry the same kind of odds, and are almost definitely not going to happen to you or anyone you know. It’s time for a realistically optimistic outlook, and to see what you are capable of achieving. Stop getting bogged down with the problems and instead start figuring out the solutions!

Have you fallen into the trap of thinking money will solve everything? I can safely say that although money can make life more comfortable, money alone will never guarantee happiness. It is absolutely imperative to become a happy person first and it’s utterly pointless pinning all your hopes on an elusive windfall. Even if millions did land at your feet they would mean nothing if you were not happy beforehand. Once you like yourself, are surrounded by good people, and are content with your life, you will be rich in your own right. In this chapter we will talk about all the things I have done over the years to boost my own happiness; I hope they work as well for you.

inner strength

Find inner strength by having a sunny outlook on life

A positive mental attitude is essential if you are to break the cycle, and although it doesn’t come naturally to a lot of people it will get you far. However, there is absolutely no point in putting on a brave face and adopting an air of positivity unless you genuinely believe in it. Positive thinking is addictive and infectious. Once you are emanating happiness, others around you should soon follow suit. Over time I’m sure you will find yourself really enjoying the new positive you and won’t have to work so hard at it any more.

I used to think that people who were always happy must be faking it and putting it on for the benefit of others, but now I realise otherwise. I was the one who wasn’t capable of true happiness back then because my life was in such a mess. I was the one who wasn’t able to be happy every day and I assumed everyone else was the same. But we’re not. When we assume, we make an ASS of U and ME, so it’s always best to try and gather the facts instead. By not assuming you might be pleasantly surprised to find some situations aren’t as bad as you thought they were.

Find inner strength by waking up to social Media

It’s becoming widely known now (not so much in 2014 when I published this book) that social media can be very fake. In the world of InstaBook people rarely post photos of themselves looking like they need to go on a diet or buy acne cream. For the most part they are trying to create the illusion that all is fabulous and they have the trappings of a ‘perfect life’. Even though in our heart of hearts we know it’s all being put on for show, it is so easy to end up thinking everyone else is faring better than we are. Ask yourself how much of your time goes on social networking sites and how they make you feel as a result. If you feel they’re a lifeline and provide you with nothing but happiness then great, you don’t need to change anything. If you end up comparing yourself to others and it causes you sadness then we need to think of a solution.

Completely coming off any social network can feel like a big statement which most of us are not prepared to make, but scaling down the amount of time we spend on these sites can be really beneficial. I used to feel the need to check my feeds hourly but I can now easily go an entire day without looking at all. I got bored of the same people posting the same things; the silent stalkers; alpha mums and pushy parents. For me it was another habit that needed to be broken. I feel social networks have their place, but they are also a time-suck and I know I’m better off without the constant distraction. Although at first it was strange, and sometimes people would assume I knew things because they had posted them publicly, I got used to the new situation pretty quickly. I have come to the conclusion that genuine friends will want to share their lives with me in real life, and they won’t hold it against me if I don’t comment on every single post.

inner strength

A simple strategy for cutting down

Make it less easy: Delete the apps from your phone or tablet as it can be too tempting to click on them every time you have a spare five minutes. By having to log into an actual computer you are making it more difficult to be permanently ‘plugged in’.

Cold turkey: See if you can last an entire day without logging in at all. I promise you the world will not stop turning, and you might find that it’s a surprisingly liberating experience. You could post about your plans and challenge your friends to do the same. It could be fun to see who is willing to join you, and who was able to last the day.

Little by little: When you feel ready to cut down begin with logging in three times a day, then after a week cut down to twice a day and after another week cut down to once. By gradually reducing the time you spend on these sites you should still feel part of the loop, and not that you are missing out on anything important.

Find inner strength by consuming information wisely

While you are going through this process I’d like to highly recommend not watching what I call ‘scheduled junk’ (aka Reality TV). Would it be the end of the world if you didn’t know who got to the final of the latest so-called talent contest? Does it really matter if a new series of people sitting around a house all day has just started? Or that a handful of Z list celebrities are eating spiders in the jungle? What do you really get out of these shows? What’s in it for you?

