Let’s go fly a kite!

It was a few years since I’d been to Aberystwyth before we launched our fab lowest unique bid competition to win a holiday to nearby New Quay. I had a quick day out in New Quay and came back via Aber to take some photos for work recently, and it really has given me a taste for going back. In particular, I love the Red Kite centre, it’s so fascinating to see these amazing birds with such a stunning backdrop as the lake. The last time we went to see the red kites, I was on the back of hubby’s motorbike. Oh how times have changed! I’m dying to get over there again now though, Libby would love seeing the birds and it would be great to take the dogs for a walk somewhere so beautiful. As you can see, we’re mainly confined to muddy fields or roads at the moment on our walks. 

I’ve just written a blog post for work about Aberystwyth, so here is an extract from it about the fantastic red kite centre in case you are considering going yourself. I would personally wait for the weather to cheer up a bit, although it is open all year round and even on a dry winter’s day, it would be a glorious place for a walk. 

Bwlch Nant yr Arian Forest

The stunning and distinctive bird of prey the red kite is still a relatively rare sight in the UK. However, their numbers are increasing thanks to places like Bwlch Nant yr Arian. 

In 1999, the area became a red kite feeding station with the aim of helping the birds to thrive in the area. Over 150 kites gather every day of the year at 2pm in winter and 3pm in summer for their daily feed. The public can have a great view of the birds feeding from the opposite side of the picturesque lake or from a bird hive that overlooks the feeding area. Whilst many visitors attend purely to look at these majestic birds, there are lots of other activities on offer at Bwlch Nant yr Arian. There is a café where you can relax and enjoy the view and a play area and educational activities for children. If you are feeling a bit more adventurous, other activities on offer include horse riding, mountain biking and orienteering. There are also walks to suit all abilities and fitness levels.

An ethical business

Since starting to run a brand new website, I know that people are keen to find out what it’s all about. Our ethics and ethos are really important to us as a company, so I’d love to tell you a bit more about them. 

Our website is a really different and exciting travel site because all holidays are available for people to win rather than buy! The concept is based on lowest unique bid auctions. The way it works is that people pay around £1 (it always works out less because of bid package offers) to bid on an auction for a holiday. Instead of the highest bid winning the holiday, it is the lowest unique bid that wins, i.e. the lowest bid that only one person places.

Before rebranding our website, we gave away two short breaks in Paris, a two week holiday to Phuket, Thailand and a two week holiday to Whistler, Canada. All winners were delighted with their holidays and couldn’t believe they’d won them for a matter of pence! We decided to rebrand our website with a new name and format to allow us to do more to support other small businesses and charities. We now run two types of mini-auctions.
The first type of mini-auctions are those in aid of designated charities. All money raised in our charity auctions goes directly to the charity that the auction supports. At the moment, we have two tickets for the Tottenham v Dnipro match on Thursday to give away. This auction closes at 10pm tomorrow (Wednesday 26th February) and all money raised will go to the amazing Street Child World Cup charity. We are also running an ongoing charity auction in which we will take 50 bids. You can win a fabulous recipe book and all money raised goes to the incredibly worthy Maternity Worldwide charity.
In our other mini-auctions, people can win small items related to holidays, all sourced from small British businesses and entrepreneurs. We are starting these auctions with two sets of luggage tags and matching passport covers. These were made by Meebee Designs, a fabulous British entrepreneur who makes her items out of reclaimed materials. They are handmade and exclusive. We pay full price for the items and we will take around 50 bids on them so that the odds of winning are amazing and we make enough to cover our costs for purchasing the items, plus hopefully a little bit towards the running costs of the site.
Regarding the holidays, we have two running simultaneously. Our first two holidays are based on the vacation vs staycation theme. This should be really interesting because UK holidays seem to be so popular at the moment and it will be interesting to see whether there is more interest in the vacation or the staycation. The vacation is to the South of France, the staycation is to New Quay in West Wales. Both are fantastic destinations and the accommodation is second to none. Again, we have paid full price for the holidays from British business people and we are aiming to cover our costs and take a small amount of profit to cover our website running costs. This will allow us to continue to host charity auctions without charging the charities anything.

