Category Archives: Country Life

The Autumn Malvern Show

Autumn Show

If you are looking for a great day out, the Autumn Malvern Show on Saturday 24th and Sunday 25th September is definitely a good bet.

We visited the Spring Show in May and had a fab time, so are really looking forward to visiting what is billed as ‘the ultimate Harvest Festival’ at the Three Counties Showground in Worcestershire. With a feast of activities around food and farming it has something for all ages! Newly introduced for 2016, the dedicated Family Fun Area that will be overflowing with a activities for kids including garden games, circus skills and ‘make-and-take’ craft activities. With kids fully occupied, grown ups can unwind in this area too with a chill out bean bag space. (We will definitely be heading to this part of the show!)



There is also going to be a Forgotten Skills marquee where children can find out more about the trades of yesteryear with a time travelling glimpse into how things were done in the past. There is a strong vintage theme running through the show this autumn too with Anton Du Beke making an appearance in the Vintage Village alongside lots of traditional style fairground rides and amusements.

vintage tea

One of the highlights of the Autumn Show is the UK National Giant Vegetable Championship, which brings bountiful displays of monster marrows, colossal carrots, supersize squashes and much much more. This area of the show is renowned for smashing many world records with three broken last year alone and over 300 entries competing for the highly coveted top accolades.


The Malvern Autumn Show will take place on Saturday 24 September and Sunday 25 September. Tickets are now on sale. Family tickets (2 adults, 3 children aged between 5 – 15 years) are priced at £37 when purchased in advance and £45 on the gate. Individual advanced tickets are priced at £16 for adults and £5 for children and on the gate at £19 for adults and £7 for children. Group and concession tickets are available. 

For information, please visit or call 01684 584924.


Giffords Circus – Fun for a Great Cause



Steven Kaack2Image Courtesy of  Steven Kaak

At the start of the summer we were lucky enough to be invited to attend Giffords Circus Painted Wagon show when they were situated in the beautiful setting of Sudeley Castle.

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Giffords Circus has announced that all proceeds from their closing show this year will be donated Maggie’s Cheltenham. Sales from tickets to the 5pm performance on Sunday 25 September at the circus’ HQ, Fennells Farm, will support the charity close to the circus’ heart. Giffords Circus co-founder, Nell Gifford has been undergoing treatment for breast cancer and has benefited from the support of Maggie’s Cheltenham Cancer Care Centre.



                                                                                               Image courtesy of El Gifford

El GiffordNell Gifford said: “Maggie’s have been hugely beneficial to my journey and the support they offered me at a tough time was invaluable. Cancer is something that touches each and every one of us in some way – almost all of us have a friend or family member or someone we hold dear who’s been treated for the disease. I hope Giffords Circus fans and newcomers alike will be out in force to dig deep and raise a fantastic figure for the charity, ending The Painted Wagon tour on an almighty high.”

Maggie’s Cancer Care offers free practical, emotional and social support to people with cancer and their family and friends. Maggie’s Cheltenham Care Centre is found on College Baths Road and is a place with professional staff on hand to offer the support people need. Centres are places to find practical advice about benefits and eating well; places where qualified experts provide emotional support; places to meet other people and places where you can simply sit quietly with a cup of tea.

Giffords Circus wish to champion the work of Maggie’s Cheltenham as a thank you for the support the charity offered Nell Gifford during her treatment for breast cancer. Returning from a sell out stint in London, Giffords Circus’ The Painted Wagon has a few dates left in Gloucestershire and Wiltshire, entertaining audiences with this original whip-crackin’ horse-wranglin’ hell-raisin’ Wild West extravaganza.

Andrew Rees

Image courtesy of Andrew Rees

Directed by the critically acclaimed Cal McCrystal, The Painted Wagon invites audiences to a spectacle of eye-catching acrobatics and aerialists from far and distant lands, dancing horses, bounty hunting and gold panning, all to the beat of the “Dodge City” Giffords Circus saloon band.

The Painted Wagon comes to a close in September. Giffords Circus’ charity performance will take place on Sunday 25 September at 5pm at Fennells Farm, Lypiatt, Stroud. Tickets are priced at £22 for adults and £14 for children age 3 – 14; under 3’s go free if sitting on a lap. This includes a hog roast for which donations can be made. All proceeds from this performance go to Maggie’s Cheltenham Cancer Care Centre.

 To book tickets for the remaining dates and the final charity performance, visit or the Box Office on 0845 459 7469.

Country Living and Carpet Cleaners

One of the  things about living in the country is you get a real sense of the changing seasons and with Spring in the air, better light and longer days, you really start to notice the grubbiness that Winter brings into the house.

