Category Archives: service

Buxton Veg & Fruit Co-op

From talking with other families, it’s easy to get stuck in a meals rut having the same food, week on week. You end up cooking the same ‘go to’ meals – ours are tomato pasta; sausages and veg; and Thai chicken curry. They’re yummy – but we were looking to mix it up a bit! I was looking around for inspiration when I heard of a local service that has helped us try new recipes (meals listed below), increased our veg and fruit intake, saved us money AND it supports a not-for-profit community group.

Bright Opportunities is a group for adults with learning difficulties living in the High Peak, located in Buxton. They offer a day service, with educational, leisure and development activities. A few years ago, Buxton Vegetable and Fruit Co-operative was set up to provide an affordable way for the local community to have fruit and veg. They involved Bright Opportunities to organise buying the seasonal produce in bulk from a local wholesaler, sorting it into bags and collecting the money – helping develop the adults’ life skills.

You can buy a bag at a time, here’s what we had the last two weeks (the money saving is impressive):


Two weeks of veg and fruit

And the cooking? Well, we’ve used this fruit and veg in:

* slow cooker beef stroganoff
* cabbage with onion and bacon
* leek and potato soup
* slow cooker stuffed apples
* roasted veg with humous and couscous

Yummmm roasted veg

And of course, as veg on the side with our favourite meal – sausages!

Each bag costs just £3 – bargain! As a quick calculation, the bags we’ve had so far were worth about £7 – £9 so it’s a huge saving. All the fruit and veg lasted well, the potatoes just took more cleaning than we’re used to.

I loved that having the bag of fruit and veg encouraged us to try new food and it’s good to know it also supports a local community group.

The bags are available every Thursday from around Buxton (United Reformed Church Hardwick Square, Residents of Fairfield Association, SureStart Fairfield and Buxton Volunteer Centre), to reserve your bag get in touch with one of the collection centres or contact them via their Facebook page.

I’m off to make some healthy vegetable soup!


Michelle x


Five reasons to love Whitebox Photography

When you have children you want to capture them growing up with perfect professional photos that make your heart smile whenever you look at them. Baby E was in neonatal after she was born so we didn’t have any cute newborn photos and I was keen to make up for lost time, though I thought it was too expensive to do on a regular basis. But, I’ve found a wonderful local solution which means you can regularly have PROFESSIONAL photos taken at an AFFORDABLE price, right here in the Peak District.

Since our first photoshoot with the wonderful Whitebox Photography we have been back many times and I’m always spreading the word about the fabulous Liam who runs the local franchise. Here are my top five reasons for loving a Whitebox photoshoot:

Unbelievable value
A Whitebox photoshoot is LESS THAN £50. I’ve written that in capitals and bold to emphasis the point – people never believe me! To reserve a photo slot is only £15, so if on the day your children are sick and you can’t go, not too much money has been wasted. When researching online, most other shoots seemed to cost a couple of hundred, this is much more affordable. And at such a great price, you can have regular shoots!

Digital copies
At the end of the shoot you are given a CD with ALL the photos. So there’s no need to um and ah over selecting just 5 pictures (which happens with some photographers) and it means can print them, or share online, whatever you want. We have family all around the UK and abroad so it’s great to easily share photos.


Relaxed atmosphere
Liam and his assistant make you and the family feel at ease. There are props for photos, toys to amuse the children and if you’re quick you can have an outfit change! Liam is there to get the most out of you so you’re happy with the photos.


Super quick
Each shoot is about 15 minutes. That doesn’t sound long, but try grinning for 15 minutes or keeping children happy to pose for that length of time! I’m always amazed at the number of photos you get in 15 minutes – on average we have had about 100 each time. Also it’s just the right length of time for children to stay engaged.

There are so many ways you can enjoy the photos afterwards
We are always  thrilled with the photos and have used them in many different ways:

Large print family photo
Framed by Aperture Picture Framing in Buxton (a GREAT framers, he matched this frame to another we had)


Printed onto canvas
And displayed on our dresser – we use Photobox


Framed for us to have in our offices at work

Printed copies to pass to nursery
So E could show off her family

Thank you cards
After A was born

Digital magnets made by Sticky9
So E can play with them on our fridge


Turned into a beautiful illustration
By the local artist Elizabeth Furness to go next to the pencil drawing of her daddy


Whitebox Photography is coming to Buxton again at the end of February 2016, you can book a slot online.

I will share our photos after the shoot!

Happy posing 😉

Michelle x

Five Ways Cafe and Laundrette (review)

What you really don’t need when you move with a refluxy little one is the washing machine not to work! One of our ‘Buxton resolutions’ is to not end up with mounds of dirty washing to wash or piles of clean washing to put away – the parents’ NeverEnding Story. The new plan was to set off a load overnight and then in the morning it could go straight in the dryer.

Keep calm and drink tea sign
Keep calm

The start of the plan worked… until at 3 in the morning I heard a constant beeping so sent hubby off the investigate where he declared the washing machine wasn’t working 😦

It meant the next day I had to find a laundrette to wash the slightly wet washing, not a chore I was looking forward to. After stuffing it all into the most popular laundry bag in the world, baby E and I trudged off to Five Ways Cafe and Laundrette.

Exterior picture of Five Ways Cafe and Laudrette
Five Ways Cafe and Laundrette

I was delighted to find that the laundrette also had a cafe attached – genius idea! Whilst I was waiting for the washing, it would have been rude not to have a fry up, surely?

