Blog, Brew & Biscuits

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Welcome to the final edition of Blog, Brew and Biscuits; over the past couple of months, I opened up my blog to a group of rather lovely bloggers who have been sharing their blogging wisdom with you! There is a thriving community full of bloggers who have already walked in the steps I am taking and also new bloggers, who are also full of questions and who like me are finding their feet. So, for the final time, please make yourself comfy, have a brew, some biscuits and get to know from Julz from The Red Head Diaries.

Tell me a bit about yourself and what do you when you are not writing your blog:
I am married to my soul mate; I have five children; four I parent and one I share just her memory. I am a dinner lady and a volunteer at our local school; as well as attempting to write a novel or two; I am a Committee Member for a Majorette troupe, and finally I set up and run a local infant loss group! Phew!

Tell me about your blog and how long have you been writing it?

I actually have two! The first one I have been writing for almost six years and the second almost four – I have no idea where the years have gone! The first is my relationship with grief for our daughter. The other is a place where I can share memories, and pieces of fiction I have lingering about, which aren’t quite long enough to place into books.

What inspired you to start writing your blog?

Well, I have always loved writing and luckily for me my husband is also a writer and is incredibly supportive. In more recent years, I began jotting down our daughter’s life through NICU, what was meant to be a diary ready for memories, turned into a diary centred on bereavement, when I became pregnant with her younger sister I decided to blog our pregnancy. In time I really fell in love with writing and wanted to include the rest of the family, and the things we do; but felt it was inappropriate to share parenting memories on a place I wanted to give comfort and hope to newly bereaved parents. Although there have been a couple of name changes – The Red Head Diaries was born!

What advice would you give to someone thing about starting a blog/just started writing a blog?

1. Would be to look into self-hosted ASAP. It is reasonably cheap, easy to set up and if you don’t like it. Cancel it.
2. Know your content; I lost my way a little bit, just after I finally turned to self-hosting; I found I was comparing myself, and trying to keep up and do the same as the thousands of other bloggers out there. I hated it. Be yourself.

Let’s talk Social Media, how do you balance this with your blog and everyday life?

I try to schedule as much as I can; but I spend my weekends working on content as we’re both home. We’re still trying to find our way; but we’ll be sure to get there.

Where do you see your blog going in the next few years?

I just want my work to be read; I don’t want it to go un-noticed. I love writing for both the blogs; raising awareness with one, and just plain writing for the other. That would be awesome!

What do you find is the hardest part about writing a blog?

Content Planning. Sometimes it can be hard to find the content; when you do you realise wither everyone else has thought of it; or you have forgotten you have already covered it in a different manner. Also I think getting your blogs seen and read is really hard; unless you have time to literally sit on your phone all day on Instagram, sharing, sharing, and sharing (which is amazing if you can – I can’t); then placing yourself on top of all the other great bloggers can be hard and at times really disheartening.

And the easiest?

Writing and planning. When you have found your Niche, and the content you want to put in you blog it can be easy just to sit and go with the flow. Do NOT procrastinate in the middle of that flow – because you will break it!

Lastly, for a bit of fun, if you could only watch one movie, listen to one song and read one book, again, what would they be?

The one movie would be – Gone In 60 Seconds
The one song would be – Radiohead – Creep
The one book would be Alice in Wonderland

I would like to thank Julz for joining me on my blog – please take the time to visit her Blog too – The Red Head Diaries.

You can also find Julz on:

Facebook Page: Mrs S Writes
Instagram: mrsswrites
Twitter: mrsswrites

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Blog, Brew & Biscuits

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Over the next few weeks, I am opening up my blog to some lovely bloggers to share their blogging experiences with you! There is a thriving community full of bloggers who have already walked in the steps I am about to take and also relatively new bloggers, who are full of questions and finding their feet. So, make yourself comfy, have a brew, some biscuits and get to know Emma from Wanderlust and Wet Wipes

Tell me a bit about yourself and what do you when you are not writing your blog?

My name is Emma and I am an expat stay at home mum to 2 completely bonkers but usually adorable kids aged 5 and 3. Since they are both at school full time now, I have a lot more free time than I used to. I fill it with a variety of things including the blog, obviously, but also volunteering at school, helping with a Brownie Pack and running events for a women’s network where we live.

