As you’ll know by now my festive spirit is already alive and kicking. My heart leaps with joy at the sights and sounds of Christmas that are starting to creep in all around me. So when I was recently offered the opportunity to try a festive coffee blend I jumped at the chance. Being a mummy to a young baby who feeds two hourly during the night I need a coffee to get me going in the morning! Before I moved in with hubby instant coffee was my go to drink, however having lived with him for almost 10 years now my coffee tastes have changed. I describe him as a coffee snob as he really knows his coffee. He’s been through a fair few machines before settling on the one we have now. So although I know what I like coffee wise hubby will also be having his say on this one!

The coffee we were tasting was ‘Reindeer Rocket’ by the Big Cup Little Cup company who produce nespresso compatible capsules. As it was weekend hubby decided to try a new ‘duffin’ recipe he had found to go along with the coffee – I wasn’t going to say no to cake!

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Once the cakes were made and decorated we opened up the coffee, I was delighted to see that each nespresso compatible capsule was wrapped up like a little Christmas present. I love that the packaging has been thought about so carefully, with its tiny stamp label. I think they look fab in our coffee jar it just needs a red ribbon now to complete the festive look!

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Reindeer Rocket is recommended to be served as a lungo, so with fresh water in the machine I set about making two coffees, one with a splash of milk for me as I like my coffee white and a black one for hubby.

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Reindeer Rocket tasting notes:

Reindeer Rocket is a limited edition rich coffee with an intense flavour. Arabica beans from Southern Brazil and Central America and Southern Indian Robusta beans create a powerful and bold coffee with flavours of dark chocolate and chestnut that lingers with a sweet, smoky finish on the palate.

It’s a 9 on the strength scale.

My opinion: I really liked the coffee, I’m not normally one to have the higher end coffees on the strength scale but with a splash of milk I really enjoyed the flavours of the coffee.It has a lovely bold flavour which isn’t particularly bitter as I find some of the stronger coffees to be. I can imagine it will be my go to coffee over the festive season, especially if Flixster keeps me up every two hours, every night as he has been doing!

Hubby’s opinion: The coffee has a bold taste that’s offset by a subtle sweetness that is the signature of a great Christmas blend coffee.

Big cup little cup have offered readers of my blog a chance to get 15% off their first order using the code LYRICAL15 there are plenty of coffees to choose from and the Reindeer Rocket will be launched soon – keep your eyes open for that one!

www.bigcuplittlecup.com

 

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I was sent a sample of Reindeer Rocket for the purpose of this review but we have purchased from them before and have always been impressed with the coffees and the speed of delivery. All the opinions expressed are my own and truthful.

If you’ve read my blog before you’ll know that I love Christmas. It’s my all time favourite holiday season. I’ve always loved Christmas time even before having the children, but since having the boys it’s become even more magical. As the boy is growing up and beginning to understand things a little more he is beginning to believe in the magic of Christmas. This year will be his 4th Christmas, he’ll be 3 years 4 months on Christmas day this year, and I couldn’t be more excited! So when I was recently given the chance to review a letter sent from the big man himself I jumped at the chance. I have already published a post about ordering our letters from the Lapland Mailroom which can be found here. As I had ordered our letters early when they arrived I kept them to one side until today so that I knew the boy would be here when it landed on the door mat. He loves collecting the post for me and we play a game where he identifies the names on each letter to tell us if it’s for mummy or daddy. So I couldn’t think of a more appropriate day than today, a rainy Saturday morning with no particular plans but to stay in our pyjamas snuggled up warm inside! He’d put on his little monkey onesie and was ready for a morning playing with Flixster and his toys. When I heard the postman I beat him to the door and switched our normal post for his special letter before letting him discover it for himself.

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He was so excited to find a letter addressed to him! He was able to recognise his name and couldn’t quite believe it was post for him!

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The letter was quite thick which made it exciting to open, we sat down together to discover what was inside. We found a personalised letter along with a Christmas card to colour, a tree decoration, a door hanger, a stop here sign, an activity sheet and a nice child certificate.

