A little facelift {for my hallway bench!}

I wrote last year about finding the perfect narrow hallway bench seat for our wonky little cottage.

We didn’t have to look very hard, as I found the perfect small hallway bench with storage from GLTC.

The Abbeville storage bench is SO useful and a master of disguise.

It works well as a little reading nook.

Or as smart storage for a child’s bedroom or playroom.

But — after much deliberation — we decided that it was a perfect hideaway, for the mountain of shoes that seem to accumulate by our front door.

It’s roomy baskets offer plenty of storage; perfect stashing things away neatly.

Plus, it doubles up as a bench seat, thanks to the comfy cushion on the top.

It’s the perfect place for the little ones to put their shoes on. Or sit and gaze out of the window.

It’s so versatile but also, when you’re short on room, it’s diminutive dimensions mean it’s perfect for small spaces.

But best of all — as Great Little Trading have cleverly designed various baskets and boxes, that fit the recesses of this neat little hallway bench — it gives lots of scope to update the look of it.

Particularly if you’re a bit fickle (like me) and like mixing things up regularly.

Previously, we had charcoal grey rope storage baskets — and a pale grey cushion patterned with white stars — but I’ve just changed these in favour of some two-tone baskets in ivory and natural; plus an Abbeville Storage Bench cushion in natural.

It changes the look of our hallway bench completely!

A couple of little changes and it feels like we have a totally different piece of furniture.

The Abbeville is such a great size, we’d struggle to find a better small hallway bench with storage. But the ability to change the look and feel of it so simply, just with some new accessories, means that I’ll give it houseroom for many years to come.

I’d perhaps like Great Little Trading to produce a lovely cushion cover in a ticking-stripe fabric; maybe in charcoal grey or cherry red (hint!).

And, if I’m feeling crafty, perhaps I’ll update the baskets with pom-poms (as they’ve done on their blog); which will tie in nicely with my gorgeous summer ‘market basket’, that I picked up in The Hambledon last month.

But facelifts, pom-poms and ticking-stripe aside, our little hallway bench still makes the very best place to sit and look out of the window.

The Abbeville storage bench is usually £165 but GLTC have got a cracking 20% off on furniture ranges at the mo — and you can bag one for a cool £132!

Better be quick!

I am proud to be a GLTC testing team member but all thoughts, words and images, as ever, are entirely my own. 

Is it a bird, is it a plane? {GLTC Festival Van / Play Kitchen Review}

The first week of December has given us a bitter wind and the clearest, bluest skies. As you know, I’m not keen on the short dark days but I make an exception for the final month of the year.

I love December.

From the very first day — to the very last — it’s a month full of excitement and anticipation.

The lead up to Christmas is usually a  happy one for me. The rituals of advent; calendar opening, present buying and planning for the big day are things that I relish.

I’m definitely a Christmas fairy — rather than a Grinch.

Talking of Christmas, if you’re still looking for a present to wow the little people in your life — be it your children or even your grandkids — I wanted to share my number one best present idea with you.

I give you — drum-roll please — the Festival Food Van from GLTC. Ta-daaah!

A play kitchen with a difference; one to keep little ones amused all year round (certainly not just for Christmas).

This clever bit of kit is a master of disguise.

Is it a van? Or a play kitchen?

The GLTC festival food van / play kitchen — perfect for imaginative play

Well. It’s both.

And — depending on how broad your child’s imagination is — it also makes a great rocket-ship, post office and even a theatre.

Amongst other things.

It’s been a catalyst for so much role play.  And it’s one of those rare toys that they don’t fight over.

It promotes very ‘busy’ play — if that makes sense? Lots of making and doing.

And it’s very sweet to see these vivid little imaginations at work.

The GLTC festival food van / play kitchen — perfect for imaginative play

GLTC play food — felt pizza

The GLTC festival food van / play kitchen — perfect for imaginative play

The GLTC festival food van / play kitchen — perfect for imaginative play
Bertie hard at work in the GLTC festival food van / play kitchen

The Long & Short of It

It took the Twinkles’ daddy around an hour and a half to put it together. Not a bad effort for something that’s been the provider of many hours amusement for the twins.

And — as a result — peace and quiet for me.

Always a bonus.

It’s a sturdy piece of kit (made out of wood and MDF) and has a couple of handy casters at one end, which means it can be dragged from room to room. Or outside.

The front of the kitchen is painted to look like a little vehicle — with wheels and a serving hatch. Plus a little chalkboard to write the name of your ‘event’ on.