Tell me about your blog and how long have you been writing it?

I’ve been writing Wanderlust and Wet Wipes for almost 1 year now and I’m totally loving it although it can be overwhelming at times! I describe myself as an expat adventure family travel blogger which is a bit long winded but hopefully describes what I do! My aim is to help and inspire other families to travel together. For some people this might mean pushing themselves out of their comfort zones. For others who used to take super adventurous holidays pre-kids, it might mean finding a balance where they feel the holidays work for all of them.

What inspired you to start writing your blog?

Basically we had a series of holidays which just didn’t work for us for various reasons. They were either too relaxed and didn’t do enough for my husband and I, or they were too full-on and ended up overwhelming us all. THEN we had an amazing holiday in Bali at the end of 2016.

I’d been looking for inspiration on what to do when I grow up since leaving my 9-5 in the UK to come and live in the Middle East. And suddenly it struck me that I should do something in travel. I’d always thought I could write a blog but never felt there was anything I could really contribute that wasn’t already being covered by other more established bloggers. A friend (now my blogger bestie!) really encouraged me to get started and I haven’t looked back.

What advice would you give to someone thing about starting a blog/just started writing a blog?

Don’t underestimate how hard it can be. It is lonely and it is definitely NOT just about writing something well and posting it. There is so much that goes on behind the scenes. I wasn’t naive going into it myself, particularly with a friend in the business so to speak. I knew there was much more to it than met the eye but just educating yourself on what it all is and how to do it can be overwhelming! I still get frustrated at just how much I have to learn.

Let’s talk Social Media, how do you balance this with your blog and everyday life?

I split social media in to 2 parts. The first is the blogging bit. I’d say I probably do around 50/50 blogging to social media and other promotion of my posts but I’m conscious that if I want my stuff to get out there then I need to make that more like 80/20 in favour of self promotion. It’s hard, especially as a newbie, to understand the changes that are happening all the time in social media. The change in Instagram’s algorithm affected me and I didn’t really understand what had happened until later. Facebook has recently announced that it will be requiring much more interaction in our content for it to show it to more people. It’s not enough just to like something anymore. On a personal level I really applaud this but it will make my blogging life more difficult, at least for a while.

The second is what I want to see which is actually less and less these days as I find myself following lots of other bloggers. Ironically I spend way less personal time now on social media than I used to.

Where do you see your blog going in the next few years?
I’d love to be earning money for travelling the world but I guess I’m in a rather big group there! It would be brilliant if I could get myself a reputation for being a super honest and reliable writer. My writing style is a bit warts and all to show that you can still have a great time on holiday even if stuff goes wrong.

What do you find is the hardest part about writing a blog?
Self promotion. And working long hours which I know I need to do if I really want it to go somewhere.

And the easiest?
The research part – travelling! It is my passion so who can say better than that?!

Lastly, for a bit of fun, if you could only watch one movie, listen to one song and read one book, again, what would they be?
Movie – Love Actually
Song – Don’t Stop Me Now – Queen
Book – The Time Travellers Wife

The Lupie Mummy would like to thank Emma for joining me on my blog, please take the time to visit her Blog – Wanderlust and Wet Wipes.

Emma is also on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter

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Memories: Reykjavik, Iceland

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This week Facebook kindly reminded me that two years ago I spent 4 days exploring Iceland, as a solo traveller! Well, I say a solo traveller, Pumpkin was slowly beginning to grow inside me and was I was about seven weeks pregnant!

So, let’s rewind eighteen months before that adventure, I was determined to tick something off my bucket list and on the spur of the moment booked myself on a break to Reykjavik, this was with the hope to see the Northern lights! I have no problems or fear in travelling solo, I have been to Australia, America, Tunisia and Greece before on my own and have had some fantastic times and made wonderful memories!

Should I stay or should I go?