Rather than letting others dictate how you should be entertaining yourself, take back control by making quality viewing choices. Don’t just watch what everyone else is watching because you’re worried you might be left out of the conversation. These shows are addictive because they are intrinsically linked to the advertising industry. Advertising is big business and millions are pumped into the industry every single day to make their job as sleek as possible. They exist solely for one purpose and that is to sell you stuff! Adverts are full of portrayals of the ‘perfect life’ which can leave us feeling inferior and gloomy.

While you’re at it ditch mainstream news, papers and magazines as well. They are full of shocking and depressing stories. They can leave unwanted thoughts and images in our heads, which are detrimental to our happiness. If you want to keep yourself well-informed you could scan a reputable news website instead. I’m not saying for a second that you shouldn’t know anything outside of your own life and live in a bubble, but I think being selective about the information we consume is a good idea. Rather than waste your time and money on trashy TV and magazines, start spending it wisely.

Here are a few suggestions of what you could do instead:

  • Read a book that you’ve been wanting to read for ages but haven’t got round to. Reading books in their paper form can be a magical experience which is not replicated on electronic devices. Browse your local library or charity shop for free or low cost options.
  • Work your way through a boxed set or good film that you’ve been wanting to watch but haven’t had the time to. Catch up channels and streaming websites are full to the brim with fantastic telly, and many of them do not have adverts.
  • Use your spare time productively by learning valuable life skills. Be it cooking good food, taking better photographs or turning your hand to DIY, practise often and you will get better. You can then share your new found skills with the people you love and respect.

Find inner strength by controlling our thoughts

While I was feeling my worst, negative thoughts and flashbacks to dark memories used to take over my mind. They would muddy almost everything else I tried to think about, leaving me anxiety ridden and stuck in the past. During the recovery period after my second breakdown I realised that if I didn’t learn to control my thoughts they would eventually end up controlling me.

It took a few months of diverting my mind elsewhere every single time I had these thoughts, but I trained myself to switch my brain off and think of other things instead. It was a huge problem for me, so I made it my mission to change it, and I can honestly say that I can’t remember the last time I felt it was an issue. The simple distraction techniques detailed below worked really well for me. Try one of them next time you need to banish unwanted thoughts from your head.

  • Close your eyes, concentrate on your breathing and picture yourself on a memorable holiday or during a fantastic experience. Transport yourself there and remember how happy you were in that moment. From now on this becomes your ‘happy place’ and it is always accessible, ready to pick you up whenever you’re feeling down.
  • Recite something familiar in your head such as the lyrics to your favourite song, dialogue from a movie or a passage from a well-loved book. This works in the same way that counting sheep can help falling asleep. Mundane tasks such as these will take your mind off the unwanted thoughts.
  • Look into the mirror, smile and tell yourself that you will not think about those things. Instead you will think about the good stuff going on in your life. Divert your attention to happiness, plain and simple.

inner strength

Work Hard

No-one I know was ever given amazing opportunities unless they deserved them. Dream jobs do not fall into laps; it is up to us to make them happen. Rather than getting upset about not being recognised or rewarded enough, work harder and figure out how to set yourself apart from the crowd. Make yourself shine through with your confidence and capabilities. Take on extra projects and get yourself noticed by the people that make the decisions. Become an integral part of the team by making yourself as indispensable as you can.

Start thinking about what you really want to do with your life. If you’re feeling unsatisfied at work then move role or company, don’t resign yourself to a crappy career path just because it’s easier to stay where you are. Look up careers advice online and seek some guidance from an expert.

Think about the answers to the following questions; we will talk about this more in the next chapter.

