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So long, farewell

March 19, 2016


I had a really lovely weekend with friends recently, and it led me to a decision. Spending time with friends and family in real life makes me happier than spending time with virtual friends online.

With a full-time job that involves sitting in front of a computer for much of the day, the last thing I want to do when I get home in the evening, or at weekends, is to look at a screen.

So I am saying goodbye to this ‘Minibreak Mummy’ blog. It’s been fun. Thank you to everyone who has read my blog posts, and left comments.

I am also spending less time on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest and feeling better for it. I’ll still use Facebook to keep in touch with friends and family but that’s about it.

Best wishes,






IWM North during February half term

February 14, 2016

We were invited to IWM North to have a preview of this week’s February half term activities to find out more about what it was like to be in Britain during the Second World War.

First we took part in an interactive story telling session Dotty’s Daring Blitz Adventure to discover the Blitz through the eyes of Dotty, a 10 year old girl whose mum is an Air Raid Warden. There were lots of objects for us to handle, and Aled tried on a helmet.

Then we went to a craft session to decorate a wooden Home Front hero, and I tried on a helmet and coat, both of which were very heavy.

We also had great fun exploring the Horrible Histories: Blitzed Brits exhibition, which runs until 10 April 2016. Aled was both horrified and impressed with the exhibits!

The Watershard Cafe and Kitchen was excellent too, with lovely food and impressive waterside views.

Now that we know how great IWM North is, we’ll be back there again. I’m particularly looking forward to the Fashion on the Ration: 1940s Street Style exhibition which is coming soon.

With huge thanks to IWM North for giving us a preview of their February half term activities, including a free kid’s meal and a ‘Blimey’ mug.


Walking back to happiness

January 3, 2016


Walking is very uplifting and I try to do it every day if I can. I can breathe the air into my lungs and clear my head. It gives me an opportunity to focus on my external surroundings rather than worrying about things.

Walking on holiday is best of all. The photo above was taken last summer while on the Precipice Walk, near Dolgellau. This a fabulous walk with amazing views for relatively little effort.

Whether I am holiday or not, walking is good for my health. A few years ago, I was involved in a 4 week trial of using a pedometer. I aimed for 10,000 steps a day. My percentage body fat decreased from the ’cause for concern’ bracket to the ‘healthy’ bracket. I had to return the pedometer at the end of the trial but ever since then I’ve been more conscious of the benefits of walking every day.

A couple of years ago, I changed job and moved house. There are some good walks near where I live, including a footpath that starts 50 yards from my front door. So there are lots of options for walking on the weekends or when I have a day off work.

During the working week, I think walking helps me to ‘unscrunch’ myself after a few hours sat in front of the computer indoors. But now that I work in a city centre office, there are fewer options for nice walks during my lunch break. And some days I don’t even get a proper lunch break.

Even worse, my knees were starting to get really sore. I suspected that this was caused by all the pavement-pounding I was doing walking to the train station and back every day. One July weekend last summer my knees were so painful, I rested in bed and ignored the pull of the lovely sunshine outside my window. My knees felt temporarily better but I didn’t want to give up on walking altogether.

So my husband recommended trying some walking trainers. We did some research and then I ordered a pair of Brooks Addiction Walker Ladies Walking Shoes from Millet Sports. Brooks have a reputation for making trainers that support feet properly, and I liked the fact that this particular style was available in a wide fitting.

As you can see from the photo below, these shoes have really thick soles, especially from the middle of the foot to the heel. The shoes feel very comfortable and supportive, and they have made a huge difference.


I wear these fantastic walking trainers any time when I am going to walking on pavements, whether at the weekends or while walking to and from the train station on my commute. The fact that they are black means that I am not too embarrassed to be seen arriving at work with them on my feet! Then I change into normal shoes when I get to the office.

I am so happy that walking is a pleasure once again.

Oxfam Unwrapped Charity Gifts

December 20, 2015

Archie the Goat - with Gift Tag

I am a huge fan of Oxfam Unwrapped Charity Gifts. It makes me feel good to buy gifts that really make a difference to people’s lives.

This year I bought a pair of goats (they have a special half-price offer on at the moment, so it was effectively two goats for the price of one!).

An Oxfam Unwrapped goat is a valuable gift, for the following reasons.

  • A goat can provide a family with milk to drink or help them set up a budding business selling their produce – giving them the chance of a secure livelihood.
  • The goats are sourced locally and fully vaccinated, which means they’re fit, healthy and ready to supply a family with milk to drink or sell.
  • Goats also produce crop-boosting manure.
  • Because this gift includes business training, a family is more likely to get the best possible price for what their goat produces.
  • When their goat has kids, they can go on to help another family or be sold to raise money for essentials.
  • Oxfam often provide two goats which allow breeding. Beneficiaries can then build, and grow a herd of their own.
  • Last year, Oxfam provided livestock to farming families in places around the world from Honduras to Somaliland.

