Saturday, 24 June 2017

How to be a Proper Blogger

Roses in vase and notebooks
I have nearly reached five years of blogging and, during that time, my approach to blogging has changed dramatically. I started blogging purely because I like writing. I didn't consider making money from it for a good three years. After that, it sort of happened accidentally and I now enjoy the fact that I can make money from doing something I love. The downside is, it's been a major contributor in changing the way I blog and the way I think about blogging. Over time I've become more interested in whether I'm blogging 'properly'. I look at other bloggers, and I wonder if I should be blogging more like them, if I could be more professional, perhaps. These are my thoughts on 'proper' blogging.

Monday, 19 June 2017

Swansea Beach Review and General Thoughts

I decided to review Swansea seafront after visiting over the weekend. It was different in many ways to other beaches we've visited, for good and bad reasons, so I really felt it would be useful to note down a few points for anyone who is considering going. Swansea is the second largest city in Wales, with over 260 shops, and 25 car parks, so it's easy to forget that it is also home to a pretty impressive stretch of coastline. However, if you are thinking of making a visit to the beach, there are a few things you might need to know, particularly if you have little ones, or anyone elderly or infirm in your travelling party. We've been to Swansea, and here's what we learned.

Wednesday, 14 June 2017

Snooker, a Cheap and Fun All Weather Family Activity

I don't know about you, but we really struggle sometimes to think of new ideas for places to go on rainy days. Sometimes, even in the summer, it seems to rain for days and days and boredom sets in for everybody. I think, as a family, it's important to try to get out of the house as much as possible, in order to get away from all the distractions. Everyone relaxes more outside the home; the grown ups can't think about housework, DIY and other chores and the screentime thing doesn't have to be an issue with the children, so everyone wins. This doesn't have to be a 'dad and lad' activity, but for us it definitely was, as part of the 'Please bring the boy back when he's tired' initiative. Thus, the boys took the photos. *sigh*

Sunday, 11 June 2017

My Sunday Photo: A Final Memory

This was the last photo my dear friend and fellow blogger Lynn ever sent me. I think it's stunning and I wanted to share it so that everyone could see how amazing she was. She will be missed by so many and this photo shows how she could light up a room. 


Saturday, 10 June 2017

5 Ways to Save Money in Iceland

Skogar Folk Museum, IcelandDo you remember when the Dismaland exhibit opened in Weston-super-Mare and I couldn't go, so instead, I asked my intrepid explorer friend Mel, from The Diary of a Jewellery Lover to tell you all about it? Well, she now has a travel blog, where she documents her adventures as she explores the globe with her husband. When I mentioned how keen I was to go to Iceland, but how expensive it was reputed to be, she sent over this rather brilliant budget guide on how to save money in Iceland. There's some great advice in here, as well as some fascinating shots of the island. Come for the tips, stay for the stunning photographs! 

Wednesday, 7 June 2017

Mason's Arms Stonehouse Pizza and Carvery Review

Boy on Slide
About three miles north of the Almondsbury interchange, on the A38 in Rudgeway, stands a little pub. The Mason's Arms has been there for as long as I can remember, but recently it's had a pretty spectacular makeover. Stonehouse Pizza and Carvery own 77 outlets across the country and The Mason's is one of their most recent acquisitions. As a regular visitor before it changed hands, I was amazed at the transformation. Gone were the dated, split level sections and in their place; clean lines, bright colours and fresh paint. We were invited to dine for free, in return for our honest review, so we were keen to find out if it lived up to our new-found expectations!

Monday, 5 June 2017

When Your Best Friend Dies

I've been very lucky in my life. The only people who have passed from it, have been older relatives. Now, as much as there is never a good time to go, it's a little easier to come to terms with when you have lots of good times to remember, you know they had a long and happy life and contributed a lot to the world. They will be remembered because they made their mark; in their profession, through their clubs and hobbies, on their friends and colleagues. Everyone will say 'Oh yes, lovely chap, had a good innings' and, after the initial loss, you can at least have that little crumb of comfort, they got the best out of life. Then, your best friend dies. Very suddenly and very young, and all of that changes.