The GLTC festival food van / play kitchen — perfect for imaginative play

The GLTC festival food van / play kitchen — perfect for imaginative play

The GLTC festival food van / play kitchen — perfect for imaginative play

The GLTC festival food van / play kitchen — perfect for imaginative play

Turn it round and you’ll find a sink and a cooker — plus a hob painted on to the top of the work-surface.

All very chunky and basic but perfect for little hands and BIG imaginations.

Burger anyone?

It’s not perhaps as comprehensive as, say, the Sea Salt Play Kitchen; with it’s spangly washing machine and 3D hob.

But for two little boys who like to play shops, festivals, restaurants and AA man rescue —

(yes — that really IS a game)

— it’s brilliant.

And if you pair it with some of the Great Little Trading Company’s other fab items — felt food and a little wooden till (for example) — it will be something that gives not just hours, but years of enjoyment.

Festival Fun

The boys are such little festival veterans.

Our excursion to this year’s Just So festival marked their 10th four dayer and we’ve been asked once again to write for Camp Bestival next year.

So having something that brings back such happy and familiar memories for them is fantastic. Especially now that festival season is over.

They’ve dressed up in their festival finest on many a weekend, since we were given the Festival Food Van to try out.

And their daddy and I have been treated to lunch on many occasions too. Felt pizza — with broccoli and olives — is a speciality of the boys’ festival play kitchen.

As are felt sandwiches with some quite random fillings.

I love the fact that this little MDF van is not only a vehicle for imaginative play — and has provided the boys with endless hours of entertainment — but another bonus is that it houses 6 little shelves. So when they’ve finished playing, all of the play-food can be neatly packed away.

You can even get mini shop crates from GLTC to store everything in.

Pizza with broccoli anyone?

So there we have it.

If you’re wanting something that will keep the little people in your life amused — for longer than just the Christmas holidays — the GLTC Festival Van / Play Kitchen is just the ticket.

My two little testing team members both love it and have given it a — very enthusiastic — double thumbs up.

It has more novelty factor and playability than your average play kitchen and (as long as you don’t mind accepting endless cups of ‘pretend tea’ or ‘make believe burgers’) you won’t regret making the investment.

Just to reiterate:  it took Mr D — who’s pretty handy with his tools — around an hour and a half to put the play kitchen together.

If you’re going to buy it as a Christmas gift, I’d recommend that you set aside some time beforehand to assemble it all;  to ensure that your budding chefs will be able to cook up a storm on Christmas morning!

The Festival Food Van usually retails at £160 but, at the moment, GLTC are offering a huge 25% off almost all of their toys, so you can snap one up for a bargainous £120.

And that, my friends, works out at just 33p a day over the course of a year. Money well spent for hours of entertainment!

Pop over and see what other amazing offers The Great Little Trading company have on at the mo.

I am proud to be a GLTC testing team member but all thoughts, words and images, as ever, are entirely my own. 

The GLTC Abbeville Storage Bench {The smartest smart storage}

Smart storage.

Does the ‘smart’ mean clever? Or does  it mean dapper and debonair?

Well in the case of the Abbeville Storage Bench from GLTC it means both of those things.

This is one bit of furniture that’s as clever as is it good looking.

The Perfect Reading Nook.

When we first bought the Abbeville home, Bertie declared that it would be a good place to put his books.

Hmmm. Yes. It would make the perfect reading corner.

It wasn’t quite what I had in mind for it, but I could totally see where he was coming from.

The three recesses make the perfect book-store. Deep and high enough for the tallest, widest books. Plus the cushioned seat makes a lovely reading perch.

This smart storage bench is the perfect addition to any child’s bedroom. Looking for a little library and reading nook in one neat package?

The Abbeville ticks all the boxes.

We already have book shelves but invariably the books get taken and read elsewhere. So somewhere to sit — and store the books — all in once place is a very clever idea indeed.

I get a bit fed up seeing books strewn about the house, if I’m honest, so a dedicated library corner made total sense.

I definitely liked his way of thinking. But I had other plans for this unit.

And so, it seemed, did Cosmo.

He thought that it would be a brilliant place to put all his favourite toys.

Smart Storage For Playrooms.

As well as a great place to store books, the three bays in the Abbeville can also house canvas or oilcloth storage cubes — or roomy woven baskets — which are perfect for stowing away toys.

We have lovely charcoal grey rope baskets for ours; which hold a surprising amount of clobber (and can also double up as log baskets!).

Lego, Hot Wheels cars — the plastic tat that comes out of magazines — can all be hidden beautifully out of sight.