Please do pay us a visit, you can support some amazing charities and win fantastic prizes. If you are a small business or charity who we might be able to help, we’d also love to hear from you.

Street Child World Cup

Today, I was approached in a work capacity and asked to support a truly amazing charity called the Street Child World Cup. Someone has generously donated two tickets to the Tottenham v Dnipro Europa League match on Thursday night (27th February). That’s why we’re running a really quick auction to give away the tickets, ending at 10 pm on Wednesday night (28th February).

I’m sure that Tottenham and the exciting Europa League fixture don’t need any introduction, so instead I’m going to tell you a bit about the amazing charity that we are raising money for.

Across the world, millions of children live and work on the streets. In 2014, this is nothing short of disgraceful. The Street Child World Cup is a global movement for street children to receive the protection and opportunities that all children are entitled to. March 10th 2014 will see the start of a 10 day tournament where street children from all over the world will represent their peers who live and work on the streets.

The aim is to give these children a voice through numerous projects that focus mainly on art and football. The Street Child World Cup itself is the culmination of work over the past four years and will raise awareness of the plight of the children. In this day and age, it is a travesty that a charity has to raise awareness for children who are denied such basic rights as a roof over their heads.

Whilst we appreciate that not everyone can drop everything and travel to White Hart lane on Thursday, if you are able to go to the match, this is a great opportunity to win tickets for next to nothing. It is also a fantastic opportunity to support an amazing charity that is really deserving of our support.

Wine wine wine

As work is somewhat manic at the moment (along with the slight inconveniences associated with a chatty toddler and being 7 months pregnant), I don’t manage to blog as much as I want to. These days though, I do write a daily post on my work blog and today’s post is about a subject that I thought my blog readers might also enjoy. So here is a brief guide to wine from the gorgeous Languedoc Roussillon region of the South of France. 

The Languedoc-Roussillon region is the most prolific wine-growing area in France. With the whole of France being so famous for its wine, this really is some accolade. It is not surprising then that there is a vast array of wine available of various different varieties. You can also enjoy a vineyard tour and tasting experience in the region to allow you to find out a bit more about the local grapes. The most important grapes in the region tend to be Lladoner Pelut, Cinsault, Grenache and Mourvedre. 

Wine tasting

The French are incredibly proud of their wine and rightly so, and no-one more so than the producers themselves. That’s why a winery tour and wine tasting will be such a fascinating experience in the Languedoc-Roussillon region. They love to tell you all about the wines, where they come from, how they are made and why they are some of the best in the world. Just half an hour’s drive from Ille-sur-Tet, you can visit the Domaine Treloar Vineyard and Winery. Take a tour of the vineyard and wine cave with an explanation of the winemaking process. Then move on to sample some of the wines and enjoy a home-cooked lunch. This is a small, friendly and family run wine producing estate so be sure to book a tour before attending to ensure that they can accommodate you. 

Cotes du Rousillon Villages

Just South of Corbieres lies the Agly river. Alongside the river there are just 25 villages that have been granted the Cotes du Rousillon Villages wine label. The label only produces red wine. The wines are quite strong, spicy and medium bodied. 

Grand Rousillon

The Grand Rousillon label applies to sweet wine from 89 of the region’s villages. Both sweet red and sweet white wine is produced under this label. The main grapes used for the sweet white wine are Muscat blanc, Muscat romain and Grenache. Grenache is also used for the slightly more unusual sweet red wine, along with Carignan, Cinsault and Lista. 

Crémant de Limoux

In the Roussillon region, crémant is produced following the same method as that followed when producing champagne. This includes a second fermentation process within the bottle that captures the carbon dioxide that produces the sparkling effect. The landscape and climate are similar to that in Chateauneuf du Pape so as can be expected, the sparkling white wine produced is of excellent quality although much cheaper to purchase than that produced in the Champagne region of France. 

Whatever wine you enjoy, if you win a holiday to this amazing wine producing region of France, you won’t be disappointed. It is a great idea to keep a note of your favourites throughout your holiday because despite their excellent quality, Languedoc-Roussillon region wines are relatively inexpensive so they make great souvenirs to take home. 

Everyone’s a winner!