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He knew from the picture on the letter that it was from Father Christmas!

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He wanted me to read it to him and his eyes lit up when I read the parts containing Flixster’s name. It really was lovely to watch him listen so intently to the letter being read to him. We looked at the rest of the package together and he instantly decided that he wanted to start colouring straight away so I got out his crayons and pens as he had requested.

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He wanted to cut out the tree decoration himself but as we don’t have any children’s scissors yet Daddy had to do it whilst he watched on. That’s another thing for the Christmas list though! He spent quite a while colouring in and kept looking back at the letter to point out his name.

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What a lovely way to spend a morning together, we had a good talk about Christmas still being quite a long time away but the letter has started to build the excitement. I suppose I’ll only have a limited number of years that the boys will still believe in Father Christmas so I’m going to enjoy it while I can. The magic of Christmas will always be alive in our house because as the Muppets sing in my all time favourite Christmas film “Wherever you find love it feels like Christmas!”

The lovely people at Lapland Mailroom have offered one blog reader the chance to win their very own personalised letter from Santa as well as an activity pack, just enter below, and if you’re not lucky enough to win then you can use the code ‘xmas2014promo’ for 10% off your order. Letters start from just £6.95 and are posted within 3 days.

I was sent a letter for the boy for the purpose of this review but all the opinions expressed about it are my own and truthful.

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As its half term this week all my baby groups and regular activities are off so instead of spending the week cooped up indoors which is hard work with children, today I arranged to meet a friend who has a similar age baby to Flixster at a garden centre local to me. The garden centre is called Bents and is well-known in the north-west area. I haven’t been for a few months and was surprised when I arrived to see that its undergoing a massive transformation and expansion. I’m not sure when the expected completion date is but it’s looking great so far. Bents is well-known for its fabulous must see Christmas displays and I know that the countdown to Christmas has really started once Bents put out their displays.
As I arrived at Bents I also noticed that they have put in a new large roundabout to improve access to the car park. It’s made it far easier to get in and out of the newly expanded car park. Although its half term and extremely busy I headed towards the back of the car park and easily found somewhere to park. We’d arranged to meet for lunch at the cafe as it has a fab reputation locally as great place to eat. The queue was quite large but moved at a steady pace, we skipped the sandwiches and hot food in favour of the ‘Cream Tea for Two’ which was £12.50. You got a large scone each, four strawberries, two pots of jam, two pots of clotted cream and a large pot of tea to share.

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The scones were lovely, although I did have to keep them out of reach of Flixster as he kept trying to grab for them. We’ve just started baby led weaning as he is now 28 weeks. I gave him some of the strawberry instead which he seemed to love, I’m not sure how well the red stains will come out of his vest but that’s part of the fun! After we’d eaten and drank our tea Flixster was getting tired so we had a little wander. My friend had an appointment so had to leave, we said our goodbyes and I gently rocked Flixster for a few minutes whilst he nodded off in the pram. This gave me a chance to have a proper look around.
I love Christmas time, its my favourite holiday season. I’ve always loved this time of year and the magical build up. Since having Children its become even more special.I love the decorations and making my home feel magical inside and out. I love getting the decorations out each year, remembering where and when we bought each one. We always buy one or two special tree decorations each year to add to our collections so I have already begun the hunt for just the right one. The Christmas displays at Bents are amazing. There are lots of room displays with enormous amount of attention to detail.

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There are lots of dressed trees to look at and the floor space given over to Christmas is amazing. There is everything you could ever need to make your home feel Christmassy and fantastic. I looked around the undressed trees as we are looking to buy a new tree this year. Normally I have an artificial 6ft tree and we place it on a small table so that it touches the ceiling. As a child I always remember the Christmas tree being taller than I was, these days being 6ft myself its pretty hard to find trees taller than I am. This year we have changed our living room furniture so have even less room for a tree so I am looking to buy a slim or pencil tree. The artificial trees in Bents where plentiful and I really liked that they were all clearly labelled with height, base diameter and price. It really helped anyone who was looking to easily identify something suitable.