And if you ditch the cushion, the top of the unit makes a great play table.

The white finish goes really well in the twins’ room and it’s lovely for them to each have a dedicated storage unit for their toys.

I guess it’s amazing having a twin, but having to share practically everything must wear thin every now and then. They shared my womb for 8 months. They share a room, toys, clothes, books…

So having their own, personal space for their favourite things must be lovely. But sorry boys. Not on this occasion.

That’s not what I had in mind either.

This Smart Storage Bench was totally made for Hallways.

Now, I’ve mentioned before about our lack of hallway.

We have a small vestibule — about 2 foot square — that leads off the front door.  And whilst the amazing GLTC pigeonhole wall shelf has solved the dilemma of where to hang scarves and coats, there was nowhere for shoes and boots.

The Abbeville was the perfect piece of furniture to solve our hallway dilemmas.

Sick of shoes lining up by the door? Or worse, thrown in a cardboard box in the kitchen, as ours once were.


(Oh the shame.)

This  roomy woven baskets are perfect for stowing away everyone’s footwear. The boys love sitting on the little bench seat to put their shoes on. And diligently pop their footwear in the baskets when they return home.

It fits discreetly in the room — doesn’t look out of place at all — and has totally solved the shoe mountain.


The epitome of smart storage. Clever, good looking and can be used a myriad of different ways.

Although, in our home, there was only ever ONE use. This smart cookie is staying firmly put in the hall!

The Abbeville storage bench starts at £185 and, in my humble opinion, is worth every penny. Pop over and see what other smart storage solutions The Great Little Trading company have.

I am proud to be a GLTC testing team member but all thoughts, words and images, as ever, are entirely my own. 

The GLTC Skinny Oxford Desk {not just for the kids}

Since I’ve been on the GLTC testing team I’ve come across so many of their products that cross over from being just a ‘kid’s thing’ to something that seamlessly fits into any location.

Take the Pigeonhole Wall Shelf that I featured a couple of month’s ago.

Use it in the hall, bathroom, nursery. Or pop it in the kitchen, study or garage.

It works everywhere.

So, these days, when I’m looking for a specific piece of furniture —even for a room other than the boys’ bedroom — the Great Little Trading Company is often my first port of call.

So many of their products are so much more than ‘just’ for the kids.

I decided just after Christmas that one of our guest rooms needed a little desk or dressing table. Although there is built in shelving and other storage in there, it felt a little bit basic and sparse.

It’s a lovely room, situated up in the eaves. But the quirky angles and beams — coupled with the fact that it’s not the largest space — make it tricky to find things that suit the scale and style of the room.

I took some measurements and the piece I needed had to be fairly short — and not too deep — as I wanted to pop it just behind the door.

GLTC came up with the perfect solution.

Meet The Skinny Oxford Desk.

This little desk may be diminutive in stature but it’s certainly no shrinking violet!

Made of a solid wood frame with MDF panels — all coated in a smooth, bright white finish. This little desk has slotted in so perfectly; it looks like it was made for the space.

Measuring just 80cm wide, it’s smaller than some of the other desks on the market but it has a generous draw that spans the width of the piece. This offers surprisingly generous storage; which is fantastic for hiding away all your bits and bobs.

No Degree In Engineering Required

It was easy to put together too. I did it myself and it took me about three quarters of an hour.

And given flat pack furniture has such a bad rep — and can cause so much grief and upset — I was pleasantly surprised!

I love the fact that it’s slotted so perfectly into the style of the room; particularly as I can see from the GLTC website listing that it would fit just as well in a bright, modern kid’s space as it does in our 17th century cottage.

Plus it’s versatile too.

As it’s name suggests, it’s a desk but pop a little mirror on the top and you’d have the perfect little dressing table.

The Perfect Little Work Space

My favourite thing about this new addition is the fact that it’s situated right at the top of house; out of the way of real life.

Not a child, husband or animal in sight.

No phones ringing and out of earshot of the doorbell; so it’s literally the most peaceful little corner of the cottage.

And with that lovely smooth white top, this little desk has provided me with the perfect place to photograph things for my Instagram feed too!

One of my lovely blogging buddies Fionnuala — from the blog Three Sons Later — kindly sent me a little package of treats last week to cheer me up. Lots of gorgeous stationery and — best of all — a packet of chocolate covered marzipan.

As I can’t get out to my she-shed at the moment, the little desk upstairs is the ideal place to photograph everything.

(And also one of the only places in the house to eat the marzipan without having to share it with anyone else!!)