  • Can your current employer offer you another job in-house or would you need to leave the firm to progress?
  • Would you need extra qualifications or training for a more desirable role? If so, could you gain them while working or would you need a break from the workplace? If so, could you cope financially?
  • Is it worth thinking about moving abroad for the best opportunities?

Educate yourself by gaining knowledge on any subject matter that interests you. This is where the internet really comes into its own, because there will always be a blog, forum or website based around whatever it is that you want to learn about. If you are out of work then see what others are up to and get inspired. There are many incredible initiatives crying out for input from good people willing to work hard. Consider offering some assistance to a start-up or a charity for free to gain some valuable experience. Working for a company that excites you could ignite your own passions. It might also lead to paid employment eventually.

A suggested plan of action

  • Think of your happy place as often as you can, especially as a way of banishing unwanted thoughts.
  • Switch off and tune out from mass media by only consuming information that will enhance your life. Don’t be dictated to by television companies, tabloids and trashy magazines.
  • There is a famous quote by Theodore Roosevelt that is worth remembering: ‘Comparison is the thief of joy’. Stop comparing yourself to others because it’s a pointless exercise. Instead feel safe in the knowledge that no-one has the ‘perfect life’, we are all flawed in some way or another and everybody has problems. While you are lusting after another person’s life, there will more than likely be someone out there lusting after yours. Forget about everyone else and concentrate on becoming the best possible you.

UK Review: PAW Patrol Live! “The Great Pirate Adventure” #ad

PAW Patrol Live! “The Great Pirate Adventure”We went to Wembley yesterday to see PAW Patrol Live! “The Great Pirate Adventure”

Not that I thought for a second that it might, but it did not disappoint! The children were absolutely enchanted from the second we took our seats until leaving the arena, and continued buzzing about the show for the entire journey home. Most children have a favourite TV program when they’re four, like Freddy is. It will supersede all other programs, and never fails to raise a smile. No matter how glum mood levels are, PAW Patrol is his go-to happy maker. Yesterday he was clad head to foot in his PAW Patrol get up, including undies! The sheer joy which emanates from this kid when he’s wearing his Chase costume literally makes my heart sing.

We saw PAW Patrol Live! “Race to the Rescue” last year, which you can read about here. As you can imagine the excitement about seeing the pups on stage again was palpable. I probably don’t need to tell you how catchy the songs were, or how fabulous the outfits were. My wriggly little man stayed in his seat and was totally captivated, which says it all really.

I asked Freddy what his favourite part was. “Everything!” he replied, with the biggest smile on his face. Six and a half year old Clara’s reply was much more detailed, but is essentially a massive spoiler. At nine, Polly is of course far too old for PAW Patrol, but secretly enjoys it when it’s on the telly and especially on the stage (don’t tell her I told you that). It’s safe to say they had a blast.

For full details of the show, please check out the PAW Patrol Live website, or follow them on social media:

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram

PAW Patrol Live! “The Great Pirate Adventure”

What to expect from PAW Patrol Live! “The Great Pirate Adventure”

Ditsy, loveable Mayor Goodway has been tasked with getting Adventure Bay shipshape for a huge Pirate Day celebration, when disaster strikes. Poor Cap’n Turbot falls into a mysterious cavern and it’s up to Ryder and the PAW Patrol to rescue him. Marshall, Rubble, Chase, Rocky, Zuma, Skye and newest member Tracker have to save him. In the process they happen upon a secret pirate treasure map leading them on an awesome experience.

The fearsome crew have to travel over land, across high seas, and under water in search for the treasure. They plan on giving it to Mayor Goodway, but naughty Mayor Humdinger also wants to find the treasure. He vows to find it first and keep it for Foggy Bottom. The pups set about saving the day the PAW Patrol way by using their problem solving skills, teamwork, and trademark heroism. They prove once again that no job is too big and no pirate pup is too small.

PAW Patrol Live! “The Great Pirate Adventure” includes two acts and an interval, and lasts around 90 minutes. The innovative costume approach helps bring everyone’s favourite pups to life on stage, and their vehicles and pup packs feature heavily throughout the adventure.

