Have a Free Day Out in Northern Ireland on Saturday 7th March

National Trust is opening its spectacular houses, gardens and industrial heritage sites across Northern Ireland for free on Saturday 7 March.

With spring on its way, the free day is an opportunity to explore the great outdoors, step back in time at an historic mansion or experience industrial heritage in action.

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Here’s a taster of where to go for your FREE day out:

In County Fermanagh there is something for all the family to enjoy at Florence Court, set against a beautiful backdrop of mountains and forests. You can also savour the stately grandeur of Castle Coole with its Lake Walk carpeted in stunning snowdrops. Or escape to the breathtaking Crom demesne where BBC showBlandings was filmed. (Note - National Trust places in Fermanagh will also be open for free on Sunday 8 March.)  

Described as one of the best gardens in the world, the impressive garden at Mount Stewart in County Down makes the most of the unique microclimate of the ArdsPeninsula – did you know it is the sunniest place in Ireland? Return in April and see the Londonderry family home restored to its former glory after a three year £7 million restoration programme.
Also on the shores of Strangford Lough is Castle Ward, with miles of walking and cycling trails and stunning views. Nearby, Rowallane Garden in Saintfield is a captivating natural garden with a dazzling variety of rare trees and shrubs fromacross the globe.

Along the North Coast follow in the footsteps of giants at the Giant’s Causeway, visit the stunning landscape of Downhill Demesne or stroll along Portstewart Strand and White Park Bay. Note: Carrick-a-Rede is normal admission on 7 March.

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In Mid Ulster a tour of The Argory reveals this Neo-classical masterpiece has unchanged since 1900. You can also visit the charming 17th-century Ardress farmhouse or Springhill in Moneymore which has a beguiling spirit that captures the heart of every visitor.  

For a flavour of our Industrial Heritage visit the unique Patterson’s Spade Mill inTemplepatrick or Wellbrook Beetling Mill near Cookstown. Note: Gray’s Printing Press is closed.

For more information on the work of the National Trust, how to become a member and where to visit see www.nationaltrust.org.uk

The Marks & Spencer Valentine's £20 Meal is Back and the Best Ever!

The Marks and Spencer Valentine's meal is back. For £20 you get a starter, main course, side, dessert, box of chocolates and your choice of cava, wine or soft drink. The choice is tricky, with lots of amazing tastes to pick from.  Here's what I picked.

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Some of the other choices. 

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Marks and Spencer can be your one stop Valentine's shop. They have dozens of bouquets available, including a hundred stem bunch that I seriously wanted for myself. 

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And what goes with roses better than chocolates?  How about Gummy Worms?

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Lots of other gift choices in store. 

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Last, but not least, some cards.  Go forth and make someone's Valentine's day!

Free and Funny Ikea Valentine's Cards

Ikea are feeling romantic, and wooed me today by sending me this brilliant spotty duvet cover. It's very me, don't you think? The Stenklöver quilt cover came along with it's own funny, little Ikea themed Valentine's card.  Print your own at www.ikea.co.uk/valentine

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There are actually some great present ideas to be found in Ikea. I love these Art Deco perfume bottles

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Or you could bake your way into the heart of your significant other. 

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Extreme Pancake Tossing at The Giant's Causeway.

The delicious wonder of Pancake Day is only one week away. Whether you toss them, flip them or just slide them it’s nearly time to get out the frying pan and indulge in the centuries-old tradition of pancake making.

 

To make pancakes all you need is plain flour, salt, milk and eggs and the ideal National Trust location to toss them!

 

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Who Wants a Sneaky Peek Through the Keyhole of My New House?

A couple of weeks ago my son and I moved into a lovely, freshly painted house, and we have made it into our home. Here, have a little look around. 

Recognise the wallpaper from a few blog posts ago? 

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Buy your Ikea outdoor door mat to match your nail polish, obviously. 

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Framed Ladybird Book covers under the stairs. 

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Every home needs a Castle Grayskull. 

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Birds I built myself from a couple of kits I picked up at Dunluce Castle two years ago. 