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After looking at the trees I went to look at the miniature village display. I like to look each year at all the little models, people must spend years collecting them. I wouldn’t have room for them in my house but I do like to look each year at the fabulous displays Bents put together.

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As the weather is so nice still I took the opportunity to go outside to look at the plants. I don’t have a large garden and I barely get time these days with the boys to do any gardening but I really enjoy looking at the various plants. The displays were lovely to look at and I enjoyed a walk over to have a look at the children’s play area. From the plans it looks like they are also going to be making a conservation area at the back of the centre that people will be able to walk around. I’ll look forward to that next year.

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The new outdoor play area looks great for children and I can’t wait to take the boy, I hope we have some more nice days this year so we can go back during term time and have a play. The cafe has also been extended outside onto a raised area which I imagine in the summer is a beautiful place to sit and look over the lake.

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Flixster had begun to wake up so I headed back inside and made my way to the parents room which is located at the back of the cafe. I have used the room before so knew which way to go. I went in and had a quick look at the food area, from the plans I noticed that this is going to be extended to incorporate local producers which is going to be great. Since I was last here the displays have altered and instead of high shelving the produce is now displayed on pallets which look great. I didn’t have a good chance to look at all the food as Flixster was starting to tell me he was hungry. Hopefully I can have a proper look next time I visit.

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I found the parents room and thankfully they have provided two seats for feeding babies. I’m happy to breastfeed anywhere but as I’d already used the cafe I thought I’d feed in the parents room as Flixster gets easily distracted these days when feeding so a quiet calm environment is ideal. The room was lovely and clean with two nappy changing beds. There is a small toilet cubicle and another cubicle with a chair and lockable door, ideal if you are a mum not comfortable with feeding in public. There’s also another chair available in the main changing room. I fed Flixster and then changed him. There are two sink areas which were also very clean and had lovely toiletries provided. It is a big thumbs up from me for the services they provide to parents. Very clean, comfortable and spacious, just what mummies and daddies need!

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Once Flixster was settled back into the pram I took him for a look at the Christmas lights. He’s at an age where he’s fascinated by lights, especially ones that flash or change. There are plenty to look at in Bents. I loved watching his face as he marvelled at the different colours and displays.

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I love having lights up at Christmas. Last year was the first time I put some up outside and the boy loved coming home from nursery to see the lights. I found some battery-powered ones that only came on at night-time which were powered by two AA batteries that claimed to last for 30 days, in reality I did have to change the batteries after about 20 days but still I was impressed that I didn’t have to plug them into the mains. I can’t wait to get them out again this year! Once we’d finished being wowed by the light displays we headed out via the new craft shop. I love having a go at new crafts and enjoying myself just losing an hour or two in making something so I was thrilled to see the new shop had opened within the ongoing extension work. I didn’t have much time but did try to survey what they are going to be selling. I think they are still setting up as some of the shelves looked a little empty. What I did see though made me want to return soon to take a closer look, perhaps when I have someone else with me to watch the boys for a few minutes!

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Time was marching on so we exited the shop to start making our way home. I’m very much looking forward to going back again soon (although perhaps during term time when its a little quieter) to have another good nosey around. The new extension is looking promising and once it’s fully open will make a great addition to an already lovely place to visit. I’ve always found the staff to be visible and as always today was no exception, if I had needed any help then I’m confident I would have found someone quickly and easily. Even on such a busy day I noticed lots of staff out and about helping other people. Bents certainly know how to treat their customers well, a key to it’s already great reputation.

If you’re ever in the north-west then it’s a highly recommended day out and I can’t wait to go back soon with both boys and hubby!