So there we have it.

The Skinny Oxford Desk. Definitely not just for the kids.

This fabulous little desk usually retails at £200 but it’s currently on offer at a steal at £170! Be quick!! Grab a bargain whilst you can!

Thanks so much to the Great Little Trading Co for providing me with a Skinny Oxford Desk for the purposes of styling this post. I am proud to be a GLTC testing team member but all thoughts, words and images, as ever, are entirely my own.

The GLTC Pigeonhole Wall Shelf {The most versatile shelf in the world}

So. When I wrote this post, I spent the next half an hour humming Prince’s ‘Most Beautiful Girl In The World’ — *replace actual lyrics for the above title and you’ll see where I’m coming from*.

But the Pigeonhole Wall Shelf from GLTC is exactly that.

The most versatile shelf.

My boy had originally bagged it for his workshop but he, reluctantly, had to agree that it was far too nice for that.

It also works well in an office; I had it firmly in my sights for my she-shed but had to concede that it’s invaluable in another spot in our home.

The Pigeonhole Wall Shelf was totally made for the bathroom.

Pigeonhole Wall Shelf from GLTC

Pigeonhole Wall Shelf from GLTC

A great, wall-hung, storage solution for all those bits and bobs.

Three handy little hooks for towels, wash-bags and other bathroom essentials.

For me, essentials would mean shower-gel or a  sponge; for my two littles it means bath buckets (naturally).

Pigeonhole Wall Shelf from GLTC

Pigeonhole Wall Shelf from GLTC

It has four little pigeonhole shelves (I guess the clue is in the name) that are nice and deep and the perfect size for shampoos, ear-buds, talc and all your toothbrushing paraphernalia.

And as it’s finished in pristine white, it will fit in nicely in most bathrooms.

Pigeonhole Wall Shelf from GLTC

Pigeonhole Wall Shelf from GLTC

But whilst, it is perfect for the bathroom, it’s also perfect storage for kids’ bedrooms.

Again, those little pigeonholes are just made for kids’ books and their various other treasures.

It’s surprising how much you can stuff into a relatively small space.

The Pigeonhole Wall Shelf was designed with kids in mind.

Pigeonhole Wall Shelf from GLTC

Pigeonhole Wall Shelf from GLTC

Pigeonhole Wall Shelf from GLTC

The boys love the little hooks especially.

I mean, every dinosaur needs somewhere to hang up his costume up, right?

And I like the fact that it’s a neat place to pop all the tiny books that we seem to have accumulated. They don’t fit so well in to the larger book case in the boys’ room, but the Pigeonhole Wall Shelf  is perfect.

Pigeonhole Wall Shelf from GLTC

Pigeonhole Wall Shelf from GLTC

So you could be totally forgiven for thinking that this is where the little shelf ended up.

But no.

This versatile little unit is currently residing in our hall.

Although, I use the term ‘hall’ very loosely.

In our little cottage, the room off the front door is approximately 2 foot square. More like a vestibule than a hallway, but hey. Beggars can’t be choosers.

And how much time do you spend hanging out in the hall anyway??

Because it’s such a small space, traditional coat hooks just didn’t work. They ended up being swamped in a mountain of coats, bags, hats and scarves; which sometimes made opening the door quite tricky.

And there literally isn’t enough floor space for a person and a floor-standing storage unit.

But the wall-mounted pigeonhole shelf is perfect.

The perfect solution for a small hallway.

It’s shallow enough to sit on the wall without getting in the way of the front door and it has just enough storage for all the essentials.

Scarves and hats — plus keys, phones, mail and other odds-and-sods — are right at home in the little pigeonholes, whilst coats and bags take up residence on the hooks.

To say I’m pleased would be an understatement.

Instead of opening the front door to be greeted by a tangled and unsightly forest of coats, the door now opens up to reveal a neat and stylish little room.

So you see, I really wasn’t exaggerating when I said that the GLTC Pigeonhole Wall Shelf is the most versatile shelf in the world.

And now you’ll have that Prince song in your head for the rest of the day too.

You’re welcome.

This fabulous little shelf usually retails at £80 but it’s currently on offer at a bargainous £32! Hurry, hurry, hurry!! This is one you won’t want to miss out on.

I am proud to be a GLTC testing team member but all thoughts, words and images, as ever, are entirely my own. 

The GLTC Fix It Workbench | {Siblings November}

Recently, as part of their Great Little Trading Testing Team duties (literally the BEST job ever!) my little man-cubs were asked to try out the GLTC Fix It Workbench.

