Devonshire Woman

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Making Fitness Fun In The New Year For A Healthier New You

A new year is a perfect time to access what’s happened over the past twelve months and have a fresh start. However, once you’ve taken all those fairy lights down; it can sometimes be a challenge to find your January motivation, especially when it comes to exercise (the British weather at the beginning of the year never helps). Therefore, it’s worth thinking about you can make fitness and a new routine, something fun. Fun stuff will always keep you motivated, and your momentum will increase week by week, building up your stamina, health, and wellbeing. If you can discover ways to enjoy exercising and fitness, you’ll be well on the road to a healthier and happier new you, and your new habits will last for the years ahead.

There will always be backup excuses in your mind as to why you need to skip or miss out on exercising during a day or week. However, if you push through the first few challenges; you’ll be able to continue getting into shape and feeling great on the inside. There’s no time like the present to think about how you can make your fitness regime a fun one, so get out your notebook and pen, and start writing a list of the things you might like to do. Don’t be fearful of trying more than one thing; some things are more suited to some than others, and you might surprise yourself at how much you enjoy and activity you’ve never done before. The following are some ideas, inspiration, and tips, for those who want to get back into the swing of a healthy lifestyle and enjoy a fit and active year ahead.

One To One Help

The gym is a place where you’ll have a plethora of potential workout and exercise options. The new year is always a time when gym memberships are going for affordable prices, and it could be just what you need to begin your fitness journey. You’ll never know if you’re a gym bunny unless you visit one and try it out. For those nervous to turn up and start using equipment and weights that they have no experience with; pay a little extra at the beginning for some one-on-one sessions so that you can get into the swing of what works for you. A fitness expert and personal trainer will be able to advise you on how you can achieve the results you want through exercise, suggest any natural supplements they feel will benefit your progress, and help you to get in a routine that suits family life. Time in the gym will be a chance to exercise and escape the duties of parenthood for an hour or so; you’ll return energised and refreshed and able to take on the challenges of kids, and a work-life balance.

You might be nervous to start any sort of exercise that you’re not used to, whether that’s pilates, running, or weight training. Therefore, investing in the help to teach you how to do something, and encourage you to progress and do more, will ensure that you’re more likely to stick to your new-found passion. Before long, you can start exercising and training alone and will have the confidence and skills to head to any gym session or fitness class without the support of someone else, making them a great investment for the new year. You can build a rapport with your trainer, making your sessions fun and motivational, so start looking at what and who is available to help you today.

A New Class Of Friends

Whether it’s at the gym (that you’re now so accustomed to) or in your local community centre; fitness and exercise classes are the perfect, fun way to start enjoying getting active. A class full of people all learning together is a great way to meet new friends, and you’ll be able to encourage each other and push one another forward. It might be something like Zumba or keep fit that spurs you on; dancing to music (check out for music inspiration!) is the ideal way to release those endorphins and let loose after a busy week. Picking up the skills in a dance and exercise class will allow you to do your own sessions at home in between going to see your classmates and teacher. You can meet up with fellow members of the sessions and enjoy your yoga, tai chi, or pilates together; make it social so that it’s always a fun activity and you’ll never get bored.

If you’d rather blow away the cobwebs and get outside more; a running group is a great way to exercise with company, and you can all work together to get faster and build up your stamina. Jogging, hiking, and running groups are another way to ensure that you can continue the sessions outside of the set days and times so that you can increase the amount you do. Ringing up a friend or running partner to utilise your local park together can end up in a well-deserved coffee and a catch up afterwards. Have a look online, or in your local paper to see what’s happening in and around your area. You can contact a group through email or social media, and begin talking to members before you meet up for your first session, which will help alleviate any nerves. Remember that you’re all there for the same or similar reasons; to have fun, improve your skills, and get fit, so enjoy yourself!

Make sure that you give everything you try a chance; sometimes things can get off to a difficult and challenging start as your body and lifestyle won’t be used to it. However, once you’ve broken through the barrier and lept over that first hurdle; you’ll be amazed at the difference your new fitness and activities have made in your life. You’ll gain confidence, motivation, much-needed time to yourself and with other people, and you’ll be able to have fun during each step along the way. Make 2018 a fun-filled year, and you’ll be a happier and healthier new you in no time!

Creativity + Recycling = Upcycling. This is how and why you should do it.