 

www.bents.co.uk

I know many people don’t like to think about Christmas too early in the year. I’m not one of those people! I love Christmas. I love everything about it. The excitement, the decorations, the religious meaning. I really enjoy planning for Christmas and since having children its been made so much more magical in our home. As a child I remember Christmas being the most amazing day of the year, my mum and dad must have put so much unseen effort into making it a special day for myself and my brother, something I want to pass on to my children. I want them to grow up remembering the fun family times we have had a Christmas. The magic starts early in our house with writing letters to Santa (or Father Christmas as I like to call him in our home) so when I was given the opportunity to receive letters from the big man himself I jumped at the chance. The company I have used is called Lapland Mail Room and they can be found here.The elves ship letters worldwide from the website!

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The website itself has a lovely Christmassy feel and is easy to navigate around. Prices start form £6.95 for each letter, theres even an option for a babies first Christmas letter which I think is a lovely idea. Once you click through to order your letter there are lots of easy to use personalisation options with prompts given at each stage, you also get the option to add your own “P.S” at the end of the letter, and with 255 character allowance theres plenty of room to add something special about your child. My favourite option is a drop down box to choose what you call the big man in your house. I prefer Father Christmas so that is what I picked for our letters. Once you have gone through the easy personalisation you can review your letter.

The whole letter appears on screen and as you hover over various parts of the letter a magnifying glass appears so that you can review the text. Once you’re happy with the letter you can go through to pay for it. I particularly liked that paypal is accepted as a form of payment even if you don’t have an account. I added two letters to my basket and finalised the order. I can’t wait to receive them! I hope the boy is as excited as I was as a child to have his own letter drop onto our door mat! I’m hoping when the boys are older that they too pass on the magic of the festive season to their own children if they choose to have them.

www.laplandmailroom.com

 

I am being sent our letters from Father Christmas for the purpose of this review.

 

This week we are lucky enough to have Daddy off work for three days, two of the days the boy is going to be carrying on at nursery and on Friday we will all spend a family day together. Keeping the boy in nursery means that Daddy gets to spend some quality time with Flixster and we can go look at and buy some Christmas presents for the boy. This morning we decided to go and have breakfast out somewhere which is not something we often do. I love breakfast, I think it is my favourite meal of the day. As a breastfeeding mummy I get so hungry in the night and have a rumbly tumbly each morning. I’ve always loved breakfast especially cereal and we often have a vast array of cereals in the house. I could eat it morning noon and night (and have been known to!) So as we were discussing it last night I was googling places to go and Harvester popped up. We have 3 different harvester restaurants local to us so we picked the one that was on the way to the place we were going today. Daddy dropped the boy off at nursery and came back to pick us up. I was very happy to see this sign in the door taking proud of place, as we arrived.

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I’m happy to feed anywhere but I hope that this sign makes other mummies who may feel uncomfortable feeding in public a little more comfortable. No matter if you’re bottle or breastfeeding, babies should be able to eat when they are hungry and mummies should be free to feed anyway they choose without being worried about anyone else.

We arrived not long after 9am and we were the first people in today. It had been open since 8am but it is midweek so I wouldn’t have expected it to be busy. Not long after we arrived other people started to arrive too. We were seated at a table of our choosing and offered a highchair which we politely declined as Flixster isn’t sitting up yet or eating any solids. Our waitress explained the new menu. I don’t know what they offered before but it is apparently now unlimited which is new with a choice of continental (£2.99)  or continental and cooked items (£4.99). Unlimited drinks of tea, filter coffee and juice was an additional £2.25. After both choosing the cooked option and unlimited drinks we went off to see what was on offer. The usual salad bar had cold  breakfast items which you help yourself to rather than salad as it does for lunch and dinner. The menu listed all these items too but I noticed somethings were on the menu but not out on the bar. There was however still lots of choice including fresh fruit, yoghurt and pancakes.

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Over on the other side of the room there was a table set up with a large toaster where you could put a choice of bread, crumpets or muffins through. This was also where the drinks were on offer. There was two large jugs of filter coffee and a good selection of tea bags.