Between the time of booking the holiday and actually going, I met the man who is now my fiancé and the very proud Dad to Pumpkin! We looked at all the ways in which he could come on this holiday too, but it just was not possible, so this was going to be my last solo adventure! However, shortly before heading off on my adventure, we discovered that I was pregnant…this raised all sorts of questions to whether I should still go, did I want to go?, could I still go?, and all sorts of things ran through my head! Anyway, I decided that I was still going to go, as I had already bought all the thermals, hats, gloves, boots and a winter coat that would keep me warm on the coldest of Icelandic days! Yes, I could have returned these items, but do you know what, I really wanted to go.

A little panic…

Memories: Iceland This week Facebook kindly reminded me that two years ago I spent 4 days exploring Iceland, as a solo traveller! Well, I say a solo traveller, Pumpkin was slowly beginning to grow inside me and was I was about seven weeks pregnant! So, let’s rewind eighteen months before that adventure, I was determined to tick something off my bucket list and on the spur of the moment booked myself on a break to Reykjavik, this was with the hope to see the Northern lights! I have no problems or fear in travelling solo, I have been to Australia, America, Tunisia and Greece before on my own and have had some fantastic times and made wonderful memories! Between the time of booking the holiday and actually going, I met the man who is now my fiancé and the very proud Dad to Pumpkin! We looked at all the ways in which he could come on this holiday too, but it just was not possible, so this was going to be my last solo adventure! However, shortly before heading off on my adventure, we discovered that I was pregnant...this raised all sorts of questions to whether I should still go, did I want to go?, could I still go?, and all sorts of things ran through my head! Anyway, I decided that I was still going to go, as I had already bought all the thermals, hats, gloves, boots and a winter coat that would keep me warm on the coldest of Icelandic days! Yes, I could have returned these items, but do you know what, I really wanted to go. When I arrived in Reykjavik, I immediately remembered that I get scared when walking in the snow and ice - I somehow loose my ability to walk properly and all of a sudden I was gripped in fear of falling over and hurting myself and my little growing Pumpkin. No, this had not at any time come into my thought process during my wonderfully brave spur of the moment booking, or dreams of the Northern Lights in the preceding eighteen months! I felt silly, what had I done! So I sat on my bed (in my little single hotel room) and gave myself a little talking too! I remembered that the people in North Face, assured me my boots were fine for the weather and terrain, and that I had also packed some extra grippy ice clamp things to put on my boots make me feel better/more confident. Which did the trick (and “I will be fine” also became my little mantra for the next four days), and went off to explore! I got to see some wonderful places over the next four days, frozen waterfalls, mountain ranges, National Parks, and Geysers. Whilst I mention Geysers, despite the boiling water shooting up into the sky, this hits the ground and turns into ice rather quickly, so if your pregnant and visiting this, watch out for the very, very slippery ice. However, it does also double up as a good place to take a step back and people watch (from a distance, as you can still see the Geyser) and oh it does make great comical viewing! One of my favourite places that I visited, was the Blue Lagoon, it was absolute pure bliss. Before I went, I did my research, and I could go into the pools; but being pregnant; I just had to be aware of the water temperatures and how long I was in the pool for at any one time. I enjoyed wallowing in the pools, having a face mask and feeling the cold Icelandic air around me. The careful walk from the changing room to the pools and back again was rather bracing, but that was part of the fun, I think (I must admit, it was at this point, I did wish I hired one of the lovely fluffy bath robes!). Of course one of the biggest lures to Iceland in winter are the Northern Lights and like many of the other people staying in my hotel, I was eager to see them too! Many of the excursions that go off in search of the Aurora Borealis, will often take you out each night of your stay until you get to see them. On my third night, I was lucky enough to catch to catch a glimpse of the Northern Lights and it was beautiful. I chose to watch them and enjoy them with my eyes, rather than through a camera lens, so apologies for no photographs! Iceland is famous for its local delicacies; most of which I couldn’t sample being pregnant. Now, I don’t know whether or not this was a good or bad thing really! I was really careful what I ate, and I felt that this did somewhat limit what I could have and where I could go and eat. However, I did find some lovely restaurants/cafes) near to the hotel which I visited throughout my stay. However, what really helped me during my stay and calmed my sickness, was hot chocolate! Weirdly, hot chocolate was the only thing that helped my morning sickness during the early stages of pregnancy, and I took advantage of this and took numerous hot chocolate stops around Reykjavik to warm up! What didn’t help much on the food side of things, was I went off a whole host of foods and the blander the food, the better. I had completely gone off fish, and the smell of fish and anything fishy induced waves of nausea; so, as you can imagine this was rather problematic in Iceland! I did have a lovely time, and Iceland was a beautiful country; Reykjavik was and felt a safe city for a solo female traveller. I must admit, I was constantly aware of the ice and snow, and worried about slipping, which I probably wouldn’t have been so bothered about if I wasn’t pregnant; but for those braver than me in the snow, it really wouldn’t put you off having a lovely and adventurous time! Would I go back? Yes, but I would like to go back in the summer and hire a car to be able to have a driving holiday, to be able to explore more than where the coach excursions are able to get to!