Beautiful Bowood House and Gardens - Review

Bowood House
Bowood is somewhere that I remember going as a child and I have wanted to visit again ever since. I remember it being very beautiful and having lovely gardens, as well as a stunning lake. There is also an imposing stately home too, which I knew Phil would love, as he is a massive history buff. It's situated in Calne, in Wiltshire and is famous for its rhodedendrons, which are available to view at an additional cost. There is also a private walled garden that you can pay extra to visit. So, we set off in the middle of half term through the country lanes of Wiltshire to Bowood House and Gardens. This is our review of what we found there and if it lived up to my wonderful memories!

Saturday, 3 June 2017

SS Great Britain - Step Aboard and Back in Time

SS Great Britain Flags and Chimneys
The SS Great Britain has always been one of our favourite Bristol attractions. What I love about it, is that it is perfect for all weathers. The deck is gorgeous in the summer sun, but if it rains, there is plenty to see undercover. We haven't been for a while now, though and I had wondered if it would still appeal to L now that he is older. We took Phil along this time, too, and he hadn't been since he was at school. What I noticed was that, we all got something different out of it and there was something for everyone. We were lucky with the weather this time, it was really warm and sunny, although it did make the Dry Dock a bit humid, it was like the tropical house at the zoo! I suppose all that glass will do that...

8 Pet Hates - What gets my Goat!

Happy GoatThis is the epitomy of a #FirstWorldProblems post, but it's not to be taken seriously. I'm writing it for fun and I am totally aware that none of life's little niggles are comparable to all the bad things in the world, but that doesn't mean there isn't room for some lighthearted Mr Meldrew-style moaning about life's little imperfections. I will be inviting other bloggers (or non-bloggers, if you fancy a go) to write their own 8 pet hates, but, to start us off, here's mine. Let me know if you'd like to contribute, in a comment, or through my contact page. I'd love to see what gets other people's goats! 

Friday, 2 June 2017

Review: Gangsta Granny at the Bristol Hippodrome

Granny and Ben on Mobility Scooter
We were absolutely thrilled to be asked to review Gangsta Granny, the stage adaptation of David Walliams' fantastic book. We love going to the theatre and, having read all the David Walliams books, L couldn't wait to see how it transferred to the stage. I wasn't worried about a children's show being less appealing for the grown ups. Walliams has proven to be a visual comic genius and there is no way he was going to let us down in the laugh department. I was not disappointed and neither was L. He was absolutely transfixed for the whole two hours and so was every other child in the nearly full theatre.

Friday, 26 May 2017

BrickBox Subscription Box Review

Boy with Brickbox Package, title overlaid
Lego and other compatible building sets will always be popular with children. They're just so entertaining in the way they capture the imagination with the endless building possibilities and ideas. Every parent knows how much children love getting post, it's a joy that sadly diminishes with age and the onset of many bills, but in a child, it's still a moment of pure excitement, when they realise a letter or parcel is for them. So, when we were asked to review a Brickbox box, all the way from the Netherlands, I was very keen to see how excited L would be to receive post that turned out to be Lego. Life doesn't get much better than that when you are 11!

Wednesday, 24 May 2017

Stop Naming Terrorists - We Don't Care

Lady with finger to lips, title overlaid
Yesterday, I wrote about the bomb blast in Manchester and how I felt that it was pointless for many reasons. One of those reasons was that the cause, or the perpetrators, would not be remembered, only the innocent and the brave who were caught up in the atrocity. Then, this morning, all over the news, were all the details of the 'loser', to quote Mr Trump (yes, I know, only sensible thing he's ever said!) and it made me really angry. Why are we giving them what they want? Why do we care what his name was or when his birthday is? The mindset of anyone who could commit an atrocity like this is to make a name for themselves, so why are we giving them that opportunity? Stop naming terrorists!