PAW Patrol Live! "The Great Pirate Adventure"

Confirmed UK tour dates for PAW Patrol Live! “The Great Pirate Adventure”

Saturday 28th July – The Playhouse, Edinburgh
Thursday 2nd August – Metro Radio Arena, Newcastle
Saturday 4th and Sunday 5th August – SECC, Glasgow
Wednesday 8th August – Echo Arena, Liverpool
Saturday 11th and Sunday 12th August – Manchester Arena, Manchester
Wednesday 15th August – Fly DSA Arena, Sheffield
Saturday 18th August – Arena Birmingham
Wednesday 22nd August – Motor Point Arena, Cardiff
Saturday 25th and Sunday 26th August – The SSE Arena, Wembley, London
Saturday 1st and Sunday 2nd September – Windsor Hall, Bournemouth International Centre
Saturday 8th and Sunday 9th September – Brighton Centre, Brighton

A few tips

There is a lot of merchandise on offer to purchase at the venues. If you’re trying to save money and your child(ren) already have tons of PAW Patrol toys, take some with you. That way they’ll have something to wave in the air and hold during the show.

Work out where the toilets are as soon as you arrive, so you can quickly dash there mid-show if needs be.

Check the venue policy on drinks, because you might only be allowed to take in sealed bottles.

Make sure you check in advance for other events going on around the venue. It can put a real damper on things after having a great time at a show when it takes hours to get home. If there are other events happening at the same time, you can avoid the mad rush at the end by leaving during the last song.

Take snacks, because, you know, kids 😉

**Disclaimer: we were given complimentary tickets in exchange for this blog post. For my full disclosure policy, please click here.**

Taking Responsibility | Become the Best You (Chapter Four)

**For details on why I have decided to publish Become the Best You on the blog, please read this. Should you wish to buy the book, you can do so here** 

Taking Responsibility

taking responsibilityIn the first few years after I left home, I got myself into all kinds of undesirable situations. Sometimes through naively trusting people, often through being intoxicated and making terrible decisions.

Here are a few examples:

  • Leaving myself jobless and homeless on the promise of money to go travelling (from my mother) that didn’t materialise. It all turned out to be a ploy to get me to come back to where she was living.
  • Sleeping with a friend’s very recent ex-boyfriend (while drunk) and losing her and her two sisters’ friendship. They were also flatmates so this prompted a house move.
  • Putting myself into unnecessary danger countless times by going back to random strangers’ houses after clubbing. I recall scanning the room on more occasions than I care to remember and realising that I was the only female. Panicked thoughts would run through my head: Where am I? No-one knows I’m here! What if this turns nasty? Six blokes and me, I wouldn’t stand a chance! I count myself really lucky than nothing too awful ever happened as a result.

There are many more scrapes I got myself into, but this chapter would be too long if I included them all. I had to learn my lessons the hard way, through the harsh reality of living them and facing the consequences of my actions. It wasn’t always pretty, in fact at points it was out and out ugly, but I can honestly say now I’m grateful for the colourful life I’ve had. Nowadays I can see all these bad experiences have helped make me the person I am today, and if I had my time over I doubt I would change a single thing.

I am also aware that looking at the past through rose-coloured glasses with the benefit of hindsight is a wonderful thing. Unsurprisingly at the time I didn’t feel too overjoyed by the crappy stuff that was happening. I have had several periods of my life where just getting out of bed in the morning was an effort.

Taking responsibility by getting help

When I had my first breakdown at 22 I knew the time had come to seek professional help, and I look at this as a very significant part of my history. I strongly believe the counselling I went through back then plays a huge role in my ability to function now. I know with absolute certainty that I am only capable of being the wife and mum I am today because I made peace with my past way before I started thinking about having a family of my own.