When I arrived in Reykjavik, I immediately remembered that I get scared when walking in the snow and ice – I somehow loose my ability to walk properly and all of a sudden I was gripped in fear of falling over and hurting myself and my little growing Pumpkin. No, this had not at any time come into my thought process during my wonderfully brave spur of the moment booking, or dreams of the Northern Lights in the preceding eighteen months! I felt silly, what had I done! So I sat on my bed (in my little single hotel room) and gave myself a little talking too! I remembered that the people in North Face, assured me my boots were fine for the weather and terrain, and that I had also packed some extra grippy ice clamp things to put on my boots make me feel better/more confident. Which did the trick (and “I will be fine” also became my little mantra for the next four days), and went off to explore!

Exploring!

I got to see some wonderful places over the next four days, frozen waterfalls, mountain ranges, National Parks, and Geysers. Whilst I mention Geysers, despite the boiling water shooting up into the sky, this hits the ground and turns into ice rather quickly, so if your pregnant and visiting this, watch out for the very, very slippery ice. However, it does also double up as a good place to take a step back and people watch (from a distance, as you can still see the Geyser) and oh it does make great comical viewing!

One of my favourite places that I visited, was the Blue Lagoon, it was absolute pure bliss. Before I went, I did my research, and I could go into the pools; but being pregnant; I just had to be aware of the water temperatures and how long I was in the pool for at any one time. I enjoyed wallowing in the pools, having a face mask and feeling the cold Icelandic air around me. The careful walk from the changing room to the pools and back again was rather bracing, but that was part of the fun, I think (I must admit, it was at this point, I did wish I hired one of the lovely fluffy bath robes!).

Memories-Iceland-Reykjavik-Mountain-Cold-snow-Northern-lights_pregnant-solo-traveller-bucket-list

Of course one of the biggest lures to Iceland in winter are the Northern Lights and like many of the other people staying in my hotel, I was eager to see them too! Many of the excursions that go off in search of the Aurora Borealis, will often take you out each night of your stay until you get to see them. On my third night, I was lucky enough to catch to catch a glimpse of the Northern Lights and it was beautiful. I chose to watch them and enjoy them with my eyes, rather than through a camera lens, so apologies for no photographs!

Being pregnant and local Icelandic delicacies

Iceland is famous for its local delicacies; most of which I couldn’t sample being pregnant. Now, I don’t know whether or not this was a good or bad thing really! I was really careful what I ate, and I felt that this did somewhat limit what I could have and where I could go and eat. However, I did find some lovely restaurants/cafes) near to the hotel which I visited throughout my stay. However, what really helped me during my stay and calmed my sickness, was hot chocolate! Weirdly, hot chocolate was the only thing that helped my morning sickness during the early stages of pregnancy, and I took advantage of this and took numerous hot chocolate stops around Reykjavik to warm up! What didn’t help much on the food side of things, was I went off a whole host of foods and the blander the food, the better. I had completely gone off fish, and the smell of fish and anything fishy induced waves of nausea; so, as you can imagine this was rather problematic in Iceland!

My thoughts:

Memories-Iceland-Reykjavik-Mountain-Cold-snow-Northern-lights_pregnant-solo-traveller-bucket-list

I did have a lovely time, and Iceland was a beautiful country; Reykjavik was and felt a safe city for a solo female traveller. I must admit, I was constantly aware of the ice and snow, and worried about slipping, which I probably wouldn’t have been so bothered about if I wasn’t pregnant; but for those braver than me in the snow, it really wouldn’t put you off having a lovely and adventurous time! Would I go back? Yes, but I would like to go back in the summer and hire a car to be able to have a driving holiday, to be able to explore more than where the coach excursions are able to get to!