Tuesday, 23 May 2017

Manchester #WeStandTogether

A Manchester cityscape with title overlaid
I went to bed early last night, so it wasn't until this morning that I woke up to the horrific news from Manchester Arena. There are no words are there? There are no words that will do anything to ease the pain for those families, the ones with missing children, the ones who are coming to terms with losing a loved one. Nothing anyone can say will make it any better for any of them. Not even the ones that maybe weren't hurt, the 'lucky ones'. Those people, most of them very young, will carry the memories, the emotional scars of what happened, probably forever. And for what? What can it possibly achieve? I just don't get it. I don't understand the point of it at all.

Sunday, 21 May 2017

Three Girls; A Difficult, but Worthwhile Watch

A Bristol Street with Title OverlaidI thought about whether or not to watch this three part drama for so long, all three parts were available on iPlayer by the time I got around to it. I knew it was always going to be a difficult watch, but in the end, I felt I owed it to them, after everything they went through, to at least hear their story. Which might sound daft, but there it is. If, like me, you are struggling with whether or not to give it a go, whether it will be too much, or too graphic, I wanted to give you my take on it, now that I've seen it. I think it's very important viewing, as it happens. Here's what I learned. Oh, and I'm going to try and write this with no spoilers, I'll come back and let you know how that worked out when I've finished. Edit: Nailed it!

Win a Motor Mania Mega Garage Centre


Wednesday, 17 May 2017

Gino's Generalisations - 'Fussy' isn't Always a Choice

Pink Desk with Corner of Keyboard VisibleIt's a common bugbear amongst experienced parents, when other people pass judgement on your parenting skills, your children's behaviour, or any other aspect of your family life. It's not actually limited to parenting, no one likes to be judged by people who have not walked in their shoes. For the purposes of keeping this short, though, I am going to focus on the particularly superior and judge-y parent-bashers, who think they know best. Some are parents, some are not and one is a famous celebrity chef who jolly well ought to know better. I don't have any pictures of Gino D'Acampo, so I will be illustrating this post with cake, although my son would not eat it if it had jam in the middle, because he doesn't like jam. So there.

Friday, 12 May 2017

Loving London - The Best of British

A London street, with title overlaidI am not very good at London. I absolutely love going and I would love to go more often, so that I get the hang of getting around a bit better, but I'm still very much a tourist when it comes to navigating. It's a great place to be, though, and I've always felt really at home there. I love the diversity, the different architecture, and I really love the people. People say London isn't friendly, but this has never been my experience. I've always wanted to write a post about my experience of London, as a visitor and, after visiting recently for the This Morning Live press event, I had the perfect opportunity. So here is everything I love about our capital city, let me know in the comments if you agree or if I've missed anything!

Saturday, 6 May 2017

This Morning LIVE is Coming to Birmingham in May!

This Morning presenters, with title overlaidSometimes, as a blogger, I'm just a little bit spoilt and couple of weeks ago was no exception. I was invited by Netmums to attend an afternoon tea party to launch the very exciting This Morning LIVE consumer lifestyle event, which will be coming to the Birmingham NEC from the 18th to the 21st of May this year. I read 'cake' and was already on my way, but it turned out there were a lot of very interesting people to meet, including many of the This Morning family who will be at the show, and it was really interesting to find out how they felt about this new live venture. If you haven't got your ticket yet, here's a few good reasons why you should, even if you are not an avid watcher of  the TV show!

Tuesday, 2 May 2017

How to Support Someone Who is Unhappy with Their Weight

Cakes in a No Entry Sign with Title OverlaidI suspect this post may meet with some controversy due to the subject matter. There are some people (thin people) who believe that losing weight is as simple as eating less and that anyone who is overweight is simply greedy. However, as a former thin person, I can confirm this isn't always the case. I put on weight due to a combination of health issues, some that cause me to hang on to weight, and the worst one, which is a pain illness making most forms of exercise impossible. I never thought I'd say I miss jogging! The point of this post is that a lot of people are unhappy with their weight and it can take many attempts to be successful in losing it, but here's how to help by not making the situation any worse. 

