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 Home Q&A: Kate Thompson, Author

My Home Q&A with Kate Thompson, Author of Secrets of the Singer Girls

Kate Thompson lives in Twickenham with her husband, two sons and an escape artist Jack Russell called Twinkle. Kate is a freelance journalist and author of nostalgic wartime drama, Secrets of the Singer Girls by Pan Macmillan.

My Home Q&A with Kate Thompson, Author of Secrets of the Singer Girls

Please describe your home in 5 words. Noisy. Fun. Light. Open-plan. Communal.

What inspires your home style? I like the light, sun-bleached and white washed Danish influence, but I also adore the American Hamptons style of wooden shutters, huge, squishy sofas and relaxed easy beach living.

My Home Q&A with Kate Thompson, Author of Secrets of the Singer Girls

Do you follow trends? Not religiously no. I don’t have the time or money to interpret them and I’m more interested in a home that works for the comfort of my family, than one that would sit in a homes magazine. It’s quite dull to follow a prescriptive style plan. I think the most stylish homes reflect the individuality and personality of the owner.

What is your favourite ritual at home?  It depends on the time of day. In the morning, when I’ve dropped the kids off at school I come home, brew a fresh coffee, turn on Radio 4 and retreat to my office to work. I also like the craziness of kids’ teatime; chatting to them about their day while I prepare tea, and my Sunday night ritual. Slip on comfy socks, pour a glass of red wine and light candles before settling down to Downton Abbey.

What are your favourite and least favourite parts of your house and why? My office at the end of the garden is my favourite part of the house, because it’s my space (sons and husband free zone) to work and write quietly in and I get to indulge in a bit more femininity style-wise than I would in the rest of the house, with vintage bunting on the walls and cushions. The least favourite part is the side return of our semi-detached house. It’s a dumping ground. You have to negotiate bikes, paddling pools and recycling bins to open the side gate. I also long for a decent sized utility room where I could hang clothes to dry. I suppose we all long for more space.

My Home Q&A with Kate Thompson, Author of Secrets of the Singer Girls

My Home Q&A with Kate Thompson, Author of Secrets of the Singer Girls

Which room is the tidiest? The messiest? The tidiest is my office, because it’s a kid free zone, the messiest is the kitchen and open plan lounge, because it’s where the kids loll about. There are some days where I swear I’m welded to a dustpan and brush, sweeping up baked beans and crumbs off the kitchen floor! Is there anyone with children who can claim to have clean floors?

My Home Q&A with Kate Thompson, Author of Secrets of the Singer Girls

Can you tell me any interesting facts or stories about your house’s history? Our house dates back to 1901 and is Edwardian, but I think the most recent history is more interesting. I gave birth to my 4-year-old son Stanley at home so his history will forever be linked to our home. I never really considered a home birth until the midwife suggested it. So we got a birthing pool in and went into it with an open mind. In the event it was the most amazing thing I feel I’ve ever done and giving birth in the place I love the most made for a stress free birth.

Within half an hour of giving birth I was showered and sitting up in my own bed with nice clean sheets with my new baby, drinking tea and eating toast. I only went to hospital for my scans and everything else was done at home. I wouldn’t describe myself as a new age hippy or a mother earth type. I just instinctively felt home was the right place to give birth in.

What is your most treasured object and why? A beautiful Carole Weight painting inherited from my grandfather.

My Home Q&A with Kate Thompson, Author of Secrets of the Singer Girls

What’s your biggest extravagance and your thriftiest purchase? I suppose the biggest extravagance is our stainless steel, American double-door fridge, which cost, well, a lot. My two boys eat gigantic quantities of food so it’s generally speaking well stocked and the freezer compartment is a massive pull out shelf, which means you don’t need to give yourself frostbite digging out the fish fingers.

We also bought a Jura coffee machine from Harrods which even in the sale cost a lot, but it’s makes amazing coffee at the touch of a button so I try to convince myself I’ve saved myself a fortune on takeaway coffees!

My most adored thriftiest piece is a mirror I made myself. I bought a lovely old wooden Edwardian paneled door-frame (the semi-circular arch that sits on the top of grand old doors) from a reclamation yard for £20. I sanded it down, painted it, took it to a glazier and got him to fill the panels with mirror for £20 and it’s now a really beautiful and unique mirror. I notice they are selling them at Kempton Antiques Market for three times the amount.