Upcycling is a trend that seems to have taken the world by storm in the last few years. It’s all about taking something old and giving it a fresh lease of life by altering it and renovating it, so it fits a new purpose in the home. It can be a super fun, creative project too, as well as there being some pretty important reasons underpinning it, just read on to find out more.

Why bother to upcycle?

Perhaps the popularity of upcycling in the last few years is in part due to the realisation that many of us are making that we can no longer endorse a throwaway culture.

Image here

A culture that gets rid of things for the simple reason that they no longer fit the most current trends in decor, even though they are still 100% fit for purpose. This wasteful attitude is thankfully something that many people are putting behind them as they learn to respect and care for the planet more, hence the rise of recycling and its sister task upcycling.  

How to upcycle: Step 1

The first step in upcycling something is to find an item of furniture to work your magic on. You can use something that you already have in your home, or you can purchase something cheaply that has been pre-loved.

Traditionally the latter has been slightly more difficult because if you pick a large or bulky item, it can be tough to get it from the seller to your house.

Luckily there are some companies with excellent reputations like the one you can read about in these Shiply reviews that can hook you up with a delivery driver that can perform this service for you. Probably, at a much more reasonable rate and with a lot less hassle than if you had to do the job yourself.

Step 2


Once you have the item of furniture, it’s time to work out what to do with it. It may just need some surface work doing like sanding down, a lick of paint, or a coat of new varnish? However, you may choose to something a bit more ambitious and disassemble the original piece to create something completely new.

A good example of this includes retro TVs being used as pet beds or bookshelves, as well as wooden pallets being broken down into shelves or used as headboards.

Step 3

Once you have an idea of what you will create, you can then get to the fun part. This is the actual creative and craft work that may include decoupage, painting, building or sewing depending on the materials you are working with, comes in. Check out for some inspiration.

Image source

Step 4

Lastly, once you have your upcycled furniture piece finished you should do two things. The first is to check its safety of the job you have completed. After all, you don’t want shelves falling down, or seats breaking under people!

The next is to put it in its assigned place in the home and enjoy it. After all, you have created a thing of beauty and function and stopped loads of waste ending up in a landfill too. Well done you!

Cotley Farm Christmas

Last weekend my family and I did something really exciting, we bought our first real Christmas tree! Now the boys are of an age where they will not destroy or pull the tree over, we thought it was time to get one. So when we were invited to Cotley Farm in Whimple, East Devon, how could we say no?

Cotley Farm has been on my radar for a few years, it’s the place to go if you want a good quality Christmas tree.  It also has the added bonus of a wooden lodge full of festive treats and real life reindeers.

There was good signage to the farm (we easily found it using our sat nav), when we arrived it was very busy (we went the busiest weekend for the farm) but there was plenty of parking and it certainly didn’t feel too busy as everything was spaced out. There was a little site map at the entrance to easily navigate around the farm.

We first headed into the Christmas Cabin, it was a quaint wooden lodge full of decorations, local food, drinks and treats.

Everything was displayed beautifully, there were lots of lovely things on offer to help decorate your chosen tree plus plenty of gift ideas.

The boys were desperate to see the reindeers, so they jumped in to sleigh ‘Cotley 1’ to get to the barn.


Reindeer sign cotley farm

The boys were convinced that the reindeers were Dancer and Prancer! The reindeers were all cosy in their barn, they have a busy evening on the 24th December apparently. Inside the barn were also piglets and sheep (with the sweetest little lambs). They also have calfs in a separate barn, so the cuteness factor was sky high.

The reindeer lodge was so festive, it was decorated beautifully.

Before we chose our favourite tree, we (as in me) was enticed by this sign…

This was such a lovely touch, i didn’t feel like we were just buying a Christmas tree, it was a full-on festive experience. The mulled wine was delicious and warming, even the mince pies were warm, Cotley Farm certainly know how to spoil their visitors.

It was now time to go pick our tree, the tree farm was full of families looking for that perfect tree, and there were so many to choose from. They have a variety of sizes and types of fir, so whatever space you have or budget there is something for everyone. A full list and prices can be found here. We went for a 6-7ft Nordmann tree. The staff were working so hard, we did not have to wait long at all, and they were very patient. I think we were quite relaxed about choosing our tree, but some visitors were very particular about what they wanted. Again the staff went with the flow and helped everyone get the tree that they wanted.

The boys fully embraced the tree picking, if you watch my little video at the end you will see my littlest boy jumping around with so much excitement when he was shown the tree. This has created a lovely memory of Christmas for me, so much better than going to a store and picking a tree.

