Book Review: My First Book About the Quran


BabyN' is really fond of reading books and although he can't really read the words himself as he's still little, he's able to recognize them through the imagery in the books and can pronounce them quite well. Nowadays, the Muslim authors and publishers are working hard to create print material targeting the Muslim children worldwide and I'm really glad to know about this initiative because that just makes things easier for mothers. 

I remember being younger, my grandmother taught me lots of things because we were in the same country then and it was also easier because I was living in a Muslim country, so seeing things being done the right way and listening to the Azaan/Adhan (call to prayer) was fantastic! I'm now living in a non-Muslim country which does make it a bit challenging to inculcate our values and traditions in my child but books and other print media especially toys, are definitely improving the scene.


We were recently sent My First Book About the Quran written by Sara Khan and illustrated by Ali Lodge, written for toddlers and young children. The title makes it quite apparent about what to expect in the book. The author has highlighted the important things the children need to be aware of, at this stage of their lives. I do read the book to BabyN' myself along with providing an explanation and referring to the pastel coloured illustrations and he recognizes most of the things and teachings, but there are still a few things that are new for him, and may take a bit of time to provide him a proper understanding. 



My First Book About the Quran talks about the oneness of Allah, and about the world and the things HE created, it has also talked about how we as Muslims should behave and the rules we must follow. I believe, this is an absolutely great start to introduce BabyN' to the Quran and it's teachings.

BabyN's favourite pages in the book are pages 9 & 10, the one which has animals on it. He is extremely fond of animals, as much that he picks up an animal from the toy section every time he's in a store! Another of his favourite page of the book is where it talks about taking care of our friends (page 13) as the image shows a few friends holding hands and are portrayed playing ringa ringa roses. As soon as he sees that, he holds my hand and makes me play with him. The author has highlighted some of the significant pillars of Islam such as the prayers, hajj, fasting and zakat. In the end, there are a few more points that have been mentioned but I'll wait for a few more month's time to read that out to BabyN' to ensure that he understands them well. 



I love the fact that the book has a hard cover and pages because the child can't tear the pages until and unless he uses the teeth to chew them. It's easy to wipe and has lovely pastel illustrations that serves the purpose well.  My First Book About the Quran selling for £4.99, can be purchased from Kube Publishing and if you sign up to their website, you can also avail a 10% discount on your first purchase.


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Staycation at the Mercure Bristol Grand Hotel - Bristol, UK

Mercure Bristol Grand Hotel

Bristol, a city in South West England straddling the River Avon, and popular for bridges, boats and balloons has a fascinating heritage and a history. My family and I decided to go there on a weekend getaway to get a change from the normal routine. Our first stop after reaching the city was the Bristol Zoo where we spent an amazing and thrilling time with some fun filled activities, after which we checked in to our hotel, Mercure Bristol Grand Hotel which had a prime location in the city.

The hotel has parking available right outside the building but we parked in Mercure's own secure and covered car park that costs £8.5 per night. Luckily, the car park was just adjacent to the hotel's main building so it was hardly a few steps walk until we reached inside the spacious and welcoming lounge and headed towards the reception. After an extremely smooth check-in, we took an elevator to our room which was on the 3rd floor of the building.

Mercure Bristol Grand Hotel

Mercure Bristol Grand Hotel

Mercure Bristol ensures that it provides all the important things to the guests so they had provided a hair dryer, iron with stand, toiletries, fresh clean linen, kettle and a tray with coffee/tea and a packet of scrumptious chocolate cookies. We have had a long day strolling around the Bristol Zoo and the Bristol town center during the day, and were a bit of out of steam so we just had some tea and after some rest, decided to go to the spa. 

Mercure Bristol Grand Hotel

Mercure Bristol Grand Hotel

Mercure Bristol Grand Hotel

Mercure Bristol Grand Hotel

BabyN' loves jumping and splashing in the pool, so going there before checking out was a must for us! The leisure centre at Mercure Grand not just had a huge pool, but a Jacuzzi (my favourite place to relax), a gym and spa too! After all the day's walk, I really felt like getting a massage, but had to skip it due to lack of time. The leisure center is located in another building adjacent to the hotel and is not connected, which I initially thought might be an issue, but it wasn't a problem at all. Inside, they provide lockers and towels and also plastic bags in case you need them but make sure to take your own toiletries if you require them. They also have hair dryers, which are always handy to dry the hair after a swim! After spending almost an hour relaxing and having fun in the pool, we got changed and headed to The Keeper's restaurant at the Mercure Grand where our reservation had already been made. I was already quiet hungry by that time, so we settled in and decided on the food. 

