A Stay at a Travelodge {Birmingham Central}

A few of weeks ago we took a little trip to Birmingham for a short break. We had a lovely couple of days as a family, visiting the sea life centre and enjoying some lovely meals and just time together.

We were invited to stay at one of the many Travelodges there and we chose to stay at the Birmingham Central location based on the fact it was nice and central. We knew that it could potentially be a bit noisy at night-time (and there is a warning on the website) as there are lots of pubs and clubs all around, but we decided to stay at that one anyway. Mainly because we were only staying for a short time and it was more important to us to be right in town so that we didn’t have to get a bus or taxi everywhere, and we hoped for the best.

Travelodge Birmingham Central

We were given a room on the seventh floor at the back with very few rooms past ours (I think because we were a family), which was great as we actually heard very little noise at night, and only once were there a few noisy people going past our room. For a hotel right in the central of a city, it was very quiet which we didn’t expect and was a big plus.

Our room however unfortunately wasn’t so great. When we went in for the first time we noticed almost straight away that the carpet looked really dirty. There were many long blonde hairs on the floor which was pretty gross and it meant that we didn’t really want Ava playing on the floor which she wanted to do almost immediately. It looked like it must have been hoovered at least a little bit as I think it would have been dirtier if it hadn’t but it was still pretty dirty. The carpet in the doorway to the bathroom was completely dusty and looked like it was never hoovered.

I know we could have gone and complained but it was late in the day, we were really tired after travelling, and we needed to quickly unpack before going out and getting some dinner. So we didn’t feel like traipsing back down to reception, speaking to someone and then potentially moving all of our bags again. If we were staying for longer we would have done though.

Travelodge Birmingham Central Room

As well as the carpets a lot of the other areas were quite dirty. Some areas of the bathroom were very dusty and the remote control for the television was absolutely caked in dust; it was clearly never cleaned. I just felt like I wanted to get some anti-bacterial wipes and wipe over everything before we touched it.

I feel a bit bad writing all of this because the manager was so, so lovely and chatted to us a couple of times and even gave Ava an Easter Egg as we were leaving. He was so friendly and it seemed like he cared whether we’d had a good stay or not; exactly what you would want a hotel manager to be like.

Travelodge Birmingham Central

We could have just got a bit unlucky (although that doesn’t explain the remote control etc) and had a very poor cleaner doing our room the first night, as when we got back after being out the first day our room had been cleaned and it was actually way cleaner that it had been when we got there. The floor was much better and luckily I’d had a bit of wine whilst we were out so could relax about it all a bit more.

On the positive side the beds were completely clean and comfy and I actually had a great nights sleep the first night which is unusual for me.

Travelodge Birmigham Central

We were given the breakfast boxes which contained a decent amount of food, including either a yoghurt or cereal, a cereal bar, a muffin and a juice and are £4.45. I think they are a good option and a decent price if you are leaving early and want to get something in your belly before you go. They are certainly not a healthy option (even the ‘healthier’ muffin doesn’t contain very good ingredients) and so for me they weren’t great, but they were good to have to pick bits from or for a snack later on, and I can understand that they couldn’t easily provide boxes with healthy and natural products at a semi-decent price.

The room in general was as you’d expect from a Travelodge; basic and not exactly cosy, but great for a cheap stay in a city for a couple of nights. If our room had have been a lot cleaner everything would have been great. This hotel is in a good location, close to the Sealife Centre, the Bullring, and bars and restaurants. The reception was nice and spacious and our room was in a good location within the hotel which meant that we heard little noise from the other guests, which was great having a young child with us, and I think we were probably given this room based on the fact we were a family. The room had well-stocked tea and coffee and a kettle.

Ava in Travelodge Birmingham CentralAva chilling in a Travelodge

The reception has three self-check in machines, although at the time we were there, two of them were out of order. The staff (including the people on reception, the manager and a cleaner) were lovely, friendly and chatty and made us feel very welcome.

View from Birmingham Central Travelodge

I would possibly stay at a Travelodge again, as I haven’t had these issues before and they are usually a great budget option, and are all around the country. But I would be a bit worried about what the room was going to be like, and I think I would only book there for a short break, which is a shame.

We were given a two night stay at Birmingham Central Travelodge in exchange for a review. All thoughts and opinions are honest (clearly) and my own or my family’s.

Wedding Planning: The Three Month Countdown

My frame of mind right now would be described as terrified, panicked, anxious. Sunday marked the three month (THREE MONTHS!!!!) countdown to our wedding. Do you think anyone has ever not finished planning their wedding before, and just not had things like a cake or any decorations, left the sweet table empty and had naked bridesmaids? Or will I be the first? (Sorry bridesmaids.)


