Planning Permission!

We’ve got planning permission! With no need to appeal, no conditions to speak of, none of the stuff which I’d convinced myself would go wrong. Whoop!

It’s been a while, I know. In fact it’s been so long since we started this process that Nadim, our architect, has relocated to London (rumours that this was to escape a particularly demanding client in the Canton area are unsubstantiated). I’m currently working on persuading him to take on the next stage all the way from London – I mean that’s gotta be an easy sell, right? Reconfiguring swanky city penthouse pads with mahoosive budgets  has got to be no fun AT ALL compared with working with an indecisive and neurotic forty something, on a rundown mid-terrace, with a heathy dose of First Great Western thrown in for good measure?

Anyways, I’m hoping that the time we have spent talking about what we want from the project and changing our minds about stuff and generally procrastinating over every little detail will stand us in good stead now we’re actually getting towards the building. Since we’ve discussed every single permutation of what’s possible, hopefully we can get right on without any last minute changes *stares ferociously at the Husband*

To recap, we are putting a bedroom and en suite in the loft, so we can move up there and the kids can then have a room each; we are carving a tiny separate study space out of what is now the main bedroom; and downstairs we are knocking down two walls and extending out into the side return, to give us a big family area as well as a separate living room (for grownups, ha!) instead of the four separate rooms we have at the moment.

It’s a pretty big project, and plan A was that we would move out for six months and get it all done at once, as well as some jobs that have needed doing for a while – resanding the floors, replacing some windows, sorting out the living room ceiling…I had this dream that I could pop back daily and project manage everything, and then we could move back in to a completely finished new house, and never have to lift a finger on dastardly decorating EVER AGAIN.

Alas for reality – basically, we need the extra bedroom much sooner than we would have it if we were to wait until we’d saved up enough to get everything done at once. So it’s Plan B – loft conversion and study asap, hopefully before my two younger kids do some real damage to each other, and that way we’ll at least have an extra room to live in upstairs when we get the really stressful work done in a year or two. And on the bright side, it gives me a bit longer to plan the layout of my new kitchen….

So. Next up – technical drawings and building control; picking a builder; thinking about the look of the new rooms (obviously BOHO CHIC, baby) and entering every competition under the sun that involves possibly winning furniture, bathroom kit, new boilers – or cold hard cash for that matter, I’m not fussy!

More soon…

Five (packable) games for holidays with kids

I’ve been meaning to write this post for a while – since the beginning of the Summer Holidays actually, when it might have actually been relevant and useful, oops! However looking on the bright side, my tardiness on this does give you a head start on Christmas present ideas, if like me you are contemplating stepping over into the abyss and getting a head start!

So. Games for holidays…as every parent knows, this can be a minefield. Some games promise so much on the box and yet fall flat within minutes; some games are rip-roaringly fun for the kids but toooorrrrttttuous for the adults, some are so complicated that it’s time to go home before you’ve figured out how to play. If you’re lucky enough to be travelling abroad, there’s your baggage allowance to think of; even if you’re staying closer to home, at somewhere like the Parkdean holiday parks, you won’t want to be squeezing large unwieldy boxes into the car.

So, after much research, and bearing in mind that ours are aged between 4 and 9, here’s a list of the five games for kids that we don’t leave home without…

Too Many Monkeys

1) Too Many Monkeys – this is a very simple card game, suitable for children who can recognise the numbers from one to six. The best thing about it is that it is so easy to play that even quite young children can explain it to each other, which is ace because you can send them off to play with their new friends on the campsite while you have a nice cup of tea in peace prepare the next fun-yet-educational activity to keep their little minds active. This game is marketed for ages 6+ but actually it’s more suitable for ages 3.5 – 6; it’s for two to six players, though best with two to four. Comes in a small box but the cards can be taken out and rubber banded to save space.


2) Uno – sometimes the old ones really are the best. Players try to get rid of their cards by matching colour or number; wild cards can turn the game on its head; noise and fun guaranteed. What more do you need? Suitable for ages 6 and up, and works best with three or more players. Comes in a playing-card sized box.

Story Cubes

3) Story Cubes – a set of nine dice with images on them, that are thrown on the table for players to make a story with. No hard and fast rules – you can get everyone to make one story with all nine images, or each player can take an image to make a sentence in turn, or you have have teams competing for the funniest story using the cubes…the possibilities are endless. A fun and creative antidote to some of the more competitive games; suitable for any age and any number of players. Comes in a box small enough to fit in a coat pocket.

Rat a Tat Cat

4) Rat a Tat Cat – from the makers of Too Many Monkeys, this is a great game which also sneakily improves memory and maths skills. However that’s not why I’m including it here – it makes our top five because it’s fun, fun, fun! Suitable for two to six players of age 6 and up with the standard rules, however it works from age 4 with a little help and the cards played face up. Comes in a small box but the cards can be taken out and rubber banded to save space.

Forbidden Island

5) Forbidden Island – The aim of the game is to salvage treasures from a rapidly sinking island, and get yourself and your fellow explorers safely away in a helicopter before the island is lost to the sea. What I especially love about this game is that all players must work together; either everyone wins, or nobody does – so team work is encouraged, and there’s a bit less gloating and making ‘Loser’ signs from the Husband over-excited kids. Forbidden Island works with two-four players, (though its sister game Forbidden Desert, also co-operative, plays up to five). Recommended for ages 10 and up but because of the co-operative nature of the game, younger children can be included;  and for packing purposes it is larger than the games above, but comes in a sturdy tin so it can’t be squashed or broken!

So – that’s our top five holiday games – what are yours?

**This is a sponsored post, created in association with Parkdean Holidays**

Gone Fishing…

You’ll have noticed, if you’re my daily reader, that the blog’s been a bit quiet for a few weeks – the summer holidays, plus a big work project, have seen to that. And now, finally, it’s  that time of year again – we’re off, all together, no school, no nursery, no work, no shop, for an entire 10 days! I really want us to make the most of this time together, especially as it’s the last couple of weeks now before my bonus baby starts school *sobs*.

So – LearnerMother will be back in early September – in the meantime, thank you for reading, as ever, and I hope you are having a brilliant Summer, wherever you are!

Michelle x