Our carpets take a real battering with mud as

a) our back door leads out of our sitting room

b) our son’s school car park is a mud bath

c) pets

These are our two main culprits……..

Tibetan terrier

Grace our Tibetan Terrier rescue dog has had a few ‘accidents’ as she adjusts to life in a family home, so when I was asked by the team at Bissell to have a go with the CleanView® Proheat® Carpet Cleaner 34T2E

I jumped at the chance. The carpets in our house have seen better days but each Spring I have paid to have them professionally cleaned after the hammering of Winter so I was excited to see if the Proheat Carpet Cleaner would save me a £100+ in carpet cleaning. best carpet cleaner

The instructions are very user friendly and although this was the first time I have used a carpet washer, we were quickly able to understand how the carpet cleaner worked.

The tank is ridiculously easy to fill and empty and even includes an integral measurement cap so you know exactly how much carpet cleaner fluid to add to the tank. What makes this carpet cleaner similar to the expensive sort you hire is that it continually heats the water in the tank which really helps to lift the dirt out of the carpet.

Check out the video of us using it (if we can – anyone can!)

Bissell Cleanview Proheat in action from Dominique Simpson on Vimeo.

For us though, the really great bit of this carpet cleaner was that the Bissell Cleanview comes with a hose and attachment nozzle that really helps lift stains from awkward or hard to reach areas and upholstery. What we have found a real life saver is that we are able to use the carpet cleaner if one of the dogs has an accident or if a drink gets spilled straight away on a small patch without having to clean the entire carpet.

carpet cleaner

The only drawback we could see with having this machine is storage, as it is about the same size as a standard upright vacuum cleaner but luckily we have enough space in our downstairs cupboard to accommodate it. However I have to say though, that even if we didn’t have the space after living with the cleaner for the past month, I would find the space to store it if we didn’t!

The only thing I should say is that I have one warning – cleaning your carpets can become strangely addictive and we are now well and truly hooked!

BISSELL are celebrating the Queen’s 90th Birthday by giving customers 25% off any of their rechargeable sweepers!

Queen Victoria was a big fan of the BISSELL original sweeper, and often asked her staff to BISSELL the palace (this isn’t a joke by the way). So to celebrate our current Queen’s birthday Bissell wanted to share the royal families favourite, in the form of the new modern chargeable sweeper, to customers at a lower price.

 The code is: ROYALSWEEP

 and it applies to the following products;

4105E – BISSELL Supreme Sweep™ Turbo Rechargeable Sweeper

7364E – PEThair Eraser™ Cordless Rechargeable Sweeper

9974E – BISSELL Easy Sweep™ Cordless Rechargeable Sweeper

15D1E – BISSELL Supreme Sweep™ Compact Rechargeable Sweeper

Happy Cleaning Everybody!!

A Very Cowley Christmas with Cowley Manor

christmas tree image

cowleymanor_full_logo_rev-5One of the signs that Christmas is around the corner is the annual charity fashion and shopping event held in November at the fabulous Cowley Manor near Cheltenham.


This year the event is being held on Wednesday 25th November 2015 from 6pm – Midnight when the whole of Cowley Manor is transformed into a boutique shopping venue with each of the hotel bedrooms being taken over by various sellers and businesses.

Garden Room 2

Showcasing …

We have a cosy feel to the show this year with luxurious silks and sumptuous knits and a decadent food hall filled with gourmet delights, from wine tasting and artisan chocolate to cocktail masterclasses and much more.  Perfume counters, antique fine jewellery and inspired beauty sparkle are sure to get everyone in the spirit of things, alongside gorgeous Christmas wrap, crackers and floristry… there’s really no place like A Very Cowley Christmas!





Not only is this is a great chance to do a spot of Christmas shopping and catch up with friends but it is also one of the few chances you can have to wander around this amazing hotel and if you are anything like me, enjoy having a nose around some of the finest hotel rooms in the Cotswolds!

Exceptional Room Best Room (2)

This year the charity that is being supported is Winston’s Wish the leading child bereavement charity in the UK which was founded in Gloucestershire in 1992.


General admission tickets are £5 in advance or £7.50 on the door, with all proceeds donated to Winston’s Wish Children’s Bereavement Charity.

Tickets to ‘A Fashionably Late Feast’ at 10pm with 3 courses and a fashion show – £45 per person.

To book, email or call +44 (0)1242 870 900.

Information and images courtesy of Silver Ball PR

Bedroom Makeover with The Yorkshire Linen Co – UPDATE

Yorkshire Linen


A month or so ago I posted my top picks for a Bedroom Makeover with The Yorkshire Linen Co. So I thought I would share my update with you all now the fab products have arrived.