Blog, Brew & Biscuits

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Over the next few weeks, I am opening up my blog to some lovely bloggers to share their blogging experiences with you! There is a thriving community full of bloggers who have already walked in the steps I am about to take and also relatively new bloggers, who are full of questions and finding their feet. So, make yourself comfy, have a brew, some biscuits and get to know Mercedes from Mercedes Prunty Author, The Walking Mumbie!

Tell me a bit about yourself and what do you when you are not writing your blog:
When I am not writing my blog, I am either running around after my two young daughters, taking them for days out, cooking or playing Lego, or I’m sitting in some sort of peace when they are at school and nursery writing my books.
I’m a self-published author of 5 books to date, soon to be 8 by the end of this year. My genres are mainly Zombie Horror and Fantasy but I hope to (by the end of the week after writing this) to have published my first children’s book!!!

Tell me about your blog and how long have you been writing it?
I have been writing my blog for a couple of years now but at first it was mainly a hobby, a way to write when my mind couldn’t focus on books, but I still needed to write to stay sane. It’s mostly a blog about me, my books, writing tips, author interviews, book reviews, film reviews, days out – Just anything that I feel needs to be blogged about.

What inspired you to start writing your blog?
What inspired me to start my blog was a woman who came to do a talk at a writers group I belonged to. She told us all that to succeed in growing our audience for our books we needed an author platform, our author platforms needed to be Blog, Facebook and Twitter (The BFT). And she was so right, although my blog isn’t huge it does have some hardcore followers which is fab and those followers follow me and my books.

What advice would you give to someone thing about starting a blog/just started writing a blog?
My advice would be to find your niche early on. I waivered with mine and stepped into a few niches till I found my voice, so it took me a while to build the brand I wanted to become. Also – Plan, Plan, Plan – Keep a notebook with blog post ideas in and keep track of what you post, this way you will never run out of ideas.

Let’s talk Social Media, how do you balance this with your blog and everyday life?
How do I balance it all – Badly!!! It’s hard to keep on top of social media just because you can get lost in it and not do what it is you really need to be doing. I try to stay away during my work time (So I can write those books) and go on more in the evening when kids and hubby are asleep, as I want to keep my precious family time social media free to a certain degree.

Where do you see your blog going in the next few years?
Hopefully booming into the success that you see others have but I feel mine is so different to the ones that make a huge success because I’m not the normal mummy and make up, I’m mummy and books which is hard to grab readers for. But I have had people tell me my blog posts help them, so I know there are people out there who do like it.

What do you find is the hardest part about writing a blog?
Sourcing images. That is hard because I am on as tight budget so can only use the free sites which can be limited in their photos, but in saying that the images I have used from those sites are still high quality and eye catching.

And the easiest?
Just the whole writing it, I love writing, writing is me. I feel at my happiest once I have written something each day. So to me the writing part is easy.

Lastly, for a bit of fun, if you could only watch one movie, listen to one song and read one book, again, what would they be?
Chandelier by Sia – Love, love, love this song and it also helped me to write my book ‘Alone’.
City of the dead by S.D.Perry – It’s a book based on the hit Resident Evil 2 video game by Capcom but put into a book by the author. But it’s not just a quick scribble of what happens, the author gives the story detail the game misses and I have read it at least 20 times over so could happily read it again.
Resident Evil the film – This made me scared back in the day and can still scare me now even though I know it word for word and scene for scene. I think it’s the music in it by Marilyn Manson. Just gives me Goosebumps thinking of the music in the film.

The Lupie Mummy would like to thank Mercedes for joining me on my blog, please take the time to visit her Blog Mercedes Prunty Author – The Walking Mumbie.

Mercedes is also on Twitter & Facebook

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Blog, Brew & Biscuits

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I have been opening up my blog to some lovely bloggers to share their blogging experiences with you! This week, Cath from Battle Mum is sharing her blogging story and some fantastic advice.  So, make yourself comfy, have a brew, some biscuits and get to know Cath!