My Home Q&A with Kate Thompson, Author of Secrets of the Singer Girls

Whose home do you most admire and why? My neighbour Giselle. She is responsible for buying, and displaying the home furnishings and antiques for achingly cool Petersham Nurseries in Richmond. She scours Parisian flea markets, Provencal markets and many other places, off the beaten track to source some really beautiful, individual pieces of furniture and home ware.

Her home is reflection of her work place with massive over sized mirrors, zinc top tables, 1930s chairs, beaded lampshades, vintage French wooden shutters and armoires. She has an eye for what will make a home look striking. Whether it’s an Indian Barber box stuffed with blankets or a giant tree root made into table legs, she turns extraordinary items into functional but breathtaking home ware.

What is your earliest memory of ‘home’? It’s funny how when you cast your mind back you conveniently forget the squabbling with siblings and wrap the past in the golden glow of nostalgia. I remember eating toasted crumpets, warming my toes by an open fire after long walks on Wimbledon Common, noisy games of Monopoly and Scrabble on the rug, watching Hi-di-Hi! and Carry on Films on a Saturday afternoon with plates of cheese and toast on my lap.

My mum cooking up mince for our tea (early in the morning) before she clocked on for her shift as a nurse, the sound of my dad bustling around our tiny kitchen (everyone had tiny kitchens in those days) preparing tea and soft boiled eggs for our breakfast.

We were lucky to live near the Thames at Hampton Court and me my brother and sister had a canoe, which we used to take out on the river. Looking back we enjoyed an awful lot of freedom, but that just made home all the more wonderful to return to. It’s funny, but I don’t’ recall furniture at all, just the feel and warmth of the place.

What does home mean to you? A safe, warm, comfortable sanctuary from the outside world. A place to rest, eat, relax, read, sleep and ultimately raise your family in.

My Home Q&A with Kate Thompson, Author of Secrets of the Singer Girls

Thank you Kate for showing us round your wonderfully inviting home. You can find out more about Kate’s writing on Facebook or follow her on Twitter @katethompson380Secrets of the Singer Girls by Pan Macmillan is available now.

To be featured on My Home Rocks or the My Home Q&A please contact Penny alexanderresidence@gmail.com.

The Amara Interior Blog Awards 2015: The Ham Yard


Thank you so much to all those who nominated and voted A Residence in the Amara Interior Blog Awards 2015 for Best Organisation Blog. It was a real honour to be in the shortlist for the second year running. with four other fab organisations: Loaf, Mia Fleur, The French Bedroom Company and Bodie and Fou. The lovely mother and daughter team at Mia Fleur won the award, with Highly Commended to The French Bedroom Company. I thought I would share the night with you, as The Ham Yard in London was such an inspiring venue.

There are lots of great views, as you can see above, looking down through a spiral of oranges, into the bar we mingled in before the awards, was one of my favourites.

My guest for the evening was Selina Kerley, Online Content Coordinator at Wayfair. (Any blogging friends reading may know Selina, it was lovely for her to put online names to faces on the night). Selina in red, me in silver.

We settled in quirky chairs in the bar.

With a Gin and Ham Yard Tonic. Delicious.

The awards were presented more formally this year –  in a cinema style area with bright orange seats – by Sophie Robinson, the presenter of The Great Interior Design Challenge. Sophie talked about design democracy, and how blogs had made interior design so much more accessible to all. It was exciting to see some new categories this year, with blogs from around the world represented.

There was time for more drinks and catching up with fellow interior bloggers afterwards, and meeting new bloggers from round the world. Plus much more sneaking round the Ham Yard. Each turn seemed to involve another stunning splash of colour and interest. I snuck a look into this room on the way out, I love the pendant lights and the giant poster.

Then back out into the London night, via Piccadilly Circus, and home for all.

Thanks to Amara for a fabulous evening. Thank you to Bang and Olufsen who sponsored the Best Organisation Category. Thanks once again to all that voted and nominated, it means so much to be among such incredibly talented interior blogging company.

I didn’t come away empty handed, we were given a goody bag full of interior delights, More on that, now and to come on instagram.

Book Club – Burial Rites by Hannah Kent

Burial Rites

It’s time to light a candle,  snuggle under a throw, with tea or wine, warm buttered toast and a great book.