As you can see out bedroom was pretty uninspiring to begin with.

Yorkshire Linen


The items I chose were;

Yorkshire Linen’s knitted charcoal throw

Catherine Lansfield Wasting Time Cushion  from Yorkshire Linen

The Warwick King Size Duvet Cover set from Yorkshire Linen

and a superking undersheet from Yorkshire Linen in crisp white


IMG_1205 IMG_1204 IMG_1203

Sadly the throw wasn’t quite big enough for our bed but it is so warm and cosy that we are fighting over who has it on their side of the bed! The bedding is so soft and when we put it all on the bed G got in it and exclaimed that ‘it was just like a hotel bed’ which is high praise indeed from our own little hotel junkie!

A very big thank you for our Bedroom Makeover to The Yorkshire Linen Co, it has been a real treat to have some fantastic new bedding and also to finally find a good quality, well priced undersheet that doesn’t keep coming off! I will definitely be buying a few more of these as we have been struggling to find a decent undersheet since we upgraded to our superking size bed.

The Yorkshire Linen Co have put together a Christmas Shop over on their website too which has some really stylish linens for Christmas wrapping, bedding and table styling. Definitely worth a look.


Tyre safety

How often do you get into your car and drive off without giving the tyres a second thought? If you are anything like me then this is probably most of the time. However before we went away on holiday this year we did give everything a check over as we knew we were driving a long way and had quite a lot of extra load on the car. (!)

Subaru packed up

If I am honest we occasionally check our tyres, mainly before we take a long trip or MOT time, but not on a regular basis. October 2015 sees the start of Tyre Safety Month organised by Tyresafe  who are one of the UK’s leading tyre safety organisations, dedicated to raising awareness about the dangers associated with defective or illegal tyres. having a look over on their site was really interesting and certainly got me thinking. The tyres on your car are actually the only part of the car that is in contact with the ground so it makes sense that their care and condition should be of upmost importance.

Correct pressure, the right tread depth and tyres which are in a good condition are vital to our safety on the road. Taking just a few minutes to regularly check these items is a really good habit to get into. What’s more, these checks are essential to ensure you stay on the right side of the law and avoid fines of up to £2,500 and 3 penalty points for each illegal tyre.

In 2013 Government statistics revealed that 11,00 tyre-related incidents took place on England’s motorways and major roads.

Living in the country means we use the car a LOT. We can’t just walk down to the corner for a pint of milk, it is either a 40 minute walk each way or 5 minutes in the car. This makes our car such a vital lifeline out here.

With winter around the corner checking your tyres is a great habit to get into. Tyre pressures can be checked when you fill up with petrol and the 20p Test is a simple check you can do at home.

point-s tyres

If you need your tyres checked over Point S have a network of tyre dealers in the UK with 213 branches owned by 106 independent businesses ensuring that customers receive the very best advice and service. they have a really handy ‘reserve and fit system’ which allows you to choose tyres online book to have them fitted at your local Point-S depot and best of all no online payment is taken, simply pay when the tyres are fitted.





Bedroom Makeover with Yorkshire Linen

I was recently asked to come up with a  wish list of items for a bedroom makeover with The Yorkshire Linen Company. Putting together ideas for lots of things I want is my idea of heaven so how could I say no? Especially when our bedroom is probably the one room in the house we have neglected since we moved in 18 months ago. Somehow buying bed linen for our room seems to get forgotten and we have lived with a succession of bedding that was either on sale or from the Swedish store where the linen never seems to quite fit the duvet. We have one lovely set of bedding that we had as a wedding present which is white cotton and always feels like staying in a hotel when you climb into bed at night. Yorkshire Linen have such a wide range of bedding it was incredibly difficult to choose my wish list. I focused on the colour of our walls and our existing curtains which are in a shade of duck egg blue and the bedding to be a crisp cotton. Over on their blog there is a really useful article on ‘Bedroom Makeover Tips’ which I really enjoyed reading.

When considering your bedroom décor, whether you are kitting out your bedroom for the very first time, or renovating your bedroom for a fresh new look, always remember to think about your duvet designs. The right bedding, especially duvet cover and matching pillow cases, can ‘make’ your bedroom décor, completing the look and adding a final polish to the appearance and ambiance of the room.

 Follow Playing Parent’s board My Dream Bedroom on Pinterest.

My top picks are the

Yorkshire Linen’s knitted charcoal throw

Catherine Lansfield Wasting Time Cushion  from Yorkshire Linen

The Warwick King Size Duvet Cover set from Yorkshire Linen

and a superking undersheet from Yorkshire Linen in crisp white

I am going to post the Before/After photos to show how fantastic all this will look and the improvement on our current bedding look!