I’ve been really quiet on the blogging front lately, work has been absolutely manic. I’m pleased to say that this has been with good reason though, because as of yesterday our new website went live! 

Having been involved in a small business for over a year now, I’ve become acutely aware of how much hard work goes into it. The one thing we all have in common in British small businesses is the ability to support each other. That’s why when we relaunched our website, we were really keen to include some mini auctions for prizes sourced from British small businesses. We pay full price for the items and then take enough bids to cover our costs and make a small profit towards the running of our website. Our first two mini auctions are for gorgeous luggage accessories from Meebee Designs. This fabulous designer uses recycled materials where possible and creates unique, one off items that she makes by hand. Here is one of the beautiful sets she has made exclusively for us. 

We are also running charity auctions. The profits from these go directly to the charity and the first one is for the amazing Maternity Worldwide who also receive ten percent of our overall profits. In our first charity auction, you can win a fabulous recipe book and support a really worthwhile charity. 

Of course, the main event is still the fact that you could win an amazing holiday. This time though, you have a choice! Will you go for a week in the sunshine in the beautiful South of France? 

Or would you prefer to stay in the UK and spend a week in a beautiful house right on the coast of New Quay in West Wales? 

Please do head over to our website and have a look, I would really appreciate your support in our new venture. You never know, you might even win an amazing prize!

Why you’re my inspiration

As a mother to a toddler with another baby on the way, it may seem a little odd that I named my blog not after my beloved children, but after my dogs. 

The Pet Health Info website recently published a study by the National Office of Animal Health that revealed that 90% of pet owners say that owning a pet makes us happier. Personally, I can only wonder what on earth the other 10% of pet owners were thinking. When I was growing up, we always had a cat. We unfortunately lost our own cat last year but we will definitely be getting another one soon – a rescue cat of course. As for Libby, she is lucky enough to be growing up around our two dogs, Pluto and Soxa. The benefits to her of growing up around dogs are just immeasurable. As you can see, Libby was much loved by the dogs right from birth… 

My gentle lurcher, Pluto is an incredibly soft, cuddly boy who loves fuss and attention. He can run like the wind and adores everyone in the family, especially our old staffie cross, Soxa. Pluto was rescued from a local animal shelter a few years ago. He had been found abandoned, starving, emaciated and frightened. He spent weeks cowering in the corner of a pen and had to have an operation to remove a piece of wood from his stomach, which it appeared that he had been hit with. He was also covered in scars and the shelter thought that he had been tied up and used as a bait dog for smaller dogs to attack. Understandably he is still frightened of other dogs and he is particularly protective of Libby, always watching her when we are out to make sure nobody hurts her, especially other dogs. Incredibly though, he has no other ill effects from his terrible treatment, which is a testament to his amazing temperament. 

Pluto and Soxa get along like a house on fire as you can see… 

Despite their love for each other though, they really are very different dogs. Pluto’s gentle approach to everything can be contrasted with Soxa’s bull in a china shop approach to life in general. She is a typical staffie who, whatever happens to her, just loves life. Soxa was also a rescue dog, but my husband rescued her as a tiny puppy. She had been abandoned when she was small enough to fit on his hand. Since then, there really hasn’t been a dull moment for Soxa. She is accident prone, over enthusiastic and full of energy despite being over 13 years old. She has been on many adventures and takes each one in her stride. Only a couple of years ago, Soxa entered the waggiest tail in Worcestershire competition at a local dog show. She was the only entrant who wasn’t a puppy and still took the first prize rosette paws down. 

Much as I hate to admit it, I know that both of our dogs are getting old now and we probably haven’t got that many years left with them. We make the most of them every day, Libby walks further than any other toddler I know because of the daily dog walks. I’m sure that this is why she eats and sleeps so well. There are so many benefits to children of growing up with pets that we will never be without one. I can also whole heartedly recommend rescue dogs to anyone, they have so much love to give and there is no danger of supporting the cruel puppy farm trade when you adopt a pet. 

This is an entry for the ‘I heart my pet 2014’ blogger competition. 

I hope you enjoyed reading my post, and if one person reads this and decides to adopt a shelter pet as a result, then my work here is done.