Piggy Bank School

Have you been aware of a campaign by Martin Lewis to make financial education part of the National Curriculum? He was concerned that we were a nation who educated our children into debt, particularly around University education fees, but weren’t very good about teaching young people how to manage finances, understand mortgages, interest rates and savings. From this September (2014) financial education will form part of citizenship for 11-16-year-olds and maths for 5-14-year-olds, it will be taught in all ‘maintained’ schools in England. Some schools e.g. academies and free schools don’t have to follow the National Curriculum, so financial education still won’t be compulsory for all.

So how do you help your children become money savvy? Even from a young age, knowing the cost and value of things is really important. Even down to the simplest concept that you don’t want your children to wilfully break or damage toys or household items, because they cost money and can’t be replaced by magic. There are some great ideas and activities on The Money Advice Service to help your child learn about money.

If Victoria and David think that Brooklyn should learn the value of money, by getting a Saturday job in a coffee shop, then that’s one celebrity couple I’ll take parenting inspiration from. I’ve always encouraged my children to save for things they want, using birthday money and pocket money, but also have a long term savings goal. As soon as my eldest daughter was 16 she had part time jobs and has pretty much paid for her holidays with the girls in the last couple of years from her own pocket. I can’t believe that she is now 19 and starting University in September. Those early savings plans have really paid off for us and we have been able to cushion the cost of University and given our daughter a bit of breathing space. She can concentrate on studies and doesn’t have to work two jobs to pay for it. (Just the one to keep Top Shop in business).

Have you thought about future proofing your child’s tomorrow? I’m so glad we started saving early on, and with a five and ten year old who may want to tread the university path, we’re not able to blow the savings pot on sports cars and holidays. You may want to take a look at some of the Savings options with Santander. Experts say that children learn most of their money habits from parents, so hopefully I’ve done enough to set a good example.

Do you have any family traditions around savings or money education? One of my childhood favourite memories was filling the huge whisky jar up with coins. We would all sit round and count the coins and bag them up. We still do this with our children, sadly we have to make do with a large money box as I’ve never found out where you can buy huge whisky bottles from.

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Mum, can I borrow your car?

teen driver, new driver, pass driving test
The parenting milestones just keep on coming. University in September, exam results, passing her driving test, getting a flat tyre…!

Since number one daughter passed her driving test earlier this year, and the reality of buying her own car (well affording the insurance on her own car was just too ridiculous), I’ve been asked ‘Mum, can I borrow your car?’ many, many times. Usually with her stood with car keys in hand, ready to leave.

I hadn’t actually been in the car with Chloe driving until she had passed her test. Gone are the days when you go out with Mum or Dad before you have some actual lessons, the cost of insuring an unlicensed teen is eye watering. My first chauffeur driven experience was a drive out to a store about 15 minutes away, she did really well and although my hand was hovering over the handbrake and I may have been pressing the imaginary brakes in my footwell, it all went great. She was confident, in control and safe. That was a few months ago now and she uses the car more than me now.

All is going great until you get the call – no not the ‘I’ve had a bump’, luckily just the ‘I’ve got a flat tyre’. The list of things you need to teach your children goes on an on doesn’t it? How to use a knife and fork, how to tie shoelaces, zip a coat and now how to change a tyre. She didn’t have a clue, I’ll bet she didn’t even realise there was a spare tucked under all the tat in the boot.

Dad went to the rescue and sorted it all for her, but she is now aware of what to do if it happened in the future. I know we would all prefer to let the break-down service or capable dad do it, but it’s as important as teaching them to cross the road safely isn’t it? If you’re looking for an easy guide for your new driver (or like me, ahem, a refresher for yourself) then take a look at how to change a tyre, nice to see that it isn’t just me who uses the ‘lefty loosey’  and ‘righty tighty’ reminder either.

It turned out to be a screw that had pierced the tyre, and a few days later my husband also had a puncture, so we all got plenty of practise over the last week. Top tip: keep some disposable rubber gloves in the boot of the car, oil is not very forgiving on the manicure.

Flat Tyres, how to change a tyre,

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Hidden Gems: Lowther Castle, Penrith

Do you have somewhere that you visit that you feel really lucky to know about? Somewhere that you feel is a really special place for you and your family? Our place that we feel like that about is a real gem of a place. Lowther Castle has been slowly and lovingly preserved and rediscovered since 2011.

Lowther Castle, Penrith

The castle itself has been preserved after being left derelict for over 70 years. It isn’t being restored to any kind of former glory, but it stands majestically overseeing the real treasure of Lowther – the gardens.