Mercure Bristol Grand Hotel


Mercure Bristol Grand Hotel

Starting off with the refreshing Virgin Mojito (£4) and a glass of pineapple juice (£2.65) , after which we were served our mains that included fish and chips (£11.50) that came along with hand cut chips, mushy peas and tarter sauce. The second main was Pan fried Sea-bass (£14.95) that was served with mash potato, rosemary and chili butter. I also wanted to have sweet potato fries (£2.95) so also ordered them, and they were amazing! For the dessert, we had the delicious Brownie Ice cream Sundae (£6.45). 

Mercure Bristol Grand Hotel

Mercure Bristol Grand Hotel

sweet potato fries

Mercure Bristol Grand Hotel

Our king sized bed was comfortable and very spacious for all three of us to fit it in and although there was a separate roll over bed for BabyN' just beside our bed but with a small partition, I just made him sleep next to me on the same bed because it was a new place for him. I didn't want him to feel petrified in the middle of the night generally when he wakes up to see my face and to ensure that I'm around. I had an extremely sound sleep, and was glad that I woke up all ready for some more exploration of the city, the next morning. We headed straight to the Keepers restaurant for breakfast where the buffet was already served. Really liked the variety of the food and also the hot drinks. They had a separate counter dedicated to hot drinks which was self-service and included different kinds of tea, cappuccino, mocha and hot chocolate to cater to all the hotel guests. 

Mercure Bristol Grand Hotel

Mercure Bristol Grand Hotel

Mercure Bristol Grand Hotel

The hot full English breakfast included scrambled eggs, baked mushrooms and tomatoes, hash browns and bacon. They also had assorted cereals, fruits, bakes and juices. After we got fueled up for the fresh new day of exploration, we packed up and left the hotel to explore a bit more of Bristol by foot. We passed the University of Bristol, The Galleries and Bristol Shopping Quarter to name a few. After a quick sightseeing, we headed back to the hotel for check out so we could see the rest of Bristol by car. The stay at Mercure Grand was amazing, and I would definitely recommend it! 

luxury hotel bristol

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Eating Made Fun with Arthur Price Despicable Me 3 - Cutlery & China Sets



Arthur Price, a family owned business that started in 1902 supplies cutlery not just to the hotels, restaurants and airlines but also to the Royal families and Head of States. Recently, the brand has launched a Despicable Me 3 range children's cutlery sets and bone china children's collection featuring Minions - Kevin, Stuart and Bob. As you may know that, Despicable Me is the most loved animation series, so these sets are also really popular among both kids and adults. 





When I first came across the Arthur Price cutlery designs on their website, I was really impressed and had already decided that I have to have one. Although I was really inclined to purchase the cutlery set to doll up my dining table, I thought I should first get one for BabyN' and that's when I came across this Minion themed cutlery and china sets. 

When the box arrived, it was very well packed and in excellent condition. I was really impressed with the quality of the cutlery which was quite apparent because of the shine and the sheen on it. The minions cutlery set for children by Arthur Price is not just perfect for BabyN' but it makes a great present for other children too, and can be given on occasions such as a birthday or at any celebration time such as Christmas or Eid. The box is really  presentable and includes a spoon, knife and fork with Minions embossed on them.


The two four piece children's cutlery sets launched by Arthur Price are retailing for £24.95 each, and the collections are called 'Sea of Minions' and 'Expressions.' Made of 18/10 finest stainless steel, they come with a 15-year guarantee and a lovely presentation box. The Despicable Me 3 bone china Minions collection includes a mug, plate and a bowl which are available for sale, separately and also as a three piece breakfast set selling for £24.95


I also love many other cutlery sets from their range which are perfect for all kinds of occasions, and are available at luxury stores such as Harrods, John Lewis, House of Fraser and DebenhamsYou can also check out the Arthur Price range of cutlery, silverware and gifts, here.