If you are looking for a gripping read, this comes highly recommended. The story is set in Iceland, and is based on the last public execution in the country in 1829. Agnes Magnúsdóttir is found guilty of murder on an isolated farm, and is sentenced to be executed. Instructions from Denmark come to behead her in Iceland. But first the harsh Icelandic Winter must pass, so she is sent to live with an Icelandic family on their farm.

The story of Agnes is well known in Iceland, but like anyone accused of a crime and found guilty, the backstory isn’t always as well know. Hannah Kent’s fiction explores the possibilities and they unfold in an absolutely gripping fashion.

I love stories that shift perspectives and the move from third to first person narrative makes the tale even more intriguing. Agnes comes across so strongly in the first person, but reading the accounts of her telling her story to Toti, the young priest who is sent to counsel her, as the rest of the family overhears in the one room farmhouse, gives a whole new dynamic to the story.

The story is interwoven with actual documents from the trial and letters detailing plans for her execution. This, and the Icelandic names, and large number of characters means entering the world of this novel requires a little patience, but it is worth it, the characters and story soon begin to fly off the page.

Having travelled to modern day Iceland, I found the story especially intriguing. Hannah Kent lived in Iceland as a student, so is able to really draw descriptions of the deathly weather conditions and isolation to conjure a time gone by in a very different land. There are many moments throughout the story and character’s backstories where they are forced to put up with situations that are completely intolerable, simply because the weather makes movement impossible.

I ended up reading this in a day because it was so gripping. When I got to the end I was in two minds as to whether it needed the historical documents reproduced within the story – I think I prefer to keep fiction and history separate, but they do make absolutely fascinating reading, so I think they do need to be in the book somewhere, as does Kent’s notes in the back of the book.

I have moved onto The Fishermen by Chigozie Obioma, from the 2015 Man Booker Prize Shortlist, so far, so very good, I love the humour and storytelling from a child’s perspective, I will be back to tell you more next month.

The Fishermen is set in a small town in Nigeria in the mid-1990s. Four brothers, the youngest is nine, use their strict father’s absence from home to go fishing in a forbidden river and encounter a dangerous local madman, Abulu, whose mystic prophecy of violence threatens the very core of their close-knit family.

What are you reading? Any recommendations?

A month at home to view


Autumn is settling in and I have been enjoying the feeling of immense smugness that comes from remembering to throw something in the slow cooker at lunchtime occasionally. Sausage casserole is my favourite right now, see the food category in the sidebar for recipe posts.

I have a second home, Virgin Active gym. It’s a converted railway station and you get to swim along the platform. I love how many gorgeous architectural features the building has. 


I am looking forward to celebrating A Residence Blog making the shortlist of the Amara Interior Blog Awards next week at the Ham Yard in London at the award ceremony. The invite was stunning.

We’ve been reminiscing about our summer holidays in Greece by baking baklava and I also have a giveaway of a waffle maker, another favourite from holidays – check out the competition link in the sidebar. 

These were so good… 

We had a big tidy up of this room downstairs, it was the playroom but now the kids play in the living room we have reclaimed it as a grown up den. I love it when life imitates art!  I need a rug next.

We love the new reclining seats at the local Showcase Cinema de Lux. Just wish we had room for some at home. 


In between snuggling in blankets and throws, we have also found time to snuggle in Autumn leaves. 


I finally found time to share our garden makeover. 

Food wise we’ve made some great dishes, but some days when it doesn’t go quite to plan, you can’t beat joining the kids in some Ben and Jerry’s Cookie Dough Ice Cream.

I need to recreate this brekkie, I love mushrooms at the moment, and avocado is  always amazing. Washed down with Bucks Fizz here, after a good friends 40th. This makes me want to make more of brunch at home at the weekend! 


Another recipe I loved was this cauliflower and cheese soup at Eden Hall Spa. The perfect winter warmer.


I am developing an obsession with fruit toast, early mornings and late nights waiting at St Pancras for a train home found me in Starbucks, but Eden Hall had some too.

And a new haircut for me too. 


It’s been one of those months where not much has happened home improvement wise, another day of clearing out and making room for a shed in the garden. But I am really enjoying cooking and snuggling with my family, and very affectionate dog.

What have you been up in October? 