A cool bit of kit for handy little boys and girls; especially ones like mine who regularly see their daddy using a big grown up version.

The workbench is made of chunky wooden pieces, that easily fix together. It took around 20 minutes to assemble. You don’t need to be a structural engineer — or have a degree in joinery — to put it together either.

Nice and simple!

That said, if you’re buying it as a gift, I’d suggest constructing it the night before, so your budding Handy Andy/Andrea doesn’t have to wait whilst it’s constructed. It’s much more impactful for little people to see the item, made up and ready to use.

Apologies in advance for the rubbish quality of my pictures. I decided to take photos on the darkest November day and no amount of brightening would take the grain out of them unfortunately.

The GLTC Fix It Workbench

the GLTC Fix It Workbench
The GLTC Fix It Workbench in all it’s glory!
the GLTC Fix It Workbench
Cosmo-Bear — more like daddy every day.

It took all of 2 seconds for the boys to get stuck in and start emulating what they’ve seen their daddy do.

Over the last few months they’ve watched him in full DIY mode, as he’s taken on the arduous task of building my she-shed from the ground up.

His work-bench has had an absolute hammering — literally — as it’s been in use almost every weekend since the year began.

The GLTC Fix It Workbench is slightly more fancy than daddy’s. There are lots of sweet little touches — a clock and a mini chalkboard to-do list — plus all the tools a budding carpenter could possibly need.

the GLTC Fix It Workbench
Mini chalkboard — to do list.
Tools of the trade.
the GLTC Fix It Workbench

Everything is just the right size for little hands too.

A mini spanner, screw driver, hammer, saw and set-square are all included. Plus nuts, bolts and other bits and pieces for busy little people to get creative with.

Some of the pieces reminded me of Meccano but on a much bigger, chunkier, scale.

the GLTC Fix It Workbench
The perfect sized tools for little hands.
the GLTC Fix It Workbench
Nuts and bolts.

One negative is that it’s NOISY!!!

There has been a LOT of very important construction work happening since the boys have been testing the workbench out. And with that comes noise.

Mucho banging and crashing.

That said, it’s so good for promoting imaginative play that the noise, oddly, has given me hours of peace and quiet, as they’ve both been fully occupied.

One thing to bear in mind though — if you’re planning to buy this for twins (or for siblings) to share — I’d recommend buying the Fix It Tool set too. I think we will probably invest in this as there have been a few arguments over who has the hammer or the screw driver.

This additional set comes with it’s very own wooden tool box and contains a duplicate range of the tools that come with the GLTC Fix It Workbench.

For a peaceful life, I’d definitely suggest that it’s worth investing in, if you have two or more children who’ll be playing with the workbench at the same time.

the GLTC Fix It Workbench
Many hands make light work — and LOTS of noise!
the GLTC Fix It Workbench
Bertie in full Bob-The-Builder mode.

I’m such a big fan of wooden toys.

So much more tactile — and better looking — than plastic. This is the kind of toy that you really don’t mind giving house-room to, because it’s so charming.

The workbench has given the boys endless hours of amusement. And, unlike last month when it was tantrum central, peace has reined.

They’ve been getting on so well and playing so nicely together. Although there’s definitely been another shift in their dynamic.

It used to be clear that Cosmo was the most dominant of the two; possibly because he’s always done everything first maybe? I don’t know.

But recently Bertie has been ruling over his younger brother (by a minute) with a rod of iron. I sometimes feel as though Cosmo is getting a raw deal; it must be so frustrating to have someone constantly bossing you or muscling in on your game.

That said, it wasn’t too long ago that the boot was on the other foot. And I think this is probably true for any sibling relationship. The equilibrium shifts and the balance of power moves from one to the other, with lightening speed.

But anyway. The little GLTC Fix It Workbench has been a great bonding tool. I’ve been watching them at play; learning to share and work together. And that — like the workbench — is a wonderful thing indeed.

Long may it continue.

the GLTC Fix It Workbench
Little siblings in November

I am proud to be a GLTC testing team member this year but all thoughts, words and images, as ever, are entirely my own.

Wallpaper #1 | How to make a circle fan decoration


When my sister and her husband sold their house recently they couldn’t find anywhere they wanted to buy and — as a stop gap —  they rented a house until one they liked came on the market.

Funnily enough, we did exactly the same when we moved to our village and it reminded me how tricky landlords can be sometimes — and how annoying it is when you’re not allowed to change the wall colour or do very much to make the property really feel like home.