I know it will be ok, and I will get it done. Ava starts nursery for two and a half days a week from next week so I can spend almost a whole day each week if need be doing wedding stuff until it is all done. But until then I am really feeling anxious about it all.

We have sorted or started to sort a couple of the bigger things that remain this week. We are meeting up with the lady doing our flowers soon, and I am speaking to a lady about our cake. And we are going to speak to a jewellers about our rings next week. So we have people booked in and know they are available for all of the bigger bits now, which is great, but I have a list of approximately a million smaller things that are making my brain explode. A lot of that list is buying things which is easy enough, but for a lot of it I am not exactly sure what I am buying, for example decorations for the venue.

I am struggling with the theme a bit at the moment too. I use the term ‘theme’ loosely as we don’t really have a definite theme; more of a colour scheme and style. I just haven’t been able to find the right things that I like and are the right colour (and price). But again, once I have time from next week that should be a lot easier.

I feel like I am in limbo this week just waiting for Ava to start nursery so that I can get on with things properly. I am not sleeping well at all at the moment (same old, same old) so I don’t have the energy in the evenings to get wedding stuff done, which is a pain. And I think I feel worse about there being so much to do because I am so tired. I know realistically we have time to get it all done, but my silly old head is telling me otherwise.

Oh and we haven’t sent out our wedding invitations yet either! I am not too worried about them as we sent save the dates out ages ago, so everyone knows about it, but I obviously can’t do the table plan until people have RSVP’d. Our invites will be going out in the next couple of weeks though, and it will be a huge relief when that happens.Can anyone out there tell me that you felt the same way and that it all worked out ok in the end? Pretty please even if it’s a lie!?

The countdown is on!

Linking up with Twinkly Tuesday, All About You, Share With Me, The Mad Mid Week Blog Hop, and PoCoLo.


Dungarees and Divergent #LittleLoves

We started off this week with the little one being poorly again with a sickness bug, which was horrible as always. By the second day of not keeping anything down she was so lethargic and upset at how crappy she felt; it was not nice.

But she is all better now and today she has gone out for the entire day with her Granny. They are apparently going to the park and then having a picnic before her tap and ballet class. I’d love to be out in the sunshine with them, but this means I get to catch up on everything that I fell behind on over the weekend whilst my girl was poorly, which is great. I really REALLY can’t wait until Ava starts nursery in a couple of weeks so I can start to catch up on life!



I came across ‘The Health Minded‘ blog this week via a linky and it is really my sort of thing. I love posts like ‘5 Healthy Spoonfuls I Eat Every Day‘ and ‘How To Tell If It Is a Migraine Headache & New Remedies To Treat Them‘. That kind of thing is so interesting to me.


We have actually watched two films this week which is unusual for us. The first was Divergent. I loved the book so I was looking forward to watching the movie, and it was alright but I was a little disappointed. I felt like the relationship between the characters and the build up of it was a central part of the story in the book and I loved that whole part of it. But it just wasn’t emphasised enough in the film which I thought was a shame. Also, so much of the book was missed out so it just didn’t work as well. I know for a book to be made into a film some bits have to change, but they took out such big chunks and bits so important to the actual story, that it was nowhere near as powerful and I think the ending was rushed.

The second film we watched was ‘Chef’, which was really easy to watch, fun and lighthearted but with a nice story. I really liked it. And, oh my gosh don’t watch it if you are hungry (although I wasn’t hungry and I still wanted all the food #fatpig), there is so much gorgeous food to lust over (the meat!). It also has great music in it and we may have participated (both of us!) in a singalong or too! Sexxxxxual heeeeealing……

Here is the trailer if you’d like to see….


I recently got some dungarees and I couldn’t wait to wear them. I felt a bit weird in them all day just because they felt so different (to my normal uniform of boring skinny jeans and t-shirt!), so I had to keep reminding myself that I liked them when I looked in the mirror! I really want to wear some clothes that are a little bit different for me. I have recently become really bored with my clothes for everyday, but I think it’s just because I am always in a rush and I have to throw on something quick. I think in summer it is a lot easier to vary your wardrobe, so I can’t wait to dig out my summer clothes.

I love it when the weather starts to warm up and you get thinking about your summer clothes and keep remembering bits that you love that you had forgotten about!

Ava has worn this cute hat from Morgana’s lovely kids accessories shop Little and Fierce….

Ava in Little and Fierce HatAva in hat

We also got this gorgeous clip from Little and Fierce.