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BabyN's Day Out at the Bristol Zoo Gardens


bristol zoo gardens

My trips to the zoo in my own childhood have never been this frequent as they are now, only because BabyN' is extremely fond of animals. Infact, the word 'extremely' may not even truly define his keen interest in these beautiful creatures. To give you guys a better idea, every time he visits a toy shop the first thing he picks up is always something to do with the animals! Recently, we took BabyN' to the popular Bristol Zoo Gardens in Bristol, and it turned out to be a perfect day-out for him. I've been to some other zoos locally, but most have just the animal enclosures with no additional activity for the visitors and even the variety of animals is not very wide. However, the Bristol zoo has over 400 animal species ans 12 acres of gardens, which are open to the visitors throughout the year.

bristol zoo gardens

As always, we traveled by car and was glad to see a dedicated parking lot for the visitors of the zoo. The parking charge on the day was £3. It was a Saturday, so the area around also had free parking but as expected, it was all full so we turned the car to another street and parked there. Our car was hardly a minute's walk from the zoo and we easily avoided paying the parking charge. To find some other ways in which you can save when on holiday, you can read hereGenerally, I do conduct some bit of research before visiting any place, whatever it is especially if it's not local to us and therefore, I had already skimmed through the website of the zoo to know about the activities going on. As you enter the building, there are several counters where you can get the tickets from and generally an adult ticket costs £22 while a child ticket costs £15 (children under 2 go free).  
bristol zoo gardens

Once you've collected the tickets, simply get in and be ready for the animal entertainment. Bristol Zoo has a very impressive design and layout and is spread across a huge area, which also gave us an idea about the excellent variety of animals. The first thing, we saw were the pink flamingos followed by the lion enclosure where the king of the jungle was busy feasting on the meat that had been given to him by his keeper. We spent a good 10 minutes observing the wild cat munch on his food during which he even stood up for a few seconds to look around, and I'm guessing he was distracted because of someone's camera flashing on him. 

bristol zoo gardens

BabyN' was really overjoyed to see the Asiatic lion and we took lots of photos with it. We also came across a fun fact in the lion enclosure saying that the lions pee in an area to mark their territory and to make it fun for kids, the Bristol Zoo had also made a pretend lion with a button from which water (pretend pee) comes out when you press it. Moving on, we saw lots of other enclosures and animals such as the amphibians, sea life including lots of amazing fish, penguins and seals, gorillas and monkeys. 

bristol zoo gardens

bristol zoo gardens


Bristol Zoo Gardens also have over 9 talks and feeds daily, about animals such as the lions, gorillas and penguins. Luckily, we also got a chance to attend the gorilla talk and feed that was held at the zoo and it was great watching the gorillas munching on the fresh fruits and vegetables that were being given to them by their keeper, while another keeper was telling us about the family of the Western lowland gorillas (some of which were also, a lot more older than me). Although the gorilla house at the zoo itself has a unique 180 degree view, seeing the animals come out from their enclosure and walking towards the open ground was fascinating (see below). 

bristol zoo gardens

The Bristol Zoo also has a restaurant called 'The Hide,' where you can chill and relax while having tea or your meal. They offer a variety of items on the menu which the visitors of the zoo can choose from and charge up after strolling around the place. 

bristol zoo gardens

Nowadays since it even summer holidays, the Bristol Zoo Gardens has also setup a project in the zoo called Dino Mania (free with zoo entry) aimed for some roar-some fun. They've got pretend 11 life-like and animatronic dinosaur figures that are not just fun to see but also fun to play with as they move, open their mouths and make noises. We even spotted a dinosaur that was spraying water and all the kids were really amused with it. Further along, we also saw a large dinosaur enclosure within the boundary of Dino Mania that had another huge dinosaur and some fun activities for children of all ages. BabyN' really enjoyed discovering a dino fossil by removing the sand with a brush, throwing rings and putting dinosaurs and their food in their designated boxes in another activity spot. The older kids played puzzles, made drawings, did crossword land enjoyed some other games too! The setup will be there at the zoo till the 3rd of September so make sure to visit before that date, to ensure that you don't miss the popular Dino Mania. 

I'm sure we must have spent at least an hour at the Dino Mania as BabyN' was in no mood to go home but my husband and I were quite hungry at that time, and we wanted to eat at a restaurant in the Bristol town center so we decided to leave. The exit is through their shop full of various toys and animal figures allowing you to take home some profound memories of the time spent at the brilliant Bristol Zoo. 

bristol zoo gardens

We had a fun filled thrilling day at the Bristol Zoo, and definitely recommend it for a family day out with kids. I'm also hoping to do a little vlog on my visit, and I'll be sharing with you soon. Meanwhile, you can also read about my trip to the last wildlife park I visited on the blog, here.