Monday, 1 May 2017

Review of the New Hatchimals CollEGGtibles Range

Three Hatchimal CollEGGtible Packs with Title OverlaidWho can forget the great Hatchimal shortage of Christmas 2016. Easily the most popular toy of the season, everyone seemed to want to get their hands on one and who can blame them. Cute, appealing, and a brand new concept in an interactive toy. If your little ones loved the original Hatchimal, then they are going to go loopy for the latest addition to the range; Hatchimal CollEGGtibles. These tiny, adorable little critters are exactly what it says in the title, collectible, affordable, Hatchimal miniatures. We were sent some for free to see what we thought, ahead of today's launch, and we've been dying to tell you all about it.

Tuesday, 25 April 2017

Review of Anki Overdrive, and What an 11 Year Old Really Thinks!

L recently had a birthday, and was lucky enough to be sent an Anki Overdrive Starter Set to review to see whether it would make a great gift for an 11 year old. He has been keen to get one since he saw them advertised at Christmas, so I was interested to see how he would get on with it. I have reviewed it from my own point of view, as chief picker of birthday gifts in the household, but have also added a video containing L's review, in his own words. If you are thinking of buying this product for a child you know, it is very interesting to see what a child really thought of it! The Anki Overdrive Starter Set is available from the website and retails at £149.

Weston Super Mare - A Fun Family Day Out with GWR and a Competition

we are big fans of all things railway in our family. L was obsessed with trains when he was little and I love them, because it's such a great way to travel. I don't drive, so I always feel slightly guilty that I can't contribute to the driving on long journeys, and it's always so much more relaxing when no one has to drive or worry about traffic or parking. It's quicker, too and everyone can spend the whole journey taking in the scenery instead of driving or(my job) navigating. We were sponsored by GWR to take a family trip in celebration of their new social media competition where you could win your own day out and £500 spending money.

Tuesday, 18 April 2017

Win a £10 Amazon Gift Voucher Ends 01/05

Win a £10 Amazon voucherHere's another opportunity to win a £10 Amazon voucher in our latest competition, to spend it on whatever you like! Please be advised that the email address you use on the rafflecopter will be the one I send the prize to if you win, unless you tell me otherwise, so do make sure it's up to date. Entry is very simple and you can enter using as many, or as few of the options as you like, there are no mandatory entries. I have had more than one competition winner who just entered through the free entry, so it shows it can be done! Good luck!

Monday, 17 April 2017

Newnham on Severn - Gloucestershire Picnic Site with Great Disabled Access

Days out are always a bit of a struggle when you have problems getting around. There are lots of potential pitfalls and choosing where to go is something to consider very carefully. Accessibility and appropriate facilities are a must for a stress-free visit and if you want to just go for a nice drive and find a picnic spot, it's not always easy to find out what's there in advance. So, when we recently discovered a beautiful picnic spot on the edge of the River Severn, in the Forest of Dean, I thought it would be a good idea to share it here, as it's got great disabled access and has the best views and offers an excellent viewing point for the Severn Bore. 

Tuesday, 11 April 2017

50 Thoughts Insomniacs Have Almost Every Night

Person lying down, completely covered by quilt, with title overlaidTick, tick, tick goes the clock, every second mocking you and your inability to drop off. You have tried everything; hot drinks, reading, blackout blinds, but nothing works. However tired you feel during the day, you know that the second your head hits the pillow, your eyes will flatly refuse to close and your brain will churn over all sorts of stuff, preventing you from accessing the much needed shut-eye you crave. If this is you, you may recognise some of the below. A comprehensive list of the common thoughts insomniacs dwell on pretty much every night. If I've missed any out, feel free to add your own in the comments. No one knows why this stuff suddenly matters, perhaps that's a mystery to ponder in the early hours too! 


Alternative Chocolate-Free Easter Gift Ideas

Giant Rabbit Hugging a Small Boy with Title OverlaidIt's not uncommon these days to find people who are lactose, or dairy, intolerant, but there are also other reasons not to buy chocolate eggs for Easter. Maybe there are other health issues that might make chocolate a bad idea, or perhaps you would prefer to avoid it, simply to promote a better diet, or just because chocolate eggs can be a bit samey and unimaginative. Whatever the reason, there are lots of other options, which will last a lot longer and are more interesting too. I originally planned this gift guide for children, but there are a few ideas that would be suitable for adults too. This post is totally unsponsored, but does contain some affilate links to products I liked on Amazon.