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The toaster and coffee

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The crumpets and muffins

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Coffee and tea

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Tea selection and decaf coffee

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Juice and milk

Everything was lovely and clean and looked and felt fresh.

I started with a small bowl of muesli (I tried to start a little bit healthy!) from the cold bar and I took a couple of pancakes over to the toaster to warm them up and pour a little syrup on top. There were all sorts of toppings for toast including Nutella and Marmite. Whilst we enjoyed the cold items we ordered our hot breakfast items from the waitress, you can have whatever you want from the list which included lots of different potato and egg choices.

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We both made our choices and finished up our cold items. The pancakes and syrup were lovely and hubby said the crumpets were nice too. The hot breakfast didn’t take long and was exactly what we had ordered. I’m not keen on meat so I ordered the cheese and leek sausage instead of the meat sausage. I did have the bacon and was hoping it wouldn’t be greasy. It was in fact just perfect, nicely cooked and not greasy at all.

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The scrambled eggs were lovely and creamy and the mushrooms had a lovely flavour. I loved the veggie sausage although would only have one next time as I was truly stuffed! We rarely have breakfast out so really enjoyed treating ourselves. It was past 10 by the time we were ready to leave so we had been there well over an hour. The total came to £14.48 which I think was really good value for money considering what we had enjoyed and the time we had been there. I would definitely return again some time, I think the boy would love it too. I imagine weekends do get busier and having to wait a while to use the toaster (as you do in hotels) may not make it quite as fun but I guess I’ll have to go back sometime and see.

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Overall we really enjoyed ourselves, the food was lovely and a really good choice to suit all tastes, the place was clean and the service was good. The price was just right and I would certainly be recommending the harvester breakfast to friends, I hope that we can go back again soon with the boy to see what he thinks!

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This past weekend I made a trip to the Baby and Toddler Show at Eventcity Manchester with my good friend Jenny from Lets Talk Mommy. I had won tickets in a giveaway on another parenting blog and was looking forward to having a nosey around the various stalls of companies large and small. I have been previously and knew what to expect of the day. I arranged to meet Jenny in Starbucks for breakfast before the show, as usual I was running late so text her as I was leaving to say I’d be there soon. Unfortunately her son had been poorly during the night so she too was running late, we ended up arriving at roughly the same time. I had a pumpkin spiced latte and pumpkin loaf. I love pumpkin spiced lattes but they are an occasional treat for me as I know they are quite calorific so try not to have them all the time. I love autumn and winter time so I know once Starbucks start promoting the PSL its time for the seasons to change!
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We had breakfast and chatted about the children then headed over to the show. The line to get in was long but moved quickly, once inside we headed straight to the changing area as Flixster was getting grouchy. I didn’t bring the boy with me as he’d have been bored and would have a much better time at home with daddy. The changing area was well equipped with complimentary disposable nappies, wipes and Vital Acquaint Sanitising spray. I haven’t seen or used this product before so thought I’d give it a go, I used it to wipe down the surface after changing. It certainly seemed to act like water with no sticky residue, I’d definitely be looking out for it in the shops so that I can give it a try around the house. I’m a sucker for cleaning products, especially baby friendly ones! After a quick change we swapped sides and went into the feeding area, as a breastfeeding mummy I love it when comfortable seating is provided for me to feed baby in, I certainly wasn’t disappointed at the show, I managed to bag myself a nice rocking chair to feed in. As I was first into the area this was great, I think later on in the day then it may have been harder as there were only two rocking chairs as far as I could see and some other softer seating, so I hope for future shows that they provide a few more comfortable chairs to feed in. After Flixster had finished we headed back into the main show area to begin exploring all the stalls. There were major brands showing there alongside some much smaller companies which was great. I love to see new products and find that getting hands on at show and seeing demonstrations live really helps me to remember them. The show seemed busy but I was able to move around freely which was great. I had Flixster in a baby sling but even the mummies and daddies with prams and pushchairs had room to move which was great. I tried to avoid the large area of prams and buggies on display as I already own three myself and I don’t think the hubby would be happy if I told him I wanted another one, I do really enjoy trying new prams though so best to steer clear!
One of the highlights of the show for me personally was seeing the OnetoOne Midwife stand. When I was pregnant with Flixster I referred myself to the fabulous service of OnetoOne midwives as I am very lucky to live in an area that they currently provide services to, free of charge to pregnant ladies. My main midwife wasn’t at the show on the day I attended but my secondary midwife was so it was lovely to see her again there. I was on the look out for some new dribble bibs for Flixster at the show and I wasn’t disappointed, there were at least two stands selling them but I chose to buy from a company I’d never heard of before called Zippy Bibs as they had a large selection of Christmas bibs and I am absolutely mad for Christmas, it’s my absolute favourite time of year, I have fond memories of Christmas as a child and find its even more magical now I have children of my own. So I bought at least 3 Christmas themed bibs in my selection.

