A Residence Blog

Travel and adventure taking, memory and home making, parenting and play shaking, never faking, tales of family life.

A Residence Blog

Travel and adventure taking, memory and home making, parenting and play shaking, never faking, tales of family life.

My Week to View – What we ate

Fish, chips and peas

Picture by Mr A – I went away for the night so they ate fish, chips and peas £1.70 a portion

Sometimes recording what I eat makes me more mindful of food. In terms of health and cost. I love cooking but it has become a chore and we’ve been stuck in a rut for a while.  Morrisons offered us some vouchers to go shopping so I wondered if it might reinspire us. It is rare all four of us enter a supermarket together and I think it helped us get out of some ruts. Continue reading

10 ways to raise awareness online



At Blog Camp last month I was asked to speak along with my co Team Honk founders, Tanya and Annie, about working with charities as a blogger to raise awareness online, and money. Last month I also asked my readers for ideas on how to get more votes for the charities taking part in the Direct Debit Big Break for Charity.

I’ve been busy gathering lots of tips over the last few weeks. I’ve been reflecting on Team Honk and asking my readers and the charities involved in the Direct Debit Big Break for Charity.

Each month from March until June, Direct Debit will donate £5,000 to the causes you think deserve it, while charities will also be in the running to win £500 by entering the various award categories. Last year, the overall campaign raised £150k for 120 good causes.

I hope these ideas of how to raise awareness online will be useful, whether you are a charity trying to get votes for the Direct Debit Big Break for Charity, or an individual or blogger planning something for charity.


1. One thing that keeps coming up is visuals.

Liz of Me and My Shadow agrees, ‘I think having a photo really helps make the initiative more ‘real’ to people and brings out the human (or animal!) interest’.

Here The Firefighters Charity used this image of firefighters working out to appeal for votes. If firefighters can work this hard, how hard is it to vote really? Continue reading

From Cruiseless to Best Cruise Blogger? #CruiseAwards2014


Sometimes blogging opens up doors you really don’t expect. If you had asked me 12 months ago ‘cruise’ ‘cruise ship’ weren’t in my vocabulary, the idea of taking my family on one was something I had never considered.

However, aside from our amazing cruise adventures over the last year, more on that in a minute, something rather exciting happened last week and I think I have some of you lovely people to thank for it. Continue reading

Our Family Caravan – Inside and Out


Olpro sent me some cleaning products for the caravan, so I thought as some of my readers are caravanners and some aren’t, I would combine a review and a tour in one.

First things first, we bought our van in 2010,  a Swift Freestyle, but caravan decor got left in the 80s somewhere and much as I wanted to re-upholster and make it a funky modern space, I ran out of time. Regardless, it’s a very cleverly designed family caravan, a place to be together, to relax. We live in suburbia all week, at the weekend I need to escape it.

Lots of people think caravanning is not cool, mainly because of that bloke off Top Gear, but after talking to lots of people who had a family caravan as a child, we realised everyone who grew up with a caravan couldn’t stop talking about the adventures they had as a family.  We had a campervan before this, but we outgrew it and it was chilly outside of July- August. Our caravan is very toasty, so we can go away all year round, but L still likes to take her slippers and her best PJs. Continue reading

Blog On – Getting Creative with your Blog Writing

writing tips quote


Some days blog posts are easy to write stream from my fingers like little rays of sunshine, other days I can’t string a sentence together organising words feels like herding a field of stubborn sheep. It is always good to have some tricks up your sleeve a list of cheats scribbled on a faded post it stuck to the wall above your desk.

I was asked to talk at Blog On about Writing Creative Copy. I will add to this on my return, but for now, here are some tips on getting creative with your writing, whether it is a blog post, a love letter or a novel.

When I find myself in a blog writing rut I like to go back to what I learnt on my Creative Writing Diploma.  Sometimes all that’s needed to finish spice up a post is a well-placed simile, or a shorter sentence to balance things out. Sometimes it’s some very ruthless redrafting, often I find I can lose the first two paragraphs of a draft, there’s a good reason for that as I will explain.