My counsellor, Nina, came highly recommended to me by a person I trusted, at a time in my life when I desperately needed guidance. I was fortunate that she and I instantly clicked. Nina was very patient and understanding and when she offered up her nuggets of wisdom it was never in a way that I felt patronised by. I always wanted to take her advice on board and put it into action so I could tell her about it the next time I saw her.

Nina opened my eyes to how much of a drain on my emotional resources my family were. That they were forever taking from me in some way or another, yet rarely giving me anything in return. That this wasn’t normal and I shouldn’t just be putting up with it because they were related to me. She helped change the way I viewed myself and made me realise that I deserved more out of life than I was getting. Most of all Nina taught me that I needed to love myself, because if I didn’t then how could I expect anyone else to?

taking responsibilityYou cannot put a price on your mental health, it’s a vitally important part of your wellbeing. If you are unhappy then your world simply will not work properly.

After a dysfunctional childhood or early experience one of the worst things to have to admit to yourself is that you are all alone in the world, but it’s time to face up to this and stop blaming others for how your life is going.

Your happiness is in your own hands and no-one else’s. Regardless of what you have been through before now, and whose fault it was, it is up to you to take back control and make your future a brighter place.

There are lots of ways you can seek help to support you through troubled times. If you feel you need professional help then it’s essential you get it in whatever form you are comfortable with. Although counselling got me back on track, and I cannot advocate it enough, I’m aware that it’s not for everyone.

Other ways you can seek help

Intervention: Arrange a gathering and get the deep dark secrets that are causing pain out in the open. Talk them through with the people involved and agree to forgive and forget. If you are all willing to work together as a team it could be easier than you think to put those secrets into a box and bury them in a safe place where they can’t hurt you anymore.

Group therapy: If you have specific problems you need to address, then joining a support group could be the answer you’re looking for. Not only might it help you to overcome these problems, you could also make new like-minded friends, or find a mentor. Someone that has been exactly where you are right now could help you with implementing the changes you need to move forward .

Life coaching: If you feel you are lacking direction and need some guidance, a good life coach will assist with getting you on to the right path. It’s commonly misunderstood that life coaches and counsellors are one and the same, but this is not the case. If a life coach is doing their job properly they should be encouraging you to make the decisions you already know need to be made. They won’t bring up the past the whole time, and you shouldn’t need too many sessions.

Self-help books: Reading inspirational books can be a positive and uplifting experience, which you can have in the comfort of your own home without having to involve anyone else. If you think you might opt for counselling in the future but aren’t quite ready for it yet, I would suggest reading far and wide on all subjects you feel you could benefit from. As a generic starting point I can personally recommend the following:
– The Art of Happiness by The Dalai Lama
– They F*** You Up by Oliver James
– You Can Heal Your Life by Louise Hay

Writing: Cathartic writing can be a fantastic way of getting old and unwanted memories out of your head. Even if it initially causes upset, over time you will probably get a lot out of it. They say everybody has a book in them, why not put the theory to the test and see if it’s true?

Detox: Consider following a simple liver detox for a month. When we are drinking or partying or eating lots of junk it can be very difficult to look at situations objectively. A liver cleanse will help to clear your head and put you in a good position to start doing some life laundry. Always consult with your GP beforehand.

Meditation: Learning how to properly calm your body and mind will help to restore some peace in your chaotic world. Meditating is incredibly grounding and a really useful skill to have. Pick a quiet space and focus on your breathing. With your eyes and mouth closed take slow deep breaths in and out through your nose. Concentrate solely on your breathing and allow your thoughts to come and go without being distracted by them. Begin with a few minutes at the very start of each day and slowly increase over time.

Taking responsibilityTaking responsibility by waking up to our own destructive behaviour

When we’re engrossed in the cycle of dysfunction we are often our own worst enemies, and although brutal self-reflection can be painful in the short-term it is absolutely necessary if we are to successfully change our lives. To break the cycle we need to be become self-aware. Hopefully, by now, you are ready to start identifying behaviour patterns that are detrimental to your life. Behaviour such as drinking too much; addictions; sleeping around; over eating for comfort; self-harming; and spending more than you earn. If you can identify with one or more of the following examples then you will need to start doing things differently.