Muddy Puddles Puddle Pac-a-Mac Review

Muddy Puddles Puddle Pac-a-MacMuddy Puddles outerwear

We were recently sent a Puddle Pac-a-Mac to review by the lovely people at Muddy Puddles. I first came across this brand when I was teaching in Suffolk about 12 years ago and their waterproof products were always the toughest and most durable waterproofs that the children brought in. I always remembered Muddy Puddles and when I became a parent they are the people I always have a look at first for anything outdoors related.

With the new school year just around the corner my thoughts are very much on getting all our uniform together and jumped at the chance to test out the Puddle Pac-a-Mac on G. The Pac-a-Mac is not just for school though as it is so lightweight and handy that we used it in the garden and on our holiday too. The coat folds into it’s pocket, making it really handy to throw into your bag on a day out.


Muddy Puddles have tweaked the coat slightly this year making it a slimmer, more fitted cut for Spring/Summer 2015


Features of the Puddle Pac-a-Mac

  • 50% lighter than the Originals kids waterproof jacket range
  • All seams taped and sealed
  • Full length, yank proof zip
  • Neatly folds away into the jacket pocket
  • Secure Carabiner clip, once folded away
  • Fully machine washable
  • Wash at 30°C
  • Never use a washing liqud or fabric conditioner on any waterproof garment. These liquids coat the outer surface and ruin the waterproof finish.
  • Remove from the washing machine and hang to dry for best results
  • Composition: 100% Polyester with PU Coating

One of the things G liked about the coat was the soft cuffs, as he can be a bit fussy about tight sleeves. The elastic is very soft and comfy, so not scratchy like his previous raincoat he had for Kindergarten.

Muddy Puddles

The Puddle Pac-a-Mac is currently on sale with 30% off making this a great bargain for such a quality product. They do a matching Puddle Trouser too!

We were given a Puddle Pac-a-Mac for the purpose of this review.


cotswold wedding

A Round Up of Great Interior Inspiration Sites

Recently I have been busy over on Pinterest creating some boards for inspiration on decorating our house. I love looking on Pinterest for new ideas on how to create a stylish a home, although we are a long way off from ever completing this task! Along the way I have also discovered some fantastic sites packed with interior inspiration (and envy) that I wanted to share.

Some of my favourite Pinterest Boards at the moment

Follow Dominique’s board Interiors on Pinterest. Follow Dominique’s board Dining room ideas on Pinterest.

Follow Dominique’s board Dream Cottage on Pinterest.

I have also recently discovered Houzz which has the most amazing interiors and homes from all over the world.

Cotswold Country Cottage

Every time I pull up outside our front door I still have to pinch myself that we live in such a beautiful spot. We were so fortunate to be in the right place at the right time to rent our house as it wasn’t advertised and it really is the most amazing location for a family. There are two small drawbacks with the house (but I can live with these – I am really not complaining!)

1) As a rented estate cottage the interior is clean and tidy but quite basic

2) The house is about a foot below ground level which can make it feel quite dark inside, especially with the greenery outside, but I would never want to remove this as it is part of the charm.

As a result of these two factors I am slightly obsessed with creating an interior that is bright but also practical with living in the country, something I am struggling with if I am honest. Also with a cottage you have lots of nooks and crannies that can be quite awkward to decorate. I recently saw this article on Houzz which had lots of great ideas.

I really love the way the VELUX windows let in lots of light. We have a couple of VELUX windows in our house, in spots that would be really dark otherwise.

This article on Houzz also had me drooling over the amazing interiors but with a 4 year old boy and a dog they aren’t perhaps the most practical choices for our family. Again though I keep coming back to rooms that are filled with lots of natural light. (That is probably the photographer in me too.)

When decorating your home there are 5 Key Questions that the people over at Houseology have come up with to help you get started.

There are five key questions to ask yourself as you start a project:

1. What are the objectives of your project? What are your goals and aspirations for the space?
2. What’s the budget? Having a clear idea of what you want to spend will really help in the decision-making process.
3. Are there any timescales or deadlines you need to work to? It’s important to set a realistic timescales for your project, if you have a deadline this will influence some of your design decisions.
4. What are the accommodation requirements of the space? Is it a living room, dining room kitchen – or a combination of all three?
5. What activities does the room need to accommodate? Cooking, playing, seating and storage are just a few examples of the functional considerations for your space.

Decorating Tips from Houseology

(Image from Houseology site)

The Houseology site has tons of information and a whole Masterclass/Design School section packed with information.

Now I have started thinking about what I want to achieve my next task is to pick a room to start working on!

A Cornish Mum