Clip from Little and Fierce

It is so pretty and when I saw that the liberty print design is called ‘Ava’ I had to buy them!


I really enjoyed the music from ‘Chef’ and was singing the songs for ages after I watched it. I even thought about buying the soundtrack and I still might. It is just such feelgood music that you just want to dance to.


Raw Chocolate Hearts

I have made quite a few foody bits this week. Ava and I made our raw chocolate hearts again (they didn’t last long), and I have also made a healthy chocolate mousse that was so good! It was a bit like a Gü Pot – which I bloody adore. They are made with avocado, but they don’t taste like it at all, and are really quick and simple to make with a blender. The boy and I loved them but Ava wasn’t too keen. You could tell she really wanted to like it, but I think it was a bit too strong or bitter for her; she kept licking it!

I have also made a healthy chocolate milkshake a couple of times to try to get rid of my chocolate cravings in the evenings. I love it that they are quick and easy to make and really nice too, as well as being healthy. I just make it with almond milk, bananas, and raw cacao powder. I also throw in some chia seeds sometimes and you could also put some vanilla powder in there, or some honey or other sweetener if you aren’t already sweet enough ;)

I also got a Zoodle Chef Spiralizer this week after reading Esther’s ‘Little Loves’ post from last week. It’s brilliant as it’s so small and easy to use. I have so far made carrot and parsnip crisps with it which were really lovely. So good in fact that I made them twice one lunchtime! I had planned on saving the second lot for another time and so the boy could try them but I devoured them instead.

I seriously bloody love snacks and chocolate-oriented food that are easy to make and actually pretty good for you rather than the opposite. Guilt-free chocolate is the best!

I blogger-failed though and didn’t take pictures of any of this stuff! It’s ok, I’ll just have to make them again!

And lastly….

You are brilliantSource

Thanks for reading!



Post Comment Love

A Fairtrade Adventure With The Co-op

We have probably all seen some Fairtrade products on the supermarket shelves, but do you actually know what Fairtrade involves and whether it is worth choosing an item that is Fairtrade over something that isn’t?


Fairtrade wine bottles


Fairtrade is about better prices, decent working conditions, local sustainability and fair terms of trade for farmers and workers in developing countries. Producers of Fairtrade products also receive a Fairtrade premium – a sum of money paid on top of the Fairtrade price which is invested in projects in their communities. Projects funded typically support education and healthcare, farm improvements to increase yield and quality, or processing facilities to increase income.

The Co-operative was the first major retailer to champion Fairtrade and have since led the way on bringing Fairtrade products to market. They have also converted many of the Co-operative’s own-brand products to 100% Fairtrade; like chocolate, tea and coffee.

Fairtrade bananas at Matlock Food store

In March the Co-op sent blogger Amanda Barnes to the Bosman family Vineyard in South Africa to experience the difference Fairtrade makes, firsthand. This vineyard has been a supplier of The Co-operative’s Fairtrade wine since 2011, and the premiums they have received have funded a number of things, including:


  • A fully operational pre-school
  • A new school bus enabling students to get to school
  • A new library and community centre
  • Computer training, literacy and scholarship programmes including three classrooms and a computer training centre
  • A Counselling room and Drug Rehabilitation programme
  • A Health clinic


Watching the videos of Amanda’s trip show what a difference Fairtrade has made and is continuing to make to these people’s lives. It is not just about the workers; it is about their children, their family and also about building up the entire community.

A Fairtrade Adventure

Amanda spoke to some workers at the health centre and they talked about how before they had the clinic, patients who came in for a test such as a urine test or even an HIV test would have to go behind a tree for a bit of privacy as there was nowhere completely private for them to have the test done. Can you even imagine that? The things that we take for granted are something so wonderful for them that is making a huge difference to their lives and it makes you want to help by buying Fairtrade doesn’t it?

Fairtrade money in this area has also allowed children to do Karate after school which helps to keep them away from activities like drugs as well as sex abuse; which are problems there. A school bus allows children to get to school safely and on time. There is now a pre-school which means the children can start to learn key skills which they wouldn’t otherwise have until they are six or seven (the age children start school here). All of these things that have been funded by Fairtrade premiums are helping to improve and shape the community here and give these people better lives.


For the workers Fairtrade means that they are more involved in the business and can choose how to spend their Fairtrade premium. The Adama Workers Trust allows the employees to own a part of the business. It gives them a sense of pride and higher self-esteem and they have more aspiration to work because they are involved in all aspects of it and they are treated more fairly than they would be working elsewhere. They are given regular breaks, have plenty of water available and can use toilets brought to them in the vineyards. It makes a big difference to them and to their families.