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Jenny didn’t really have much on her shopping list but did buy a new changing bag or as she would say in her lovely american accent ‘Diaper bag’ from Mia Tui. Last year I bought a lovely change bag from them at the show so I wasted no time in recommending them to Jenny who does a lot of travelling with her children. Their bags are great for everyday use as a handbag as well as a change bag and are ideal for travelling. I will do a review of mine soon, but as it’s in everyday use I’d need to find time to empty it out properly, its like a Tardis! As there’s so many lovely colour choices Jenny took her time to decide on a beautiful autumnal coloured one that will go with anything.

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Jenny and I spent quite a lot of time at various stalls and by the time we had finished looking around and shopping our tummies were rumbling so we headed oer to the Trafford centre for some lunch before heading our separate ways to go home.

The baby and toddler show was a fun day out but I’m not sure it would have been worth the £15 price per ticket, in the run up to the show there were lots of ticket offers flying about so if you can get a discount on future shows then I’d highly recommend it to expectant parents and parents of young children. I didn’t notice many products for toddlers but I’m sure this may change in future years as it certainly seemed busy this year so I’d hope that in future this would attract even more brands and products to the show. I’m looking forward to visit again in future as Flixster gets older!

The Day that

The Day That – A beautiful gift picture for any special day

I wanted to write about something that I’ve bought thats very close to my heart. I have not been paid by the company to write this, nor do I have any connection to them at all except my love of their work.

I first discovered this company when they were exhibiting at a baby show that I attended a good 3 years ago now. I was so overwhelmed by their work that I kept their leaflet for ages in a draw.
Their idea is amazing, you can buy a sunrise picture from any date special to you in the last 8 years. Each morning for the last 8 years someone from their company (and I get the impression its not a large company by any means so thats a lot of hard work and dedication) has gone down to the coastline in West Cornwall and taken several sunrise photographs. Can you imagine that everyday no matter what time or weather conditions having to get up and out, and just take a moment to realise that in summer sunrise is very early. I am in awe of the people that in the middle of winter have to leave their cosy beds to make sure they get that perfect picture, as for someone, somewhere in the world that day will be their first on this earth.

The Day That

When I first saw the pictures of the sunrise the first day I became Mummy I had tears in my eyes. That day was so special to myself and my husband, our lives changed for the better in so many ways and what better way to remember it than with a picture of the sunrise that morning. Not only is it a beautiful shot but it means so much.

When our second son came along of course I couldn’t wait to see his sunrise too. My view of the sun that morning was from the birthing pool in our lounge looking out over our garden and as beautiful as that view and his birth was the sun rising over the calm sea in Cornwall makes for a better photograph to hang on the wall.

I have hung them both at the top of our stairs, so each new day and each evening and time in between I am reminded of the days that our lives changed, just a snapshot of a tiny moment in time that meant to much to us.
So now I have two beautiful sunrise pictures that mean so much to me, the two days I want to remember for eternity…..

Dawn on the day both my boys were born

the day that

www.thedaythat.co.uk