So I’ve been having a little think about the things that we can do, to make a rented house feel homely and completely change the look and feel of a room with wallpaper.

Without actually sticking it to the walls.

This first little tutorial shows how to make a circle fan.

I’ve always used shop bought versions of these — to style my products when I photograph them — but when I was looking at one recently, it struck me how easy they’d be to make and how cool they’d look in various patterns, rather than the block colours that they’re usually sold in.

So here we go — super simple and they look a million dollars!

How to make a circle fan

You will need:
Scissors or scalpel (whichever you prefer to use)
Ruler and pencil


1 — Choose your wallpaper! You can use offcuts for smaller circles or for a larger circle you’ll need a decent length.

I used some gorgeous paper from the Great Little Trading Company — Sorbet Spot and Sprinkles — perfect for a little girl’s bedroom. Or a big girl’s she-shed ;)


2 — Cut your paper to size.

I used 4 rectangles of wallpaper per circle. One to make up each quarter of my circle fan.

There’s no hard and fast rule with regards to size but, for mine, I worked to the rule of thumb that each fold was 2cm apart — and I had 13 folds in each quarter segment of my circle fan — so the width of each piece of paper was 26cm.

The height of the paper determines the radius of your circle; more height = a larger circle!


3 — Mark out the 2cm sections along the length of each piece of paper.

If you wanted your folds to be further apart — or closer together — you can change this measurement to suit.


4—  Begin to fold the paper— concertina style — every 2cm.

Fold the paper backwards and forwards until you reach the end of the rectangle.

Then do the same with the other three pieces, until you have 4 concertinaed rectangles of paper, of equal size.


5—  Next stick the four sections together.

Glue down the right hand edge of your first piece of paper and attach it to the left hand edge of one of the other pieces. Repeat this process until all 4 pieces are glued together, to form one long concertinaed rectangle.

Once you have done this, fold along the lines and pinch one end to create a little fan shape.


6—  Pinching down on the one end very tightly, use the nozzle of the glue gun  to spread glue on to the end of the paper that you’re holding.

Be really careful when you do this, as the glue is very hot!!




7—  Keep hold of the paper, pinching down tightly for a couple of minutes, until the glue has cooled down. After a little while, you’ll be able to touch it with your fingertip — it should feel tacky (a little like blue tack) — then you can pat it down to form a bond over the end of the paper.

Now when you let go of the paper, you’ll see that the circle fan has formed and is nearly complete!


8—  To finish off you can use one of two ways, depending on where you’re planning on displaying your circle fan decorations.

If you’re using your circle fans at home you can stick the two edges together with the glue-gun, for a more permanent fix.

But if you’re making them to transport to a wedding or party, for example, you can simply use a paperclip to keep the two sides together. This will ensure that they don’t get bashed or damaged — especially if you’ve made some really large ones.

You can’t see the join from a distance and it means that you can keep them nice and compact, when you’re transporting them.

Simply pinch the two edges together and secure with a paperclip; I used white ones so they’d blend in with the paper.



The paperclip also acts as a hanger for the string, so even if you’ve glued your paper circle fan, use one to hang it up.

Simply thread the string through the paperclip, to the length you’d like the circle fan to hang and that’s it!

Bob’s your uncle.





I’ve also made a quick little film tutorial as I sometimes find that it’s easier to watch someone making something rather than reading written instructions.

Pop along and have a look and please give it a thumbs up if you like it :)

I am proud to be a GLTC testing team member this year and was given this lovely wallpaper to create my circle fan tutorial — pop along and have a look at their lovely ranges for even more ideas and inspiration for the home.

Home Etc #68

Happy Wednesday everyone! Home Etc day!

Home Etc is a weekly linky club for bloggers, hosted by myself and my good friend Jess to share any posts that include interiors, garden, DIY, crafting or up-cycling.

It’s a fabulous showcase for interiors and over the weeks we’ve had some fabulous and inspiring content.

Home Etc Favourites

A particular favourite from last week was from Sarah at Day Dot Diaries.

We’ve been really enjoying her nursery inspiration posts over the last few weeks but last week we were treated to an upcycling project from her unborn baby’s actual nursery!

home etc

I love how the arrow hooks echo the print on the fabric — such a clever idea to upcycle the little hooks and turn them into a shelf! Well done Gav ;)

Another Home Etc fave came from lovely Emily who writes the blog My Petit Canard. Like me, Emily is on the Great Little Trading Co testing team and has the good fortune of roadtesting some of their amazing products.

She shared her absolutely gorgeous workspace.

home etc

home etc

SO clean and pristine isn’t it?  I’m totally in love with it all!