When you choose to buy a product with the Fairtrade Mark you are supporting the farmers and workers to improve their lives and their communities. The Fairtrade mark means that the ingredients in the product have been produced by small-scale farmer organisations or plantations that meet the Fairtrade social, economic and environmental standards. These standards include protection of the workers’ rights and the environment, payment of Fairtrade minimum price and the additional premium to invest in business or community projects.

Personally I didn’t really know an awful lot about Fairtrade and what it actually meant before researching for this post. I recognised the Fairtrade Mark but I had no idea of exactly what it involved or how much of a difference it could make. Now that I know what it involves and the huge difference it can make to people’s lives and the communities involved, I will make an effort to lookout for the mark and to buy Fairtrade where possible.

Fairtrade products are sold in every Co-operative Food store across the British Isles and are usually only a few pence more than other similar products (sometimes they no more expensive), so it’s an easy switch to make to help change people’s futures and to know that the workers involved in creating the product have been paid fairly.

You can watch the videos from Amanda’s trip to South Africa here: A Fairtrade Adventure

This is a collaborative post.

Country Walks, Judgement, and Rachel Bilson #LittleLoves

Oh this last week has been a rather lovely one. I am very much enjoying the sunshine and lighter evenings; it is as though a switch is flipped on inside me as soon as the sun comes out and I am just so much happier.

We had a really nice and pretty busy Easter weekend, well, except for Ava waking up after both of us having a terrible nights sleep, coming downstairs and throwing up all over two big blankets and herself and I was four washing loads behind all of a sudden. We thought “well that’s our Easter plans ruined” (we always make sure we stay positive) and took it in turns to prop up our poorly toddler. Luckily and fantastically she was all better a few hours later and plans were resumed. (It’s weird being sick for a few hours though don’t you think? The same thing happened to her when we were in Bluestone, but you would think that with either a bug or food poisoning that she would be ill for twenty-four hours at least.)

We had a lovely family walk in a new country park in our area, destroyed our first ice-creams of the year and enjoyed the odd bursts of sunshine. The only thing that ruined it was that Ava had spotted the ice-cream van at the beginning of our walk and even though we had already said we would have one at the end she grumbled all the way around and didn’t massively enjoy the walk (I could have sworn she is three, not fourteen).

On Easter Monday we had lunch at our local pub with the boys family and indulged in a bit more Prosecco, and then we walked it all off (or the carrots at least) with a long stroll by the river in the rather chilly sunshine.

The boy has now actually been away for a couple of days but Ava and I have spent lots of time with my mum and step-dad, including going with my mum to try my wedding dress on again (my mum seeing it for the first time!) along with some shoes and jewellery I have bought. It was lovely seeing it all put a bit more together and it was especially lovely seeing that I have actually lost some weight and all the exercise I have been doing is paying off. I knew I was starting to get more toned but I couldn’t really tell if I was any slimmer, but the sample dress was looser this time.


I have read a couple of magazines this week (the highbrow one’s like Heat and Closer) for the first time in ages. I love magazines but I usually buy them and end up not having chance to read them so I hardly ever get them anymore. I don’t know what changed (maybe I put my phone down for once) but these last few days I have enjoyed browsing them and getting updated on all the important celeb gossip.


I have got back into Hart of Dixie again and have been binge watching it and never going to bed. This is why I try to stop myself from going to Netflix in the evenings. Once I start I can’t stop. Anyway, if you haven’t seen it; it’s a bit silly, easy to watch and Rachel Bilson is in it, and I have loved her since The O.C days. I also love all the deep south American accents and I love the character Lemon.

Hart of DixieSource

I also really want to take Ava to the cinema for the first time and see Cinderella, but we haven’t had time yet.


Slightly less layers – yay! And also my thin-ish leather jacket instead of a big coat. I feel like a snake shedding my layers, as I shed my winter layers.

Ava has been wearing all the patterns, and furry ears….

Ava in all the patterns

I have heard myself yelling at Ava quite a bit over the last few days, which is not nice. I have been really tired, but she has been a little monster this week! She is particularly bad when her Granny is here because she thinks she can just do what she wants and not listen to me. But she just keeps completely ignoring me and making a mess on purpose; like throwing a pack of snap cards across the room because she knows I have told her not to. Little bugger.


…..a decision about whether I am going to wear a veil at my wedding or not!

And lastly….

I have read a few blog posts this week that were quite judgey about other bloggers and how they blog; suggesting mummy bloggers are all sweet and saccharine for example and only sharing the good bits of parenthood therefore duping their readers and other such nonsense and judgements, and it all made me quite cross, so……

a little more kindnessSource