Lester, who owns the farm and helped us pick our tree let the boys pull the tree through the netting machine, they loved that they prepared our tree for home.

We loaded our tree on the car and then ventured in to see the baby reindeer (so cute) and the nativity scene in the final barn.

Once home, we put up our beautiful tree. I didn’t realise how much i would love having a real tree but i can not stop looking at it.

We got straight into decorating our tree, we decided not to go too crazy with the decorations, we wanted to see as much of the tree as possible.

Here it is, our Cotley Farm Christmas tree, we love it!

If you are not in the Christmas spirit, you certainly will be after visiting Cotley farm.  A lot of thought and care has gone into making visitors have a christmas experience when they visit. It’s not just about buying a tree but bringing the family together and making the day rememorable. I can see why Cotley Farm is a place families return to year after year, it becomes a place that is part of family traditions at Christmas, one of which will be ours too. I am already looking forward to going again next year. If you would like to see more of our day at Cotley Farm, i have put a little video together to share my experience with you.

I was invited to review Cotley Farm in return for a discount on a Christmas tree. We had planned to buy our tree from Cotley Farm this year, so this is my honest opinion of the farm as a first time visitor.

Frugal Elf On The Shelf

This year i have decided to take part in Elf On The Shelf, the price tag of the official elf on the shelf put me off a little bit in the past but other stores have jumped on board and families can take part in the fun over the festive period, even on a tight budget.

My boys are now 6 and almost 4 years old so they are really embracing the magic of Christmas. We started our elf on the shelf craziness yesterday when a letter landed on our doormat addressed to the boys…

santa letter in blue envelope

Daddy reading boys their letter from Santa

The boys letter from Santa

So our elf is going to be arriving soon! I made the letter using Canva and printed it on some premium paper that we had. The boys reaction to the letter was magical, i wish i had filmed it, the look on their faces was sheer excitement.

Tomorrow is 1st December so i have some planning to do. We still need to think of a name for the elf, but let me introduce to our family elf and how we have done it all on a budget.

Our elf was actually from Poundland (but cost £2) – still a bargain, he is so cute and i love his little cheeky face. Our elf will have a gateway to the North Pole through elf doors that will appear in my son’s bedrooms tomorrow morning. These were gifted to me by the mother in law but they can be bought for about £1-£3 in The Works and The Card Factory. Our elf is going to be bringing the boys their letters to write to Santa, we will be then posting them to Santa at the Royal Mail (if this is done before the 8th December, the Royal Mail will send a reply). I got these letter sets from The Card Factory for 99p each. Elf is staying with us until Christmas Eve, i have a feeling the boys are going to be sad to see him go, so he has already bought them a little gift which he will leave behind for them, a little snowglobe each with a little elf inside, these were also 99p each from The Card Factory.

The Factory Outlet is also selling some cute pieces, i picked up this ‘naughty elves up to mischief’ for £1. Our elf is a little floppy so i picked up some floristry wire from the local florist for 85p to make his limbs a bit more sturdy and mobile.

If you have an elf and want to make them bendier, it is very easy to do. All you need is the florist wire, a stitch picker and some scissors to cut the wire.

Simply unpick a couple of stitches and feed the wire through, restitch and you are done!

our elf on the shelf

Our little elf can now sit up and has a bit more life in him now his limbs are more sturdy. I can not wait for the boys to meet him tomorrow.

I am planning his arrival today, this is what i have planned so far;

  • Elf doors will be put in place this evening.
  • Elf will arrive with a letter saying hi to the boys.
  • Elf will leave a movie out for us for our movie night, i have a feeling it may be ‘Elf’!
  • Elf will bring welcome gifts of Santa letters to write & some paper chains for us to make during the movie.
  • Elf is bringing a special breakfast with him to, cinnamon rolls and winter doughnuts (i will make these this evening whilst listening to a bit of Michael Buble!)

Are you taking part in Elf on the Shelf? I can not wait to see what these naughty elves get up to!

Focus on These Key Areas For Business Growth!

Just because you’re a small business doesn’t mean to say you shouldn’t make a big impression- in fact to do well this is exactly what you need to be doing. Here are some of the ways you can boost business and get ahead as a small business.