Five Ways Scented Candles Can Change your Life

Scented Candles

One of my favourite candles just ran out, and as I burnt my fingers trying to turn the glass upside down and light it, I realised just how good that smell makes me feel. I’ve always liked the idea of scented candles but often forget I have them. However, as the cold comes in and I find myself stuck at my desk more and more, dreaming of summer holidays, I have noticed the scented candles on my desk seem to be really helping me to stay focussed.

I spent a few days at Sensatori resort in Turkey last month, where the whole resort is themed around stimulating the senses, my stay really reminded me that smell is such an underused sense, but it has incredible power to lift our mood. I returned from Turkey feeling invigorated and calm and I realised I feel the same sense of calm return when I light a candle at my desk. It really is quite magic.

I read once about someone who rewarded herself for her hard work by buying a scented candle which she lights whenever she has a work achievement to celebrate. I love that idea of marking your achievements, candles are great for a little bit of self nurturing or self celebration, lighting a candle is such a simple but easy way to look after yourself.

I would even go so far as to say that candle light draws me in to my work when I don’t feel like working. Try it for yourself.

I read an article about Danes and their concept of ‘Hygge’, it means a kind of cosiness that comes from sharing happy times and warmth with others. So many of the Danes interviewed in the article I read talked about lighting a candle being important to get them through hours of limited daylight. Candle light has such a powerful impact on us visually too, it makes me feel cosy, safe and secure.

I haven’t even mentioned candles as a means to disguise other smells, but of course they do. For me though, lighting a candle is about hygge, warmth, love, stimulating your senses and lifting your mood.

I picked out some of my favourite scented candles at Wayfair this month. For a thrifty purchase that will also double up as an ornament after, check out these Ian Snow scented candles in ornate glass pots, in a range of colours.

For more of a luxury splurge, try Lucky Team, the ones with the fab French and English statements on.

As Winter approaches, something berry flavoured and spicy, try Candleberry scents which are designed to evoke family memories.

You can even conjure your favourite cocktail as you light a living room candle at the end of the working week, Gift Republic have a great collection.

For calm you can’t beat Lavender, and Greenleaf candles in a tin are perfect for travel, or just keeping candles contained.

How to make Baklava, by Panayiotis, Chef at Mark Warner Levante Resort


When Panayiotis, the chef at Mark Warner Levante resort was prepared to share with me how to make Baklava, I knew I had struck gold. A little square of Baklava was the perfect end to every evening meal on our holiday in Rhodes this summer. I couldn’t wait to cheer up Autumn and recreate it back home.

Baklava would make a lovely gift to cheer someone up, the perfect finish to a dinner party, or even a pretty awesome but easily achieved thank you present for a teacher. My 8 yo really enjoyed making these.

The kids had an INSET day, so my daughter and I decided to test out Panayiotis’ recipe. It doesn’t take long to prepare, but takes a long time to bake, so it is a good one for a lazy day at home. I wasn’t sure I had got it right at first, the filo seemed quite crispy, but Baklava is often better the next day, and it soon settled into the gooey, spicy, nutty magic I remembered – try and be patient and give the syrup time to work it’s magic. The lemon in the syrup is a really tasty addition.

How to make Baklava

Ingredients for Baklava
1 packet (or ½ pound) Filo pastry
1 packet (or 250 g) fresh butter
200 g peeled almonds (unsalted and uncooked)
150 g walnuts
1 tsp teaspoon cinnamon
1 tsp sugar

Ingredients for the syrup
250 g sugar
200 ml water
1 tsp tablespoon lemon
Rind of ½ lemon


  1. First prepare the syrup,  put the sugar, water, lemon juice and peel in a saucepan and boil until the syrup thickens, about 10 minutes. (We ended up making toffee the first time, so don’t boil for longer).

2. Grind nuts in the blender. Add cinnamon and sugar and mix well.

3. Melt the butter in a small pan.

4. Start to lay the fillo pastry leaves in a buttered or greaseproof parchment lined dish or tray, one at a time – brush generously with melted butter over the entire surface.

5. Sprinkle over ground almonds and walnuts and spread evenly. Continue to add the leaves and ground nuts.

6. When at the last leaf smear the entire surface with butter. With a sharp knife cut the baklava into small diagonal slices and/or squares. The baklava is ready to bake.

