Blog : Little Lilypad Co

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The Little Lilypad is a lifestyle blog mostly written by a mum to two beautiful, cheeky and entertaining daughters. It is sometimes written by the Man on the Pad, when he is not relaxing in one of our best recliners, or our baby bloggers and occasionally we accept guest posts. There is frequently talk of shoes and clothing (we love fashion and savvy shopping), chocolate (who doesn't love chocolate) education and swimming (we love this too). It is hopefully helpful, sometimes funny and always honest.

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Category: Things We Love

  1. 5 Gorgeous Italian Locations You Simply Cannot Miss

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    Italy is the must-see country that sits at the top of most bucket-lists. The combination of romance, stunning architecture and delicious food is irresistible.

    I have wanted to go to one of the many gorgeous Italian locations for years and I might add it to my list of things to do before I am 40, so if you have been saving up for a break away this year, Italy could tick all of your boxes. It is a safe, family-friendly destination if you want to take the kids and a romantic getaway if you decide to have a break away without them. Here are 5 gorgeous Italian destinations that you simply can’t resist.

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    1. Impressive Rome

    Rome is the glorious capital of both modern Italy and the ancient Roman Empire so you get to see two cities in one. There are so many sights to see in Rome, it is important to get organised before you go to make the most of your time there. European Tours are the easiest way to make sure that you are not missing anything. Your itinerary will be planned perfectly to ensure that you get to experience both the major sights and hidden gems. You get your own tour guide so you can ask whatever questions you like and learn as much as you can from the experience. Obviously, you cannot miss the Colosseum and the St. Peter Basilique in the Vatican but you will also love the Spanish steps of Piazza di Spagna.

    1. Beautiful Florence

    Florence is the classic Renaissance city, packed with charming elegance, architecture, art, and culture. It is hard to pick out the most beautiful aspects of Florence because it is all stunning but the Piazza del Duomo and Piazza della Signoria are both places where you can view the highlights of Florentin architecture. They were once the political and religious centres of this historic city and give an insight into the Florence of the past. If art is what you are seeking, you need to head straight to the Uffizi Gallery where you can find the most famous paintings by Leonardo and Raphael. For a taste of modern Italy and an injection of Italian culture, book a performance at the new opera house in Florence for an evening that you won’t forget.

    1. Stunning Cinque Terre

    Translated this means the ‘Five Lands’ and it is a set of five linked villages which are located on a cliff on the Italian Riviera. They are an impressive sight. It is not surprising that this is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and attracts thousands of tourists every year who come to see that colourful houses and fortified towers. You can view the houses from the sea or there is a panoramic hiking trail called the Sentiero Azzuro (light blue trail) which connects the five villages. However, be warned, it ends with a climb up 368 steps and so is not suitable for very young children or those with mobility problems.

    1. Unique Venice

    There is nowhere quite like Venice anywhere else in the world. It is built on a lagoon and transport is via a series of canals. There no roads or cars. It’s packed with history and art and is simply the most romantic place on earth. It is best to visit out of season when it is cooler, less busy and you get to avoid all of the cruise ships that visit in the height of summer. On the other hand, in the winter it can be chilly and covered in sea mist so you will miss the beauty of the city. Early Spring is probably the best option. Don’t miss a ride in a traditional gondola but be prepared to pay a high price for it!

    1. Gorgeous Amalfi Coast and Capri

    Here you can combine relaxation with some sight-seeing. The area is steeped in culture and nature and you are never far from the breath-taking rocky coast. The first villas here date back to Roman times and there have been settlers here ever since leaving a rich tapestry of history and architecture. At one point is was one of the four Marine Republics ruling Italy. The three hotspots for tourists are the unmistakable Cathedral of Amalfi, Ravello and Postiano. Then you can head out to the wonderful island of Capris. Dubbed the ‘Garden of Eden’ this island is incredibly popular with tourists and can get very busy.  It was once home to an emperor and a monastery so there is plenty of history to discover. The best view is from the north of the island from which you can spot Vesuvius in all her glory!

    Have you ever been and is there anywhere you would recommend as a must see part of Italy?

     

     

  2. Becoming a Super Mum

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    People who do not have children think it is easy. Before we had children, I envisioned being dressed in a flowing white gown, rocking a perfect, rosy-cheeked baby as she slept soundly in my arms (or something along those lines anyway).

    This fantasy was intact for about 20 minutes after I became a mum. Soon I realized the flowing white gown was impractle and gave it up for t-shirts that could easily double for a burp cloth and sometimes a tissue.

    The rosy-cheeked little bundle of joy could break the sound barrier when teething, and the rocking chair was exchanged for a battery operated swing that you hope keeps the baby quiet long enough for mum to grab a shower at least every couple of days.