Plate of cooked breakfast

The lovely lady behind the counter (‘chelle) let me look at the ingredients on all the packets so I could check for dairy and with the promise of no butter in the cooking a fry up was on order.

Happily baby E slept through mummy’s unhealthy brunch, so I enjoyed the bacon, sausage, egg, mushrooms and tomato in peace and quiet. There’s nothing quite like a good fry up!

I finished, E woke up and then it was time to dry the washing alongside trying to entertain the little lass. We ALMOST had the washing dry before she decided enough was enough so we went quickly home for a feed.

The good news is that the washing machine is now fixed, the bad news is that I don’t have an excuse to go back to the cafe!

Baby friendly summary:


  • Helpful staff
  • Traditional British cafe – range of food including dairy free fry up
  • Plenty of space for pushchairs
  • Also a laundrette!!!


  • Would have felt a bit exposed boobing, but female staff were supportive when I chatted about dairy free feeding
  • No toilet / changing area I could see (but didn’t ask)
  • Wifi advertised but couldn’t get it to work

In summary, a good cafe if you have cravings for a fry up – though need to check for toilet facilities.

Thanks for reading. Here’s to our next adventure!

Family photo shoot

Saturday was one of those picture perfect kind of days; the sun was shining, Buxton looked beautiful and there were smiles all around.

Action shot!

It seemed fitting that we had booked a photo session with White Box Photography to capture this new stage in our family’s life adventure – the move to Buxton. A few of my more organised friends have proudly shown off their new baby family pics on Facebook (yes that’s you Emily Macdonald!) and I wanted to try it out.

We don’t have many newborn family pics of baby E as she was in hospital for quite a while after she was born and once out I had the constant wild woman look about me of someone getting about 3 hours sleep a night – not particularly photogenic. I really wanted to try a family photo shoot and the criteria for me was a) not too expensive (incase I didn’t like the pics of me, more of a behind the camera kind of gal), b) gave us digital copies with copyright so we could do as we pleased with them and c) in a local, informal situation so I didn’t get too stressed about the whole thing!

After trawling the web I came across a discussion on a Facebook parenting group where they recommended White Box Photography. I had a quick peek at their website and was excited to see that the next session in Buxton was just after we had moved up. With only a £15 booking fee (of a total cost £45 per session) it meant that if we had to cancel due to E being unwell it wouldn’t be too costly.

Ahead of the session I messaged Liam at White Box Photography asking for advice on how to prepare. He helpfully suggested:

  • The sessions are informal and taken mostly sitting on a white background so wear clothes for comfort and modesty.
  • White clothes often lose detail and can make the subject a bit bland so pastel or strong colours which suit the individual work well.
  • Look other photos to see if there are any particular poses you’d like.

And I’d add to the list:

  • Take at least two changes of clothes in case the baby is sick and be careful holding them as they may be sick on you!
  • Pick outfits for the family that you think will compliment each other.
  • Plan the day’s timings, I worked out when I’d need to boob E so that she’d be a full happy baby for the shoot, not hungry or tired.

The session was booked, we sorted out our clothes to wear (first time for me not wearing jeans since E was born!) and looked forward to the shoot.

When we arrived we were warmly greeted by Liam and Carolyn who instantly put us at ease. First for photos was Elizabeth; we changed her into a dress, then repositioned the dress where she was a bit sick and with much squeeking of her Sophie giraffe Liam captured some smiley pics.

Then it was a family turn, three of us sitting together – was lovely and quick!

We then changed E into her awesome stripy outfit and tried just ones of her. She started crying so I went in to cheer her up and Liam took some pics of me and a giggling little girl before it was finally daddy’s turn.

The shoot wizzed by and Liam took loads of photos. After the session finished I picked E up and she promptly threw up over both of us – timing 🙂

Carolyn let us look at all the pictures whilst she burnt them onto disc and we were done. Here’s one of the gorgeous pictures of me and my little pickle!

Photo of Michelle and baby E
Cute baby!

A brilliant photo session, it was just what we wanted and for such a reasonable price we’re going to book to go back again.

Now I’m an ‘expert’ at this, here’s what I recommend you should think about before booking a family photographer:

  • Do you get copyright of the photos so you can print them how you like, e.g. a mug for gran, framed photo etc.?
  • How long a session do you want? We were happy with 15 mins but you might want a longer session with more clothes / prop changes.
  • Are they run at a time and location suitable for you?
  • Does the photographer seem friendly – you need someone who will put you at ease to get good photos out of you and your family.
  • Does the price fit your budget?
  • Can you look at previous photos the photographer has taken? You need to be happy with their style.

Here’s a summary of baby friendliness of the whole experience:


  • Nice and quick! Babies have short attention spans.
  • Time for an outfit change.
  • Baby friendly photographer and colleague who made E smile.
  • Easy to get to location (space for pushchair).
  • Well priced.
  • Photos on CD and copyright free so we can easily share with family around the world.
  • If your baby is under 3 months the first shoot is free!


  • No baby changing facilities we could see at the location, but plenty of floor space.
  • Short photo session – some people might prefer a longer shoot.
  • Nowhere to sit and feed a baby, if required, but High Street, with cafes, was 5 minutes away.

Thanks for reading, here’s to our next adventure!