7. The baklava bakes for 150 minutes in total, the maths here tested my head a little!

  • Bake for 90 minutes at oven to 140 ° C. Cover with foil for the first 30 minutes, then take it off for 60 minutes.
  • After this initial 90 minutes turn down the temperature to 120 ° C, then bake for another 60 minutes with the foil on top again.

9. Take the baklava from the oven and while still warm throw syrup on top so it goes everywhere. The syrup must be cold when pouring on top. Let it cool down before cutting.

If possible wait a day before eating, you won’t regret it!

For more information on Mark Warner Levante or check out our blog posts here.

Adding value with garden landscaping on a budget

Garden landscaping

Over the Summer we decided it was time to landscape the garden, having worked with Phillipa Oakes White on a garden makeover with Money Supermarket we were over the moon when she said she had some time over the summer to work on our garden too.

Fancy a garden tour?


Using a garden designer

You could do all the work yourself, but I think it can be worth investing in a garden designer; it can definitely save you money, and make you money back in the long term by increasing your house value.

Pip was able to think much more creatively than us about the problems in our garden and she achieved a great deal on a limited budget. We wanted somewhere that would attract wildlife and encourage us to step outside into a wildlife oasis, talking to Pip who loves to recycle, reuse and work with wild plants, I knew we had the perfect person for the job. We came back from holiday to find she had worked her magic.

The key thing was to create a new border on the left side which before was simply a concrete path. The garden felt very boring and messy from this angle.



Pip likes to keep it simple and recycle where possible, so she dug up more turf and used this and the soil she unearthed sinking the trampoline (more on that in a minute) to create a raised border over the path. Pip also replanted the apple tree from this post in the old sandpit, and painted the other old sandpit to make a feature on the shed wall. I am going to train some plants to grow up it.

Watch my kids and the garden grow up 3 years inbetween these pictures!


garden landscaping on a budget

I had half heartedly started the border, but not finished, but some plants had started to grow well here – lots of the plants are things that had reseeded themselves from the other side of the garden – buddleia, fennel, or herbs that could be split like oregano.

How much value does garden landscaping add to your home?

Another great thing Pip suggested, was to sink the trampoline, the frame was broken and it was getting dangerous. Sinking it solved so many problems, lawn mowing is easy, the garden looks clear and the kids go on it all the time. We made space for our Wayfair fire pit on some slabs in the bottom bed, but over time I need to think about how to make more of a fire pit feature here.

S’more making!

How much value does garden landscaping add to your home?

The trampoline is now surrounded by a donut of grass which leads to a mound of wildflowers growing against the wall.

We inherited this decking when we moved in, now it is no longer strewn in broken plastic and old sandpit, it is a lovely place to hang out, the garden gets a lot of sun, but this section gets only the morning sun, so is a nice place to be at the start and end of the day. Pip sunk an old Little Tykes water play table and made a bog garden which runs up to the decking, surrounded by pebbles and old logs.

How much value does garden landscaping add to your home?

Pip moved our swing seat from the decking to a border, making a space for it by cutting back shrubs and moving some old paving stones. It is now a lovely place to sit and means there is more room to eat and play on the decking outside the back door.

How much value does garden landscaping add to your home?

We had some lovely family meals over the summer

How much value does garden landscaping add to your home?

The garden works brilliantly now as a space, as you can see below from last time the kids had friends to play. There are lots of areas to ‘just be’ even in this average sized suburban garden. I love that the swing seat and end of the garden decking area give me a whole new view on the garden space. The trampoline not interrupting the lawn makes such a difference. We just need to spend some time on getting the grass back on track after neglecting it. Pip used pot plants over where the path was, as the path is still there and we need to be able to get behind the border to trim the hedge.

How much value does garden landscaping add to your home?

Pip’s brief was to shape and tidy the space and create zones that worked for all the family. Mr A likes a hayfever-friendly, plant-free decking near the house, the kids needed somewhere to play and I wanted a space I could relax in free from clutter. I also wanted the garden to feel balanced on both sides and to be easy to maintain. When you can see what is happening it is so much easier to remember to keep on top of things.

We will be adding to the planting, as most of our budget went on landscaping and labour costs, but that suits me as I like the idea of choosing what to plant slowly, over time and of nurturing anything that self seeds in a new home as well as throwing lots of wild flower seeds about. I wanted the space to feel pretty wild and to attract nature, which all the plants really do.