It’s a million miles away from my beaten up old desk — I can imagine Emily feels lovely and calm whenever she sits down to work.

And it just goes to show, once again, that Great Little Trading products are suited to more than just kids bedrooms (similar to the pegboard I styled a few months ago).

Congratulations Emily and Sarah! Both your names are in the hat to win this month’s HomeSense voucher.

Thanks so much everyone, for linking in. Jess and I really, really enjoy reading all your posts!

All we ask is that you follow these 3 little rules:

1) Please include our lovely #HomeEtc badge at the bottom of your post.

The Twinkle Diaries


2) You may link up to two posts — new or old (sometimes the old posts are forgotten about, so please dust them down and show them off; we’d love to read them!)  — but no more than two posts each week please.

3) Please be kind enough to comment on your HOSTS’ POSTS which will always be the first two entries in the link up — plus a couple of others. Blog hops only work if you’re as generous with your comments as you are at sharing your posts.

Be sure to tweet —@twinklediaries or @soot1978 — with the url to your post, using the hashtag #HomeEtc and Jess or I will always retweet (sometimes both of us if you’re lucky)! ;)

Finally, Jess and I will pick one favourite post each week then at the end of the month we’ll choose an overall winner. This lucky blogger will receive a £20 voucher from our fabulous sponsor!


Psst… as well as HomeSense the voucher can also be spent in TK Maxx!

Thanks so much for linking up all your lovely posts. We look forward to reading more of the same this week! The linky portal is open until midday on Friday.

#HomeEtc the hashtag

Finally, Jess and I are over the moon to see so many of you lovelies using the #HomeEtc hashtag on Instagram! 

If you are on Instagram and post anything home, interiors, DIY, craft & garden related please do use the #HomeEtc hashtag. I’ve found some really fab IG feeds to follow over the last few weeks, through folk tagging us in! :)

Lots of love,

Caro & Jess x

Have bed will travel… GLTC Bed in a Bag Review

I’ve mentioned (a couple of times) that, this year, the boys and I are proud ambassadors for the Great Little Trading Company.

They’re a company that I love and we’re very lucky to be on their testing team for 2016, which basically means we get to try out and road test all sorts of amazing things.

So far we’ve tested the fabulous star book ledges ; now a firm favourite with the boys as it means they have somewhere to store their sippy cups and books at bedtime.

And even more of a favourite with their daddy and me, as it means the floor by the side of the cots is free from books which — I can tell you from bitter experience — are very slippy and treacherous to walk on (particularly in socks and at night, when checking on your children).


I was also lucky enough to be sent a fantastic peg-board. Although ‘peg-board’ doesn’t really do it justice.

This nifty bit of kit is a pen-holder, chalkboard, keeper of notes and life in general.

We were asked to style it — in any way we saw fit — so I turned mine into a little dressing table assistant.

The perfect place for all my jewellery and things that normally clutter up the top of my chest of drawers, this little beauty is so versatile you could use it for anything at all!


But the thing I was most excited to road-test was not something to style or make the house look pretty.

It was something that we’d been searching for — for a while — and when I saw that GLTC sold a version, I was desperate to test it out.

The ‘thing’ in question is a Bed in a Bag.

Since the boys were born, we’ve never had a proper travel cot. I hate how big and clumsy traditional travel cots are and decided to look for an alternative. So after a lot of research, we bought a couple of Koodi pop up travel tent cots.

Literally one (or in our case two) of the BEST things we’ve bought for our babies. They have lasted really well and — as we stay away from home fairly regularly with the boys — they’ve had a lot of use.

They are recommended for children of up to approximately 18 months of age but the twins have slept in them until they were almost 3. By which time, there didn’t seem much point in buying a traditional travel cot (even though my Twinkles still don’t have the sides off their actual cots yet).

GLTC’s Bed In A Bag seemed like the perfect successor.

What is the Bed in a Bag?

It’s a cushioned mattress — super soft and comfy — that is essentially formed from five pillows. It doesn’t need to be inflated and rolls up into it’s own matching bag, for storage.

I didn’t want to write about the Bed in a Bag until we’d properly put it through it’s paces.

In true ‘testing team’ style, I wanted to really, really make sure I could give an honest and full reveiw of our experience using this product.

Initially I was nervous that the boys wouldn’t like sleeping in a bed with no sides (especially for the first time) but, actually, it’s been a fantastic introduction to this new experience for them.