    Now that I am an experienced parent, I have learned the meaning of the word multitasking. I will share a couple of ideas with you.

    Becoming a Super Mum

    Celebrations

    Birthday parties, sleepovers, and holidays are not always easy to manage. But I have learned the easy way to handle a celebration is to set up a candy buffet. This takes the place of snacks and pastries. You simply need a table, table covering, clear vases or jars, and a theme. You order your candy based on your color scheme from an online supplier like Sweet Services.  

    This makes a beautiful setting for any celebration. And everything is reusable. For your next celebration, you simply change the theme and colours of the candy. The candy is shipped directly to you just in time and there is little set up. Perfect for busy mums with little time to spare!

    Keeping your child active

    There is nothing more important to you than the health of your child. This means you watch what they eat and you give them planned activities that keep them moving.

    Having been a dancer growing up, I love the idea of dance class. This is great exercise and it gets the kids out of the house for a while.

    To make the most of your child’s dance class experience, be sure to provide them with proper dance clothes. This is as much a mental exercise as a physical one. It signals your child to know it is time to get busy, and they look really cool at the same time.

    Balancing home repairs

    Being a family that includes children puts a strain on the household. Though we may want to live in a perfectly clean, well maintained and modern home, achieving that goal is not always easy.  Put major remodeling jobs on hold until the children are old enough to be expected to take care of their space. Until that time, repair that which is broken as needed and keep things as clean as you can and hope for the best.

    One way to keep your property value is to keep the basics up to date. It is safe to do smaller remodeling jobs such as replacing floors, updating cabinets, and replacing the sinks with modern sinks and vessels. These type of repairs allow you to maintain a better standard of home and protect your resale value.

    Final Thoughts

    It is not easy being a mum, but no matter how exhausted we are, we know that it is a job worth every effort. The key is to keep your sense of humor and roll with it. Soon enough, there will come a time when the kids are out creating their own world. Until that time. Enjoy every moment with your kids. That is all that matters.



  3. How to deal with Asthma in the changing weather temperatures

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    Asthma can be hard work at any time of the year for sufferers but the changing weather of late can make it all the more difficult. We have had some really cold snaps and the cold, dry air can be painful on the lungs and make doing the simplest task outside more arduous. Aside from the cold, dry air is the other big problem for asthma sufferers at this time of year as is the high number of respiratory and sinus infections that hang around.  Nearly every child in my daughters school has a cold at the moment, meaning avoiding those bugs can be hard work. 

    Most asthma sufferers, are eligible for a flu shot and this is another good measure to reduce the risk of getting those cold and flu bugs.  It also helps that if you do get the flu, the conditions won’t be quite as severe as they would be without the jab.

     How to deal with Asthma in the changing weather temperatures

    Combatting the cold

    It would be nice to say don’t go out in the cold during winter but this doesn’t always solve all the problems.  However, when you are outside, try to avoid opening your mouth.  This is because when you open your mouth, the cold air is sucked straight into your lungs and causes the asthma to flare up.  If you are going to be chatting while outside, wear a scarf or a muffler over your nose and mouth to reduce the impact of the cold.

    How to manage your asthma on warmer days

    The weather has been beautiful in the UK for the past few days but with increased temperatures there is also an increased risk of having an asthma attack for the 1 in 11 people in the UK who have asthma. There is a theory that warm weather can increase the amount of pollutants and mould in the air - both of which can trigger asthma symptoms

    It is great to encourage children to play in the fresh air, if a child wants to play outside, it is good to let them but try to plan any outdoor activities for earlier in the day when the air quality tends to be better.

    Have an asthma plan

    All asthma sufferers should have a plan to deal with an asthma attack and for children, this plan should be discussed with teachers and child-minders.  It involves knowing what to do if there is an attack, what medication is needed and at what point help must be sought.  Medication should also be taken any time before you go outside to help the change in air temperature – around 30 minutes beforehand is ideal if possible.

    Conclusion

    The cold, damp weather, thunderstorms, really hot weather and a sudden change in temperature can trigger symptoms for some people so while we welcome the sunshine at the moment, we need to ensure that it is not triggering asthma symptoms for the little one.

    In the meantime, we are continuing to show our support for Asthma UK which has been an invaluable resource to us and we are planning on trying to organise an Big Asthma Bake Sale for World Asthma Day on the 2nd May 2017. So, anyone for cake??

    brooke-lark-203839


  4. Nailcote Hall : Sunday Lunch Review

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    Sitting down as a family to eat is really important to us and so when Nailcote Hall invited us to choose from their Afternoon Tea or Sunday lunch experience, despite being the self crowned "Queen of Afternoon Tea", I thought it would be a lovely chance for us to all go out for lunch this Sunday afternoon.