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Tell me a bit about yourself and what do you when you are not writing your blog:
I’m a 40-year-old Irish ex-pat now living in Portugal. We lived in South Wales before our move to Portugal last year and we have a little boy who recently turned 4. I used to be a scientist before giving up my job last March before our move. Nowadays, when I’m not writing for the blog, I’m pottering around the house, walking the dog, trying to learn Portuguese or helping my folks with their shopping. It’s a quiet life compared to 12 months ago.

Tell me about your blog and how long have you been writing it?
My blog started life over three years ago as a parenting blog during the last two months of my maternity leave. I had kept pregnancy diaries and thought it might be a good way of documenting life with our son. However, due to a long recovery from birth I didn’t start writing until our son was 10 months old. Since then the blog has evolved and is now a family travel and lifestyle blog. I write more about our travels than anything else, and my blog naturally change pace last year.

What inspired you to start writing your blog?
My husband and sister-in-law were both writing blogs at the time and I admired them. My husband was writing a blog about life as a first-time-dad. He wasn’t necessarily sharing things about our son, more his own experiences alongside geeky things, and I thought I could fill the gap. My sister-in-law is a very successful beauty blogger in Ireland and I admired her for it. So, my inspiration came from them.

What advice would you give to someone thinking about starting a blog/just started writing a blog?
Before you type one letter, buy your domain name and go self-hosted. I didn’t know anything about this, but my husband insisted I wait until he set me up and I’m so glad I did. It meant I never had to worry about going self-hosted later and brand opportunities passing me by because I wasn’t.

Let’s talk Social Media, how do you balance this with your blog and everyday life?
This is something I struggle with, as I’m sure many other bloggers do. Social Media takes up a huge amount of time and I find it hard to balance this with everyday life. To gain a presence and followers, you need to be seen on social media and be engaging, and as one successful blogger puts it, social media is a time suck. If I check my phone with the intention of only doing a couple of minutes, an hour later I’m still on one platform or another. I try to limit my social media time when our son is around as it’s not fair for him to see me on my phone a lot. I also don’t check social media in the evenings when I am relaxing with my husband as we get very little time together as it is. If we’re out and about, I’ll try avoid it at all costs, and only post to Instagram when we get home. I also try to limit it as much as possible to during the day while my son is in school. But it’s a real struggle for me.

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Where do you see your blog going in the next few years?
I’d like to see other parents and families get value from my blog now that it’s focused on travel. I want to share our travels and advice to encourage more families to travel with their kids, even from a young age, and I hope we can inspire them to do that. I’d love to make a living from my blog, but I do think this is going to be difficult without sacrificing family time for more blogging time. But now that I have a focus, I can see me enjoying writing even more over the next few years.

What do you find is the hardest part about writing a blog?
The hardest thing I find is that it is so much more than just typing a few words about a subject. A lot of my travel posts also include some level of research, to do the post justice. Then you’ve got the photos to sort and edit, the graphics to prepare, find the best keywords for SEO, and all this before you hit that Publish button. After that, it’s promotion on social media, taking part in Facebook groups and everything else that goes on afterwards. People who don’t write a blog themselves think it’s easy and is ‘just writing’ but it’s so much more than that. And even more so if you are working with a brand as there is an added level of pressure to do a good job. I sometimes wonder how I kept a blog going while working full-time in the UK.

And the easiest?
The easiest part is when the words are flowing because you feel passionate about the post, or it’s a post about something you have/do enjoy. Those ones are the easiest for me to write and are the ones that are completed very quickly.

Lastly, for a bit of fun, if you could only watch one movie, listen to one song and read one book, again, what would they be?
If I could only watch one movie again it would have to be Some Like It Hot, my all-time favourite movie.

The one song is more difficult. Music plays a big part in my life and it’s hard for me to pick one song. Perhaps Africa by Toto or Everybody’s Talking by Nilsson. Both have special meanings for me.

As for the one book it would probably be Lord of the Rings. I’m probably cheating but I’m sure someone has published the three as one somewhere!

Thank you Cath for joining me on my blog – please take the time to visit Cath’s Blog – Battle Mum.

Cath is also on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and YouTube

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