Contact Philippa Oakes White – leave me a comment or tweet me @pennyalexander_ and I will put you in touch. Pip is based in Staffordshire, but travels!

What value does garden landscaping add to your home?

I was also sent some facts from Evander about the value different home improvement projects can bring to your home, I am pleased that for a quarter of the average cost of landscaping a garden, we’ve achieved a real difference to our home,  in terms of value to resell, and in value for all the family.

garden landscaping on a budget


How did we keep the cost down? Upcycling, recycling and reusing and a very creative garden designer.

Tips for garden landscaping on a budget

Recycle and reuse – upcycle old bits of wood or fence to build borders or raised beds, if you are digging, plan where to reuse the soil elsewhere to create shape. Old sandpits or water trays can become planters. The trampoline was recycled by sinking it, which in turn created the soil for the border.

Reseed – if you already have plants you like investigate if they can be split, cuttings taken or replant things that have reseeded elsewhere.

Go wild – wild flowers and plants are cheap and very cheerful.

Look for plants that create height quickly and cheaply while you let smaller plants grow, rather than buying big to start with – buddlehia and fennel worked well in our garden.

Create focal points and definition with bamboo edging, by planting in large pots or painting a wall or fence.


Stewed Apples

Apple Stew

When we stayed with my cousin in France my son fell in love with stewed apples made with apples from my cousin’s tree. He isn’t the world’s best eater and so it was wonderful to see him wolfing down bowlfuls of what is a pretty healthy pudding.

Stewed apples is such simple dish, but can we used for so many things. I made a huge batch with our apples from the garden and froze it. You can use it in apple pie or crumble, it’s a great one to feed kids. It’s wonderful plain and simple, warmed up, but also lovely with a dollop of yogurt, a sprinkle of cinnamon and some raisins for breakfast.

Peel and chop the apples into a pan that has a lid. Add 2 big teaspoons of sugar and 2 tablespoons of water.

You can also add cloves or cinnamon, but cinnamon works well when you eat it,

Put the lid on the pan and cook at medium heat, until the fruit has softened. You could try it and check it is sweet enough at this point, but blow on it like mad before you taste, it will be very hot. Add more sugar if it needs it.

Then remove the lid and let it reduce down until it is nice and thick.

Stewed Apples are great with pancakes, with these banana and egg pancakes it becomes two of your 5 a day!

Wear It Pink Homewares for Breast Cancer Now (Giveaway)

Wear it Pink

Wayfair.co.uk have a number of Wear It Pink homewares for sale in support of Breast Cancer Now, who are hosting #WearItPink on Friday 23rd October. I have some to fab Wear It Pink homewares to giveaway, but in return I would love your help in sharing the #wearitpink message.

All over the country people at home, work and school will be able to join in with #wearitpink, standing together against breast cancer. What stuck out when I was researching this post, was that Breast Cancer Now want to ensure no one dies from Breast Cancer by 2050.

Breast Cancer Now is the leading breast cancer research charity in the UK & Ireland, researching treatments, causes and prevention of breast cancer. One of the suppliers to Wayfair.co.uk is Ethos, Ethos has proudly supported the charity since 2010, (via Breast Cancer Campaign who amalgamated with Breakthrough Breast Cancer to form Breast Cancer Now), with a range of special pink homewares. Over the past three years Ethos are pleased to announce that they have exceeded their fundraising target of £30,000 and committed to raising a further £20,000 by 2015.

I am sure we all know someone who needs a heart emblazoned tea towel, apron or oven gloves. I can’t say I am pink’s number one fan, but this apron is gorgeous,  #wearitpink when baking and I think the tea towels would make a wonderful, warming addition to the kitchen. They would make lovely stocking fillers too I think.

So what you waiting for?


Shop it Pink!

For the full range of Wear It Pink homewares from Ethos at Wayfair.co.uk, for Breast Cancer Now, including saucepans, frying pans, pedal bin and juicer please click here.




I have an Ethos Breast Cancer Now set, as pictured above, to giveaway. I would love those of you on Twitter or Facebook to raise awareness of these Ethos Breast Cancer Now products by spreading my #wearitpink rafflecopter message, and sharing this giveaway.

Buy something regardless, it is a great cause.