The Bed in a Bags are pretty big. This could be seen as a negative, depending on the size of car you drive. On the journeys when we have a car full of luggage — and the double buggy — we put them in the foot-wells. Not ideal but it works.

We can cope with them at the size they are.

Plus they don’t need inflating and — once we get to our destination — we can literally roll them out and use them. No worrying that we’ve left the footpump at home or — if we’re staying somewhere that doesn’t have electricity — we can’t plug it into the mains to inflate the kids’ beds.

Bed in a Bag Review by The Twinkle Diaries
You can get a better idea of scale, seeing the Bed in a Bag next to the car
Bed in a Bag Review by The Twinkle Diaries
The Bed in a Bag, next to my little assistant!

I love the fact that they stash away in their own bag.

That said, my boy and I both think that the bags could be smaller. We can roll the mattress up fairly thin but as soon as we put it into the bag, the whole thing expands to fit the space. The Bed in a Bag, as a whole, could definitely be rolled up — and contained — a little smaller than the current bag design allows — maybe velcro tabs to keep the rolled mattress in place.

The other thing that could be improved is the fastening on the bag.

The cord to fasten the bag can be pulled tight and knotted but there isn’t a toggle — or fastening — to secure it. It could really do with a little cord lock (I’ve actually spotted some of these online and plan to upgrade ours myself).

Trying to hold the cord tight — and tie a knot — is tricky.

Plus, through constantly knotting and unknotting the cord to open and close the bag, the cord has begun to fray on one of the bags. I think a little cord toggle will make life much easier.

Bed in a Bag Review by The Twinkle Diaries
The Bed in a Bag
The fastening
Looking a little bit worse for wear

Once unrolled the beds are fairly large. They’re also lovely and squashy — and pretty deep — which means they’re comfy to lie on (even for me).

We can roll them out them anywhere that there is space, which means they’re perfect for allowing us to stay in places that don’t have dedicated beds for the boys.

When the twins were babies, we took their pop-up-tents everywhere and sleeping arrangements were never a problem, when we were away from home.

If there wasn’t a spare room to put them in, we all stayed together in one room and — as long as there’s enough available floor space — the Bed in a Bags allow us to do the same thing now.

Both sets of grandparents don’t currently have twin beds for Bertie and Cosmo, so the new travel-beds means that we’re able to continue to  stay overnight, with no worries about where we’re all going to sleep.

Lovely and deep

Bed in a Bag Review by The Twinkle Diaries

Bed in a Bag Review by The Twinkle Diaries
My sleeping beauty

Another thing that I love is that they’re still useful when we’re not travelling!

They can be stashed away in a cupboard and when we have friends to stay, we don’t have to worry about lack of beds for small (or even large) people; the Bed in a Bags can be unrolled to create makeshift sleeping accommodation.

They are the perfect solution if you have lots of guests staying but not enough beds.

Bed in a Bag Review by The Twinkle Diaries

Bed in a Bag Review by The Twinkle Diaries
Sleepy baby

If you buy them at the full price of £110, I guess you could say that the GLTC Bed in a Bag is expensive but personally I think that they’re worth every penny.

I’ve seen cheaper alternatives but they’re not as deep or comfy to lie on.

And I’ve seen equivalent versions that are geared up to little children; they’re much, much shorter though (you wouldn’t be able to comfortably lie a tween — or teen — along the length).

And, to be honest, what self-respecting child wants a Peppa Pig or Thomas The Tank Engine themed bed, past the age of about 4?

These beds will continue to be useful long after the twins leave nursery and go to school.

And as the years go by — when my boys have sleepovers with their friends (both away and at home) — the Bed in a Bags will be used time and time again.

They’ll be taken to festivals, on camping trips and weekends away.

And if you consider how many times they’ll be used, over their lifetime, the cost — per use — is just pennies. What initially seems like an expensive purchase, suddenly feels like a very worthwhile investment.

Bed in a Bag Review by The Twinkle Diaries

So — to round up my review — do I think these are worth the money?


Would I recommend them?


They have been a godsend already.

As the boys aren’t in proper beds yet, the mere thought of buying traditional travel-cots to replace their pop-up tents — at this late stage — felt like such a false economy. OK — so they could probably sleep in a standard bed, with a bed-guard, but what happens when the place you’re staying doesn’t have a spare bed (or two)?

The Bed in a Bags have meant that our family of four can stay away from home, in all sorts of places, without the need for separate beds for the children.

They are, quite simply, brilliant.

I am proud to be a GLTC testing team member this year but all thoughts, words and images, as ever, are entirely my own.