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Top Tips For Boosting Confidence, When Starting a New Job


Starting a new job can be a nerve-wracking and an overwhelming experience, and the anxiety that first day can bring can make you feel less confident but thankfully, there are things you can do to help give your confidence a boost. Here are some top tips to help you feel more confident when starting a new job.

Look good to feel good

When starting a new job, it’s important to make a good impression by looking the best for your boss and your new team. This can benefit you too, as knowing that you look good can boost the level of your confidence. So, before your first day, it’s a good idea to do those things that usually help you feel good about your appearance and yourself. You could treat yourself to a haircut, facial, or a nice new outfit. Website like Simon Jersey Uniforms specialise in quality work wear, making it quick and easy to buy the ideal outfit that will leave a lasting impression. Once you’ve got your outfit sorted, make sure you’re well-groomed and get to bed extra early the night before. If you’re into fitness, it’s a good idea to make time for a run or workout at your local gym. Exercise like this, can help you get rid of any nervousness or tension  you might be feeling and release endorphin, helping you to feel happier, more positive and confident.

Be comfortable

When it comes to what you’ll wear, it’s important not just to look good but feel comfortable, as comfort can help a lot with confidence. If you feel uncomfortable – a shirt might feel too tight or a skirt too short – you’re likely to feel conscious of this, which can make you feel less confident. This can happen at those moments when you might feel a bit exposed and vulnerable, but would prefer to feel confident, like when being introduced to the rest of your team. To help ensure you feel comfortable on your first day, it’s a good idea to try on the outfit you plan to wear several days before. Make sure it’s comfortable and think about how you’ll feel wearing it all day long. This can give you time to find or buy something more comfortable instead. Also, make sure your clothing is fully ironed or dry cleaned. As well as not creating such a good impression, you’re likely to feel less confident in a shirt that’s still a bit creased than a well-pressed suit.

Try to relax

It’s okay to feel nervous on your first day – that’s perfectly normal! However, you should still do what you can to try and relax to boost your confidence. If you arrive on your first day with your body full of tension, you might appear uneasy, be a bit short with people, and be less inclined to speak to your new colleagues. Whereas, if you’re more relaxed, your mindset and body language should reflect that too. You’ll appear more at ease and feel more confident to make an effort and talk to others. To help with this, it’s wise to get to the office early on your first day to give yourself time to relax and focus. Rushing to get there, without time for a breather, can do nothing for your confidence. Instead, aim to give yourself ample time for a walk around the local area to walk off any nervous tension, or grab a coffee at a nearby cafe. Getting familiar with the area you’ll be working in can also help give you a sense of belonging, which can boost your confidence too.





Believe in yourself – and remember there’s a process

Another important thing to remember to improve your confidence when starting a new a job is to believe in yourself. Remember, you’ve been selected for the job because you have the skills or talent your new company needs. They see something in you that, perhaps, you don’t see yourself. Just keep all that in mind if you start doubting your abilities on your first day. Finally, it’s wise to remember that when starting a new job there’s process – usually a probation period and time to develop. You won’t be expected to have all the answers or impress everyone right away. Just as you won’t be expected to understand all aspects of your new job and remember everyone’s names from day one. All these things come over time, and expecting too much of yourself can lower your confidence. So try not to put too much pressure on yourself, take things one step at a time, and be prepared to ask for help if you need it. All this can help keep your confidence up, not just on your first day, but for the weeks that follow.


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6 Ways to Save Money When on Holiday



They might often come just once a year, but holidays don’t tend to come cheap. With so much to see, do, take in and experience over that one special week or fortnight, a holiday budget can go out of the window. Holidaymakers can instead end up spending far more than they hope, whether they’re travelling around to see the sights or choosing expensive eateries to eat out. However, there are ways you can save the pennies when you’re away and still enjoy a great holiday experience. With this in mind, loans company Auto Advance offers some top ways to help you save money on your next holiday.

Walk

Instead of paying for buses, tubes or trains to get around your chosen holiday destination, save money and walk. Walking can be the best way to see and really experience the culture, lifestyle and buzz of some towns and cities when on holiday. You can see much on foot, from charming backstreets and quirky architecture to hidden cafes and bars, which you might miss when traveling by public transport.