To enter just leave a comment and follow the rafflecopter to register your entry and unlock other entries. I have also made tweeting the message compulsory, as this is for charity. If you can share this post on Facebook too, please do.


a Rafflecopter giveaway
More competitions here Image credit Shutterstock – Wearing Pink for Breast Cancer

When holidays make you want to knock walls down at home

Moda Plus Accommodation at Canvas Holidays

Do holidays ever give you grand designs on your home? Do they make you want to brandish the power tools, or the hammer, when you get home? We had a big sense of that after staying in our Moda Plus with Canvas Holidays, we just lived so easily there. It was really well designed and spacious, and quickly gave us a sense of how easy open plan living can be, so since we have been home we have been full of ideas to:

  • Link indoors and outdoors
  • Knock through living spaces
  • Think more cleverly about storage

The builder has been round to talk about knocking through our two downstairs rooms (playroom and living room) and building a door to the garden from what would then become a giant living room. Our house is Victorian, but we live so differently to the Victorians. Although, one modern trend I can’t cope with is open cupboards – unless you have the time to organise and keep on top of them they are a nightmare –  I’m inspired by all the clever storage cupboards in our Moda Plus though,  I think our floor to tall ceiling Victorian cupboards will stay – they add character too. I want to replace the open toy storage in what used to be the playroom with cupboards with doors.

Canvas Holidays

We chose Canvas Holidays’ Berny Riviere site, Camping La Croix de Vieux Pont, in Picardy, about an hour from Paris. It was perfectly placed to allow us to get to Paris, Eurodisney and to see my cousin who lives near Paris. It’s a really easy drive from Calais, around 3 hours, on very straightforward, clear roads.

This space really proved how easy family life can be when you have clever storage, plenty of opportunity to move from indoors to outdoors, and open plan spaces. The kitchen diner facilitated easy communication, helped us keep on top of our clutter – the last thing you want to be doing on holiday is running up and down stairs to find things –  and made it easy to relax and be together.

Moda Plus Accommodation at Canvas Holidays

We loved the doors out onto the decking, having this made us feel as if we were outdoors, even when we were lounging on the huge corner sofa together. The corner sofa is a sofa bed, so in a Moda Plus 3 bedroom you can actually fit 8 in this space, we used it when my cousin visited – Canvas campsites are great places for family to get together.

Moda Plus Accommodation at Canvas Holidays

I always dreamt of a decking, like you see in American films, big enough to fit a garden swing seat on, and to hang out together. Now I want to extend ours and wrap it round the house…

Moda Plus Accommodation at Canvas Holidays

The Moda Plus on Canvas Holidays was perfect after a busy day swimming, kayaking, cycling, bowling, go karting, or playing at the man made beach. It really was like having your own little house and garden to come home to.

Moda Plus Accommodation at Canvas Holidays

The bedrooms were compact, but so well designed with plenty of clever storage. Suitcases and shoes under the beds, clothes in the wardrobe, bits and pieces in over head lockers. We had a 3 bedroom Moda Plus, so apart from when family visited, the kids had a room each, which allowed them to spread out their stuff more.

Moda Plus Accommodation at Canvas Holidays

The Moda Plus had a shower, sink and toilet in one bathroom and a second toilet, both were spacious – nothing like a caravan bathroom!

The deck was a great place to hang out as a family and to entertain my cousin and family who visited.

Moda Plus Accommodation at Canvas Holidays

The bar stools were also a favourite place to hang out, and talk nonsense, or to prepare for an exciting day ahead with breakfast. I would love to have a breakfast bar at home. Again, the Moda Plus might be a small ground floor space, but it has everything I want in a house.

Moda Plus Accommodation at Canvas Holidays


Home Decoration Inspiration

Moda Plus Canvas holidays Home Inspiration

Bar stool, curtain and corner sofa from Wayfair UK.


Canvas Holidays

Hope you have enjoyed this tour of our Moda Plus on Canvas Holidays. The Canvas Holidays welcome is very friendly, and the wine we were left was top notch.

canvas holidays croix de la vieux pont berny riviere - 01

Canvas Holidays have a wide range of accommodation on their sites, ranging from bring your own tent pitches to safari tents, a range of mobile homes and log lodges – there really is something for all budgets, tastes and groups.

Find out more about Canvas Holidays who have sites all over Europe, bursting with stuff to keep families happy. Read more about what we got up to on site and locally here.

We were guests of Canvas Holidays, opinions and editorial remain my own.

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