Drinking: Having a couple of drinks to get into the swing of a party is fine, but if you always take drinking to the extreme and it leads to trouble, then you must stop pushing the boundaries quite so far. If you don’t feel you have the will power to hold back then don’t go out in the first place. It took me three months of complete abstinence from booze then another three months to learn the self-control I desperately needed. Your length of abstinence might be shorter or longer than mine depending on your situation, but some time off the sauce will definitely be required. It’s important to remember that change will not happen overnight, so be patient with yourself during this time.

Money: Spending more money than you earn could lead to massive debts and eventual bankruptcy. Think about subtle lifestyle changes you could make to save cash. Could your car be downgraded? Do you need state of the art technology? Could you buy less expensive clothes? Do you go out to bars and restaurants that you can’t afford? Start weighing up your wants against your needs and think about whether you really need the things you are spending your money on.

Sex: Harmless fun can be great between two single and fully consenting adults. If, however, you regularly find yourself in bed with people that you aren’t even attracted to, then you probably experience a fair amount of self-loathing as a result. If you are not truly comfortable with casual sex and would prefer to have meaningful relationships then you’ll have to stop sleeping around. I would also strongly recommend that you never share naked photos of yourself with anyone. You don’t know where they could end up.

Taking responsibility by identifying bad influences

taking responsibilityNow is also the time to identify the bad influences in your life because you will never break the cycle if you spend your time with people who are dragging you down. It’s important to remember that all relationships need to be nurtured by both parties and it should never feel like you are doing all the giving or all the taking. If this is the case then things must change for it to become fairer. Takers will sap your energy and leave you feeling drained and unhappy; don’t let them take from you for a moment longer. Take back control!

There’s a theory that we will only ever be as good as the five people we spend the most time with. Ask yourself these tough questions, and start thinking of the answers: Do the people in your life enhance it, or do some of them make it more difficult? Will they be able to achieve all the things you want to achieve? Are you heading in different directions, and if so do you have a long-term future? We will look at this in depth later in the book.

A suggested plan of action

  • Start viewing your negative behavioural tendencies as little gremlins that make you do things you don’t really want to do. Take control back from them and squash those little monsters by practising self-control as much as you possibly can.
  • Be completely honest at all times by self-reflecting. Truly learn as many lessons as you can from your mistakes and put what you’ve learnt to good use by not repeating them.
  • Consider doing more for other people. Volunteer for your local charity shop; help an elderly neighbour or take a meal to a person who has just had a baby. Selfless acts will take your mind off your own troubles and help you to feel good about yourself. They will also make the other person’s day.

Paradise Wildlife Park: A Brilliant UK Day Out for all the Family (Broxbourne, Hertfordshire) #ad

paradise wildlife parkIf you’re in the market to see animals of all shapes and sizes, I’m pretty sure you’ll love Paradise Wildlife Park.

I can see why it’s Europe’s leading zoo, because I honestly don’t think I’ve ever seen so much variation under one roof. From reptiles to big cats, penguins to zebras and a life size dinosaur exhibition thrown in for good measure, you’d be hard pressed to not find something for everyone. All three of my children (aged 4-9) were suitably impressed, which is saying something in itself.

The park is huge and it was amazing to see how much space the animals have to roam around. My memories of the zoo from when I was a kid always include sad animals pacing their tiny cages. The animals at Paradise Wildlife Park are clearly being cared for well, and they certainly seemed to be content within their surroundings.

paradise wildlife parkThroughout the day there are feeds and talks you can participate in, to hear the keepers talk about specific animals. They also have daily shows in the jungle theatre. I really enjoyed hearing all about the cheetahs, although it’s sad to think that in this day and age people still kill big cats for their fur.