Buy a sightseeing pass

A great and cost-effective way to see the sights of a famous city, like London, Paris or Barcelona, is to buy a sightseeing bus pass for a day or two. This usually gives you access to an open-top bus, which travels around a city and stops off at the main tourist sights. The pass allows you to hop on and off to visit these landmarks, as much as you want, or you can stay on the bus all day long – all without having to pay any extra cost.

Arrange your own excursions 

If you’re staying at a holiday resort, or will be doing an ocean cruise, you’ll usually be given the chance to pay extra to enjoy some excursions. However, these day trips don’t come cheap. Some can also be a bit of a con, where you only spend a short time at a place of interest and more time travelling there and back on a coach – not to mention, stopping by countless hotels to pick up and drop off other holidaymakers. To save money (and time), why not try arranging your own excursions. Before your holiday, do some research and find out about the best places to visit. Check how is best to get there, put together an itinerary, and plan some exciting days out.


Make the most of the beach

Many people like to go to the seaside when on holiday, but, with hotel pools and nearby water parks, some don’t make the most of the beach. Yet, the beaches can provide a free day out and something for everyone, young and old, from swimming and sunbathing to fishing in rock pools and building sandcastles. There’s also often plenty of picturesque coastal walks to experience, or you can just sit back, enjoy the scenery, and take it all in.

Hire a diesel car

If you want to hire a car on your holiday, your best option to help you save money can be choosing one that runs on diesel. These cars are often cheaper to hire than other fuel types. They usually require less fuel, which saves money when filling up. Countries overseas, like France, also usually offer diesel at a cheaper price than in the UK.


Eat like a local

Rather than eating out at the cafes and restaurants of costly tourist hot spots, eat like a local and try the cheaper eateries instead. As food at these establishments is locally sourced and not imported, they tend to be cheaper than the more mainstream places, aimed at holiday makers. A backstreet bistro in France or a noodle bar in Vietnam, for instance, can also give a more cultural experience of your holiday destination. If you want to treat yourself to a glass of red or white when eating out, ask about the local wines they offer to save money too. Moreover, before going out on a day trip, it’s wise to buy food from local supermarkets to provide you with a good lunch, rather than eating out in expensive tourist traps. And when your holiday comes to an end, consider stocking up on food to save paying for costly snacks


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Tips to Set Your Perfect Home Office



A home office is a fantastic addition to any property, not just as a place to work but as a place to study, create and relax but there are a number of different elements to the perfect home office to keep in mind. Companies like office design specialists Penketh Group are perfect as places to turn to for help, ideas and inspiration, taking the work they do for large offices and businesses and looking at how those ideas can translate to a home office.

Space

Your home office might simply be working at the kitchen table, or a small secluded corner of the house. Ideally your home office should be a dedicated space, free from the hustle and bustle of a house. Dedicated space means you can work more efficiently, without the need to constantly clear a table for eating, doing homework or entertaining. Your own space also means you can tailor the way the room is set up and used to suit your specific needs. You might utilize your home office as a craft room, or a study. Giving yourself a set area allows you to set your office up in such a way that accommodates books, tools, or the other equipment you need to work effectively. 

Storage

Space might be at a premium, especially if the room you use for an office is the smallest one in the house. This is why storage is key in your home office, making it extremely important. Filing, shelving and organisation can be a huge help in the fight against clutter but your organisation can be tied into the decoration of a room. For example, if your home office is where you make something to sell, clothes or stationary for example, consider as an alternative to a feature wall that holds all your materials. It can still look impressive and stylish, but will evolve constantly as you use and refill. This also works with shelving and bookcases, and dedicating a wall to storage and organisation can work wonders, not just helping to keep your office tidy but also assisting you to work in the most effective way possible.

Technology

You might run your business from home, if so the technology you use in your home office can play a huge part in the work you do. This could involve having a fixed webcam and microphone allowing you to have professional Skype calls enabling you have meetings with clients without needing to travel. If you sell products or you’re a blogger you might need space for a lightbox and photography equipment to photograph your products or subjects to provide proper images for your website. You also need to think about the things that you take for granted in a regular office, printers, scanners, etc. as all need to be considered based on the work you do. 

A home office should be there to help you work more effectively rather than causing distraction. Making sure your office is equipped and able to help you do your job to the best of your abilities can help reduce stress, increase productivity and work wonders for a business.

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