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Finally have space for this gorgeous Ikea table. 

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Mrs Meow has another week of being stuck in doors before she is allowed to go explore. Look at that little face. 

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Card from my son's friend Connie. 

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Hand decorated cupboard as a lovely leaving present from my old landlady. 

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What's instore this February at Lidl?

Part of the fun of Lidl is never knowing what they'll be selling that week. Yesterday my son was in luck as this super soft, cosy, hooded dressing gown was in our local store for £7.99, with some cool Star Wars slippers for £3.99.

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There are also some pretty smart trainers for the coming spring months. 

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I rave on Twitter about Lidl's fruit and veg. The quality and prices are amazing compared to the main supermarkets. I find if I buy fresh vegetables from another supermarket, if I don't use them that day or the day after, they go soft or gross really quickly. Lidl fruit and veg is significantly cheaper, and LASTS. I challenge you to do your fresh produce shop there this week, and see the difference for yourself. Especially if you love grapes. Mix and match two punnets for £2; in other supermarkets you wouldn't even get one punnet for £2. 

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I also love Lidl for my smoked salmon fix. You get a lot of salmon for your £. These packs with mustard and dill dressing are just £2.29. The little pots of various antipasti are £1.79.  Lazy-mummy pregrated cheese is so handy and it's £1.99 for this big bag.

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Lidl has a lot in for Valentines. I don't know if I'll get any Valentines this year yet, so I bought myself my own chocolates! Just £2.99 and very much like Thorton's Continental Selection. 

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The Heat, Eat & Enjoy range has been expanded. I picked up the honey roast root veg (£1.79) and the honey mustard ham (£3.99) for a delicious and easy midweek meal. 

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Finally, sometimes you just can't beat a dinner of chicken nuggets, chips and beans. Lidl nuggets are just £1.99 for a family pack. 

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Retro & Vintage Wallpapers, Get the Real Deal at WallpaperFromThe70s.com

On the 1st February, my son and I move into our new, little house. A blank canvas to make into our home. We are very excited and can't wait to add all our own special touches to the various rooms. At the moment the walls have all been given a fresh, clean splash of cream paint. I have so many vintage art prints, and wonderous pieces of mid-century furniture, that picking a fussy wallpaper or bright wall colour isn't really necessary. That was what I thought anyway, until I stumbled upon Wallpaper From the 70s online store this afternoon.

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This store is the real deal. Replica prints of genuine 70s' designs, as well as modern takes on retro wallpaper themes. The store is more like a gorgeous pattern museum than a plain vintage wallpaper shop, lovingly curated by designers who really know their stuff.

Did you know you can buy Versace wallpaper? Well you can! As well as other designer brands such as NLXL and Studio Ditte. The papers are divided into sections for ease of choice, floral, baroque, kids, novelty, glamorous, romantic, geometric and my favourite section We Love the 70s. Lots of homely, warm brown and oranges.

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With hundreds of amazing prints to choose from, how do you know which is right for your space? Well, the site has a very handy feature for trying out the patterns in situ at home. You can print an exact replica sized sample right from the website, to get a feel for the size of the pattern and colour in your own room. Of course you can also request a section of paper as a real sample, but the print option is excellent if you quickly want to compare several papers before placing an order.

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So you've picked your favourite wallpaper, next you'll need to know how many rolls to purchase. You don't want to run out of your chosen paper with one panel to go. Again Wallpaper From the 70s provides the tools to make this easy as pie. Simply measure your feature wall, or find out the area of the walls you are covering and input that to their site. The clever tool will calculate how many rolls you need to buy, most importantly it takes into consideration the particular pattern of your chosen paper, and how it will line up with itself, so you won't fall short of coverage when you take into account how the paper will sit pattern wise.

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So, which wallpaper have I chosen for the feature wall with the fireplace in our new home? Well, you'll just have to wait and see. All will be revealed in my blog posts over the coming month. I'll let you all have a good nosy! In the meantime here is a selection of some of the papers I loved from the Wallpapers From the 70s site, which do you love?

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