You don’t want to lose your blog voice, but sometimes  taking just one leaf from the ‘book’ of literary techniques can make a post sparkle doing what your English teacher taught you can resuscitate the most lifeless of posts.

1 One liner

It was a bright cold day in April, and the clocks were striking thirteen.

George Orwell1984

Like the first line of a novel the first line of a blog post has to work hard. It’s going to show up in search snippets, facebook previews and be the hook to draw a reader in.  Trying to start with the first line however,  is the biggest creativity killer, the most important thing is to get the your ideas down, and then you can go back, tinker with them, learn what the post is really about and make that first line grab the reader’s attention.

Do you plan your posts before you write, or do you drive in the dark, letting the words just tumble out and editing later? Both can be equally fruitful ways of working. When I get stuck with one, I try the other.

2  Jump In

Many years later, as he faced the firing squad, Colonel Aureliano Buendía was to remember that distant afternoon when his father took him to discover ice.

Gabriel García Márquez One hundred years of solitude

Start in the thick of it, literary types call it ‘In Media res’ which is Latin for ‘in the middle of affairs’.  A paragraph of preamble is off-putting. Hook the reader in by starting in the midst of the action/event/story/train of thought.

3 Repeat yourself

Some of the best rhetoric in history uses repetition. A word, a phrase can be a great hook. Think Martin Luther King…

I have a dream today!


And so, my fellow Americans: ask not what your country can do for you — ask what you can do for your country.

My fellow citizens of the world: ask not what America will do for you, but what together we can do for the freedom of man.

4 Make patterns

Vary the length of sentences. Short sentences give bursts of energy and refocus the reader. Long sentences create a steady energy, but very long ones can be too tough on web readers.

Ever get the feeling people are skim reading your posts?

Paragraphs in web writing need to be much shorter than offline texts, 2-4 lines of text is often enough.  Keep to this and people will be less likely to skim read.

5 Paint pictures

“Her romantic mind was like the tiny boxes, one within the other, that come from the puzzling East . . .” — Peter Pan, by J. M. Barrie.

“. . . she tried to get rid of the kitten which had scrambled up her back and stuck like a burr just out of reach.” — Little Women, by Louisa May Alcott

An original simile or metaphor can make your writing really stand out, as long as they aren’t overused or clichéd.  Let cliches go in the first draft, hard as nails, black as soot, stubborn as a mule (I have headstrong kids), they are great placemarkers, but seek them out when you edit and try inventing one of your own instead.

6. The finish line

He drew a deep breath. ‘Well, I’m back’ he said. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings

‘This is not an exit.’ Bret Easton Ellis’s American Psycho

So we beat on, boats against the current, drawn back ceaselessly into the past. F Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby

Whether it’s a call to action, a one liner, a question, a reflection or an explanation, blog readers need to finish feeling satisfied too.

Do you have any tips to add?

More tips on nurturing your creativity here.

One Woman and Her Dog – working with brands and desk organisation.

Over the weekend I got drawn into the worlds of some 20 something You Tubers thanks to this post by Hannah at A New Addition. Strangely compelling viewing even though they don’t really do much.  In my husband’s words the secret is you need to be ‘young and hot’ to be this compelling.

So with both of these things on my side, (well maybe not youth), on Monday I thought I would have a go, how hard can it be? Introducing One Woman and her Dog.

I’ve made it informative too, so in this episode you can hear Becky Goddard Hill’s blogging and working with brands tips, fresh from her presentation at Blog Camp and you can see how I solved the messy desk problem. You can even meet Max the greyhound.

Please take a minute to subscribe to my You Tube channel, just a click and it doesn’t bombard you with emails.

What do you think about Becky’s tips, they have made me think about how I work!

Are you a piler or a filer?


Visit Jen at Love Chic Living here


You can find out More about Becky and her blogs here:







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I know what you did Next Summer 2014


I won’t lie, when Next invited us to their Head Office to see the Next Summer 2014 collections for kids, I had reservations – two hours in a mock clothes shop didn’t sound like the sort of thing my two would cope with well. Here’s the evidence from the official photographer, and my own snaps… Continue reading

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