Did you know that there were over 100,000 cheetahs in 1900, compared to less than 10,000 now?

Did you know that unlike other big cats, cheetahs do not roar, they purr like house cats?

Did you know that cheetahs are the worlds fastest land animals? They can achieve their top speed in just three seconds!

paradise wildlife park


Our favourite bits 

There are over 800 exotic wild animals at Paradise Wildlife Park, including five species of big cats. We wanted to try and see everything, and arrived nice and early so we could fit loads in.

The big cats have such a presence, but they were also really chilled out, just loafing around. It’s like they’re looking directing at you, and I find it rather exhilarating being that close to nature. The white tiger was particularly awesome and so beautiful.

paradise wildlife park

The reptile house was fascinating, and I sat watching the alligator for about ten minutes – his graceful moves were so mesmerising. I couldn’t bring myself to look at the cockroaches, because I have a strange and unfounded phobia of them, which my kids all thought was hilarious. Clara was in awe of them because she thought they looked like giant woodlouse, one of her faves.

We love dinosaurs in my house, so the mini train taking us through the World of Dinosaurs was a real treat. There are thirty life size, moving and roaring dinos in the exhibition, which opened recently. They are incredibly well made and a few are a tad scary because of how huge they are, we really enjoyed it.

paradise wildlife park

It’s always a pleasure to see penguins strolling around, who can fail to smile at these little guys? The camels were intriguing creatures, although hold your nose because they’re rather pungent. The zebra was meandering freely in his stable, and we are still trying to work out whether they are white animals with black stripes or black animals with white stripes. Have you ever pondered this?

paradise wildlife park


After the children had exhausted themselves inside the park, we went to the outdoor playground for them to tackle the obstacle course. They then had about ten minutes at the soft play area before it was time to start heading off. They would have happily stayed for longer had we not been watching the time so we didn’t caught in rush hour. It was a truly fantastic day out, and I’d love to go back again sometime soon.


There are tons of picnic benches dotted around, and lots of clean toilets (including plenty of baby changes and disabled loos). We took a picnic with us, but the food looked decent, and the cafes serve a wide variety of hot and cold drinks, snacks and meals. The park is buggy/wheelchair friendly, and all enclosures have viewing windows suitable for small children and those in wheelchairs.

We had a glorious day in the middle of summer, but there is also a huge indoor play area for not so great weather. They also have several other play areas, a giant paddling pool and adventure golf course to ensure everyone is kept busy.

You can book events and experiences, such as feeding big cats and shadowing the keepers. You can have champagne breakfasts at the park, barbecues, sleepovers and team building days with your colleagues. They also run volunteering days, and are a fully registered charity (see the video below for more details).

How to get to Paradise Wildlife Park 

Drivers will need to make their way to White Stubbs Lane, Broxbourne, EN10 7QA. There are several car parks, with capacity into the thousands, and apparently even on the busiest days there will always be room to park your car.

For the non-drivers among us (like my family), you’ll need to make your way to Broxbourne train station from London Liverpool Street, Hertford East or Cambridge or Tottenham Hale tube. Outside the station there is a phone number to call to request the Paradise Wildlife Park minibus collects you, to take you to the park. The journey time is around ten minutes and costs £3 an adult and £1 a child for a return ticket.

paradise wildlife park

I was so impressed by how quickly the driver arrived and the cost too, as it would have been three or four times the amount if we’d have taken taxis. The journey by public transport often puts me off going to places like this, as they can be monumentally difficult to get to unless you’re in a car. It’s nice to see non-drivers being so well catered for.

You will receive a small discount for buying your tickets in advance online, otherwise you can buy them on the day at the gate. Under two’s go free and other tickets range from £15.68 to £21. Annual passes start from just £5 a month.

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paradise wildlife park

**Disclaimer: we were given our entry in exchange for this honest review – all thoughts and photos are my own. For my full disclosure policy, please click here.**



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