Photo credits: Abbie Trayler-Smith; Rachel Walsh; Oxfam AUS

Over the years I’ve bought a variety of Oxfam Unwrapped gifts to support education, beekeepers, vegetable plots and new mothers. Each year, new items are added to the range. For example, you can buy a ‘pile of poo’ to fertilise crops. The gifts are accompanied by training and advice so that the recipients can make the most of the items they have received.

So I hope you’ll check out Oxfam Unwrapped if you’re looking for last minute Christmas gifts. For more information on how it works, watch this video:




Blogpost written by me. No payment or other inducement has been received. Photos, video clip and factual information provided by Oxfam Unwrapped.

Why I’m quitting the magazine habit

October 31, 2015

magazine stash

Hello I’m Ruthy and I’m a magazine addict. Commuting by train every weekday means that I frequently pop into to WHSmiths to purchase yet another monthly mag. But as of today I am calling a halt to this habit for the following reasons:

  • glossy magazines make me feel vaguely dissatisfied with my life
  • there is too much temptation to buy things featured in the magazines, whether it is a new handbag or a recipe book
  • the content is actually pretty repetitive and predictable, so now we are in October it is all about how to have the perfect Christmas and in January there will be diets aplenty…
  • there is lots of interesting stuff to read online these days, including some fantastic blogs
  • magazine issues pile up around the house and make the place look untidy
  • they may only cost a few quid each, but I dread to think how much I have spent in total over the years…

I’ve made previous attempts to quit this habit but I am really determined to stop now. By saying this publicly here I hope that my willpower will be strengthened.

This also links in with my intention to collect moments not things. I’m going to keep track of the money saved by not buying magazines and put it towards a trip to Paris with two of my sisters in the spring.

Writing down 3 good things every day

September 13, 2015


Every evening, I try to write 3 good things that happened that day in my notebook before I go to sleep for the night. That way I fall asleep with some happy thoughts fresh in my mind, even if I have had some challenging things to deal with that day.

I started a fresh notebook for September. It was a TK Maxx bargain, but the paper is lovely to write on.

This idea was inspired by Karin and her Embrace Happy facebook community. Lots of people share their 3 good things online, but I prefer to use a notebook for the following reasons:

  • I like to keep my good things a bit more private, rather than being concerned about what might seem impressive on facebook
  • using a notebook as it means that I am not looking at a screen before I go to bed,
  • and it is easy to look back through what I have written on previous days.

Mostly, my 3 good things are small pleasures, a nice meal, a walk, a book, time spent with my husband and son. All in all this is a really great way for me to collect moments, not things.



Decluttering with Sam Walker on the radio

September 12, 2015

Visiting Sam Walker

I was on Sunday Breakfast on BBC Radio 5 Live last weekend, helping presenter Sam Walker to declutter her wardrobe. The photo above shows me, my son and Sam standing next to Sam’s wardrobe just after we had finished recording.

The whole experience was great fun. Sam was every bit as lovely as she sounds on the radio! I really enjoyed showing her how to use the Konmari method of decluttering, as described in The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying’ by Marie Kondo.

We went through the following steps:

  1. First we pulled Sam’s clothes out of the wardrobe and laid them on her bed.
  2. Then Sam picked up each item one at a time and decided whether that dress, top or skirt sparked joy.
  3. It was obvious which items of clothing brought Sam joy, because they made her smile – these clothes could be kept.
  4. If an item of clothing made Sam frown and pause then it was good indication that it was no longer bringing her joy, and that this item should go.

Sam got the hang of this really quickly, and soon there was a big pile of clothes to take to the charity shop. Some of the clothes in this pile still had tags on, but Sam admitted that she wasn’t likely to wear them. We put the clothes that brought joy back in her wardrobe.

There was also a very small pile of clothes where the decision was less clear-cut. I suggested that Sam should put these clothes to one side and revisit them in a few months.

Later that day, Sam told me that her husband also had the bug and had done even better than she did.

It just goes to show that the Konmari approach is very simple to use. One of the reasons it works is that it gives you permission to keep the items that bring you joy and to get rid of the items that do not.

It also gives you confidence to know more about what suits you, and helps you to make better decisions about what to buy in future. This should lead to fewer items hanging in your wardrobe unworn with the tags still on!

If you want to listen, I have saved the 5 minute clip from ‘Sunday Breakfast’ 06/09/2015 on my audioboom account. Please note, this works best on a desktop or laptop computer and may not work on mobile phones or tablets.

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