Pay For A Good Website

Your website the online representation of your business, it’s the first thing your customers see when they come in contact with your business, and if you’re purely an online company, it’s the way you come across to customers. For this reason, something that looks smart and professional while being easy to navigate is so important. It should be visually pleasing and quick to load, research has shown that customers could be so badly put off a slow loading website that they would never return. So if yours isn’t up to scratch, it’s somewhere you need to invest in.

Have a Responsive App Made

As well as a good website that’s optimised for all devices, it’s worth having an app created too. This is because sales on tablets and smartphones have overtaken those made on computers and laptops- showing that as business owner you need to move with the times. Because apps on places like Apple’s App Store need to be verified, it shows customers that it’s safe to shop with you as you’re a legitimate and trustworthy business.

Be Reliable

When you’re a small, relatively new business, customers are taking a chance on you when they purchase from you. Instead of shopping with your more established competition, they have chosen to shop with you so you don’t want to disappoint. Make sure your products are packaged well and shipped in good time, sites like Shiply have different delivery methods you could consider. Make sure your product descriptions are accurate and that you are putting out items that are of the best quality. Make sure you do what you say you will as a business, and you will keep people coming back.

Get Your Marketing Strategy Right

The right marketing and promotion is how you are able to get your business out there and compete with your more established competition. It’s not as simple as setting up a business and people coming flooding in- you’re a small fish in a big pond, so people need to know you exist! Work with a professional marketing agency who can help and advise you on things like backlinks, SEO and social media.

Build Up Customer Reviews

Finally, if a customer has never shopped with your business before, it’s likely they will read reviews from past customers to see what kind of experiences others have had.  Research has shown that most people are happy to leave a review when they’re asked, so it’s worth sending a polite follow-up email after your customer’s order has been delivered asking them to review you. Third party review sites like Reevoo and Trustpilot are good for this.

What areas of business would you address for business growth?

Reduce Your Rubbish Clearance Before You Open the Bottle or Can

The basic premise behind this very effective method of reducing your rubbish clearance is borrowed from other fields of study before we even thought much about devastating effects of filling our landfills with rubbish! In the field of medicine, for example, there is a wise old adage that says, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” This basically means if you use just a little prevention, you don’t even need the cure! It also means you can get a lot more accomplished with a smaller amount of effort if you “nip a problem in the bud.” In other words, if you solve the problem before it actually becomes a problem, it’s much easier to solve!

So, how do we apply this same old adage to the problem we are seeing with so many single use plastic bottles and aluminium cans ending up in the landfill? Recycling efforts alone are not working to keep plastic bottles and aluminium cans out of our rubbish clearance in landfills. Consider the following stats and facts.

According to a study by Coca-Cola, about 16,000 single use plastic bottles are produced every single second! That’s a mind boggling number, especially if you start trying to figure out how many single use plastic bottles would be produced in a minute, an hour, a day, and a year!


Let’s actually do the math!

If 16,000 single use plastic bottles are produced per second:

16,000 x 60 = 960,000 produced per minute (that’s almost a million per minute!)

960,000 x 60 = 57 million 600 thousand produced in just an hour!

57,600,000 x 24 = 1,382,400,000, about 1.4 billion produced every day!

1,382,400,000 x 365 = 504,576,000,000 billion per year!


So, more than HALF A TRILLION single use plastic bottles are produced each year! Coca-Cola alone produces about 100 billion of these! No wonder we have single use plastic bottles adulterating every wrack line on every beach in the world! No wonder we have these same plastic bottles in every ecosystem of our diverse oceans, including the deepest depths of the deep sea! And… no wonder we’re having trouble recycling all of them, or even close to all of them!

To make matters even worse, Greenpeace has determined that only about seven percent of the single use plastic bottles are actually made from recycled plastic. Therefore, we have new plastic entering this waste stream in our rubbish clearance all the time! While Coca-Cola has publicly vowed to improve these numbers, they have a long road to get to one-hundred percent.

So, how many of these single use plastic bottles actually get recycled?

According to a Recoup UK Household Plastics Collection Survey, only about one-third of all plastic bottles are actually recycled! This means that more than sixty-six percent of all single use plastic bottles, most made from virgin plastic, are heading straight into our landfills! This may in part explain why only seven percent of all single use plastic bottles are made from recycled plastic.

What is the current status of single use aluminium cans?

Aluminum single use beverage cans do fair better that single use plastic bottles. This is probably because there’s more profit in recycling aluminium than plastic so there’s more of an incentive to recycle them. According to the Aluminium Packaging Recycling Organisation, in May 2017, the rubbish clearance recycle rate for aluminium cans jumped to seventy percent, up ten points in only three years! However, that still leaves thirty percent of all single use aluminium cans not being recycled at this time!