    Nailcote HallSunday Lunch in the Oak Restauarant

    Nailcote Hall is a small English stately home, built in 1640 just before the start of the English Civil War. It is situated in Berkswell which is less than 20 miles from the centre of Birmingham but has a lovely rural feel about the locality. I have been to a number of events at the venue before from weddings and tribute nights in the marquee to fashion shows but have never experienced the restaurant for a dining experience, so we were all looking forward to our lunch!

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    The entrance to the hotel doesn't have a "contemporary feel to it, with rugs over original wooden floors it is more like you are going back in time to a place where time stands still and no one is in a rush and we were encouraged to go through to the bar area and relax, where someone would come and see us. We arrived a little after 1pm but despite being lunchtime it didn't feel hectic, although we did initially have to wait a while for someone to come and see us. We were presented with the Sunday lunch menus whereby we could sit in the comfy chairs to browse through the selections before being taken through to the restaurant. 

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    The Sunday lunch at Nailcote can be as big or as little as you like, as you can choose from 2,3 or even 4 courses depending on how hungry your stomach is.... or how much the menu tempts you. 2 courses are £24.50, £27.50 for 3 courses, rising to £29.50 for 4 courses. There is a smaller menu choice for the children and this is 3 courses for £15. 

    My eldest daughter and I choose the Fan of Cantaloupe Melon with fresh berries and home churned sorbet, which was a light and refreshing start to our meal (unsurprisingly she was particularly partial to the sorbet)

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    My husband immediately chose the Duck, Orange & Green Pepper Pate as this is something that we never tend to buy at home, although he swapped the sour dough bread that it came with, for the multitude of warm bread that was served on the table. I am personally not a big fan of pate but he was delighted with his choice and commented on the velvety texture of the pate that had non of the fatty elements that some pate's can have.

    For my main meal, I chose the Roast Leg of Lamb which is a personal favourite but as no one else in our house really likes lamb I never tend to cook it at home, so it was a real treat for me. It was accompanied by roast potatoes and mashed potatoes together with seasonal vegetables which were cooked beautifully. My husband chose the Roast Sirloin of Scottish Beef which came with the largest yorkshire pudding I have ever seen and according to him, the most melt in the mouth beef he has possibly ever tasted. The meat was carved at the table for us and presented with seperate dishes of vegetables that were served to our plates. Had my Dad been with us, he would have commented that the meat was not "piping hot" but it had clearly been left to rest and served how it should be. (It is just worth noting for any one that is like my Dad and insists on burning your tongue on your food).

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    We chose the Fresh Exotic Fruit Salad and Dark Chocolate Creme Brulee for dessert, which were light enough to find room for after such a hearty meal. The smallest member of the family asked for chocolate ice cream but we were advised that the kitchen were not happy with how the ice cream had been churned, so they would rather not serve it, she was happy to accept strawberry and vanilla as an alternative. We were impressed that so many of the foods on the menu were made and churned in house but equally, we were impressed with the honesty of the hotel that they didn't want to serve an icecream that did not meet their standards ... even if it was for a 5 year old. 

    The restaurant was quiet and relaxed, with ambient music fed into the room. It wasn't too crowded but had a nice feel to the room and we were treated to a 5* experience without being pretentious. 

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    Throughout our time at Nailcote Hall, the staff were extremely attentive and responsive, and it is always the little touches that make the Nailcote experience more than just a Sunday lunch. From the staff taking our drinks through to the restaurant, providing an extra cushion so that the youngest member of the family could sit at the same height as everyone else, to personal recommendations on the wine and dessert offerings, we really did have a relaxing and enjoyable afternoon. I was surprised to find that 2 hours had gone by and the girls hadn't once asked for any kind of electrical device at the table, as we had just sat, chatted and laughed together, which for me is what a Sunday is all about. 

    The 5 year old delighted in every part of the meal and experience today, from being personally attended to at the table, to pretending to drink wine at the table (it was obviously only water) and she declared that she would like to go to Nailcote Hall every Sunday for lunch. We received the adults meals as part of this review but had we not received any concessions, it would have cost just over £100 for today's lunch which makes it more of a special occasion venue choice than an every day meal location.

    That said, I would have no hesitation in recommending the food and service to any of our friends and it makes a perfect location for Mothers Day or a birthday celebration. We saw that there are lots of events coming up at Nailcote Hall from tribute acts to ladies day at the races, so there is always something going on (that is without the golf course facilities). We will be returning to Nailcote next month for a charity fashion show with Liliann Occasion Wear but I have no doubt that we will be going for Sunday lunch again soon (especially if the 5 year old has anything to do with it).