Every year that we return there is a new discovery that has been unveiled, a rock garden, a Japanese garden, another pond. New orchards have been planted and the jewel in the crown for 2014 is going to be a Dan Pearson designed parterre in the courtyard of the castle (work underway below). The staff are always friendly and take great pleasure and pride in telling you about what achievements have been made. The parterre is under a very tight completion deadline of mid June as the Antiques Roadshow are going to be filming there.

Lowther Castle, Courtyard, Parterre

The huge selling point for us as a family at Lowther is that you can really let the children explore and run wild. It isn’t like a formal heritage garden, where you feel like there are rather a lot of Keep off the Grass signs. Lowther positively encourages freedom for the children. There are the best rope swings in the trees and a wild adventure playground for den building in the woods.  In fact they like children so much, they let them in for FREE!

Kids at Lowther, Tree Climbing
Lowther Pond

Lowther Castle, detail

Swinging high and toad hunting in the Japanese garden

Swinging high and toad hunting in the Japanese garden

I could share another hundred photographs with you, but I think it’s a place you would want to turn the corners and discover the views for yourself. The icing on the cake is also the wonderful cafe, which serves delicious home made food. Make sure to leave some room for cakes too. As you go around Lowther and take in all it’s beauty, there are information boards revealing the history of every corner of the garden. We love it, do let me know if you get to visit and what you think.

If you are looking for more great days out like Lowther, Look Insurance have put together a map of hidden gems, which I have contributed to myself (see here). The map has great ideas for the whole of the UK. You can add your little gem too.

Post in association with Look Insurance Services


Sew Your Own Wardrobe – Great British Sewing Bee Series 2 Book

If like me your Tuesday evenings have become the highlight of your week at 8pm, yes?  With a second series of The Great British Sewing Bee on BBC2? Of course, who couldn’t fail to be mesmerised with the creativity and the sweat and tears of the contestants, the firm but fair judges Patrick and May and crazy big sister Claudia plying them all with tea and moral support throughout. You will love a little peek into the latest book to accompany the series.

Great British Sewing Bee, Sew Your Own Wardrobe

It gives an easy to understand introduction to all kinds of techniques and technical terms at the beginning of the book, covering measuring, fitting, handling patterns and fabrics, all with lots of diagrams for the visual learner.

Sewing Bee 4
Sewing Bee 5
It is then crammed with lots of patterns. Patterns that you will want to make – a very realistic wardrobe as referred to in the title. Skirts, dresses, tops – simple and fancy.

Sewing Bee 11
Sewing Bee 8
Sewing Bee 9
Sewing Bee 12

If you want to push yourself there is a stunning coat pattern.

Sewing Bee 10
There are also a few patterns for the men in your life – a jacket and trousers. Along with some very cute children’s patterns, the toddler dungarees which were featured in episode four (not sure I could make them in three hours, even if Claudia was making me a brew) and these lovely garments:

Sewing Bee 6
Sewing Bee 7
All the patterns come with so much information, advice on suitable fabrics, pattern layouts and step by step guidance.

Saving the best until last, is the fact that the book also comes with full size pattern pieces, so no printing out A4 pdfs and worrying that your printer has changed the size and having to tape dozens of pieces together – bonus!

All that is missing is the Doris Day soundtrack. So download the greatest hits and make lots of hints to nearest and dearest that this would make you very happy as a gift for Mother’s Day (or just treat yourself).

RRP: £25 but I’ve seen it in Tesco for a bargain £12 and the same online at Amazon.

Disclosure: I was sent a copy of the book by Quadrille (thank you), all gushing is my own honest opinion.

Reasons To Believe

Linking up with Tara for her Reasons To Believe post.

The brief is a photo that “lifts your spirits; makes you smile or warms your heart or gives you a boost for the rest of the day; a photo that shows just how great this world we live in can be.”

Mount Manganui, New Zealand, Sunny Days, Beach

This photo ticks all those boxes for me, blue sea, even bluer sky, Christmas trees growing along the beach edge and the sound of the surf still echoing in my ears. We’ve been back from New Zealand for a month now, but I hope some of the images that we captured will keep the memories alive for the kids as time ticks on.

February 14, 2014 - 7:45 pm

Jen aka The Mad House - Oh what an image. Come on I want to hear more about NZ
Jen aka The Mad House´s last blog post ..Fingerprint heart valentines cards

February 15, 2014 - 9:26 am

Actually Mummy... - Oh, I would so love to have a trip to New Zealand. Is it as fresh and healthy and vital as I’ve heard it is?
Actually Mummy…´s last blog post ..Ask GG: 7 reasons why I will move to another country if Gove gets his way

February 17, 2014 - 11:59 am

Cara - It really is fresh and healthy. Air that you want to stay out in all day. It was a vast place and your eyes couldn’t take it all in. An amazing place for families x

February 17, 2014 - 12:01 pm

Cara - Yes Jen, I know. I need to do it before I forget the names of the crazy places we went. x