So, let’s get back to our “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure,” philosophy and see how we can apply it to this ecological catastrophe.

What if we PREVENT the problem by using less, far less, single use plastic bottles and aluminium cans?! This “ounce of prevention” would greatly lessen the need for a major cure!

Here are some things you can personally do to greatly reduce, or even eliminate, your use of single use plastic bottles and single use aluminium cans:

  1. Buy Sustainable Glass or Stainless Steel Reusable Bottles and Mugs

Use these for around the home and for when you’re travelling. Keep an extra one in your vehicle or backpack just in case you forget your favourite one at home. You can get these in “thermal” versions to help keep your beverages hot or cold! Plus, many coffeeshops and restaurants are now giving a discount on beverages to those who bring their own bottle or mug.

  1. Invest In a Water Filter

You may not realize this but most bottled water is actually tap water that has been filtered! You can do the same thing at home with a water filter. You can then fill your reusable bottles and take them to work and on the road with you! Best yet, you use the filtered water for cooking too!

  1. Eat Fresh Fruit and or Make Your Own Fruit Juice

Bottled fruit juice is not necessary if you make your own fruit juice at home. It will also be much better for you than the ultra pasteurized versions sold in bottles.

  1. Find Alternatives To Sodas

Sodas are not healthy for you. The carbon dioxide is very acid producing in your body which can disrupt your natural flora. The sugar in these drinks are also very harmful. You can make your own “flavoured water” that will taste great and be much healthier. Simple ideas include adding a squeeze of citrus or herbs like mint to your filtered water.

  1. Buy a Soda Maker If You Must Have Fizzy Drinks On Occasion

Are you addicted to carbonated beverages like sodas and feel like you must have them at least occasionally? If so, you can purchase a soda maker with reusable carbon dioxide cartridges and glass carafes.

Clearabee is fully committed to reducing rubbish clearance in our landfills. Therefore, if you do still have single use bottles and single use cans in your rubbish, separate them out and label them as such. Then call Clearabee and they’ll get them to a place that will be sure to recycle them.

Road Trip Breakdowns: What Now?

Picture the scene! You’ve decided it’s a great idea to head to the nearest picnic spot, so you’ve loaded up the car with the essentials, strapped the kids into the back and you’re going for an hour’s drive to get to the best scenery and place of fun for your family. So far, so good, right? Uh-oh. It’s started to rain. You press on with your journey anyway, and decide that an indoor place would be just as nice as a picnic in the sunshine. You’ve been driving for a good few miles, you’re on the motorway and the car is juddering and all the lights are shining and flashing. You pull over to the hard shoulder and now the car won’t start. It’s pouring with rain; the kids are whining and now your brain tells you it’s a good time to panic!

Well, panic not. It doesn’t matter the scenario, breaking down at the side of the road doesn’t have to be the end of the world. Breaking down doesn’t mean you should immediately burst into tears, but you do have to act quickly and be smart about it. Cars break down all the time on the motorway: batteries need replacing at a garage, car tyres need re-inflating by Air Supplies, whatever you need can be fixed. So, what do you do if the car gives up when you’re on a trip? How do you get yourself to safety?

  1. Before the car gives up, indicate and pull over to the hard shoulder. If you can get near to a telephone box, then fantastic, if not, pull up and turn your wheels into the left.
  2. Get the kids in the car to calm down and occupy them with an activity while you get yourself on the phone and calling for some help.
  3. Pop on the hazard lights, especially if there is inclement weather or it’s getting dark outside. You need to be visible.
  4. Call your car cover company and get them to come out to you in an emergency to be towed, or at least see to the problem. You should also call someone who can drive you and the children and their car seats safely home.
  5. Don’t attempt to get out of the car and wait if you cannot get to the hard shoulder. Put your seatbelt on with the hazard lights and wait for a rescue vehicle to get to you.
  6. Don’t panic! There’s nothing worse than panicking about being in a crash, and if you think with a level head you are far more likely to stay safe on the road. Your safety is paramount, and panic can skew your thinking.

When you get rescued, make a point of noting down the issue with the car so that you can be prepared for next time. Breaking down on the motorway is a scary experience, but it’s one you can overcome with a little quick thinking! Keep a level head and keep safe – that’s the most important bit!