Monday, 10 April 2017

Bogs Footwear; Grown Up Wellies with Style!

Bogs Sidney Cravat Wellies with Title Overlaid
L has had his Bogs wellies for quite a while now, and they are still going strong. This is good news, because he wears them pretty much every day. They are so easy to pull on, with the convenient handles and who wants to waste time with velcro, or laces, when you are 11 and have places to go? Anyway, it turns out they also make some of the most stylish grown up wellies I've ever seen. No more boring green, oh no. Pom Poms are far more exciting, or maybe even spring flowers. Why should wellies be boring, just because they need to be 100% waterproof? Bogs offer 100% waterproofing, alongside a world of technology to aid comfort and safety in any weather. 

Thursday, 6 April 2017

Gift Ideas for Pre-Teen Boys

It is widely accepted that men are considerably harder to buy for than ladies. There are many shiny, sparkly, or fragrant options for girly gifts that do not really have an equal in the man department. If your man has a hobby, fair enough, you have options, but even then it can get a little repetitive after a few years! It has recently come to my attention that man-gift-trouble starts a lot earlier than I previously realised. When L was turning 11, a few weeks ago, I suddenly realised I had been thrust into the 'what to buy a (small) man' dilemma much earlier than anticipated and I had few ideas for this tricky age. Fortunately, though, some great brands came to my rescue with some ideas I hadn't even thought of! Items were sent free for us to play with, opinions are always our own.

Tuesday, 4 April 2017

A Round Up of Recent Adventures: March

Pokemon cake with title overlaid
I know I've been trying to do a weekend post as often as I can, but we have had such a crazy couple of weeks, it's gone a bit by the wayside. So, instead, here's a round up of a few of the fun things that have gone on in our lives since I last had a chance to write about fun stuff. I may carry on with this format, so that I'm not limited to weekends and I don't have to bore you to death if nothing interesting happens! Highlights over the last couple of weeks included L's birthday, the party, War Horse, oh yes, and of course cake. A big cheaty cake, that I sort-of made, but still cake!

Wednesday, 29 March 2017

How to Make Quality Party Bags for a Fraction of the Cost

Finished party bag with title overlaidFor an 11 year old's birthday party, the preparations can be tricky. A long way past the many cartoon characters and children's favourites that adorn the majority of party supplies, they still want to have fun and enjoy themselves. When I went shopping for party bags and supplies, I was disappointed at the high cost, limited range available to buy. In the end, I went my own way, with a design for home made party bags, which I think have a lot more appeal and work out around £1 each, although you could probably reduce this further, by shopping in advance and grabbing some bargains, instead of leaving it until the day before, like me! 

Monday, 27 March 2017

Gangsta Granny at The Bristol Hippodrome! Win a Family Ticket and Signed Programme!

Gangsta Granny

Old Man Attacks, but Was I in the Wrong?!

Tea cup, with title overlaidRecently, I went to an event at our local theatre, to celebrate the return of War Horse in October (more on that soon!). After the event, a lot of us went to the bar for tea and cakes. Although I arrived at the function on my own, I am glad to say, I collected a couple of new friends along the way, who happily shared my love of cake. I love meeting new people, and it's a perk of the job, when you are a blogger. So there we were, squeezed into a very small bar area, enjoying some rather delicious scones, when one of our party decided to go off and find us all some tea. But what happened next, left me asking myself, was I in the wrong? 

Tuesday, 21 March 2017

Easy Crafts for Mother's Day

Pink Rose Close Up with Title OverlaidMother's Day is the perfect time to grab the glue sticks and get out the glitter, because most mums love their children's handmade offerings. If the very idea fills you with dread, however, I've rounded up the most ingenious and super-simple Mother's Day crafts from some of my favourite bloggers, as well as some from our own archives, to give you some low-mess, fairly quick options to entertain the little ones and delight mothers and grandmothers too. They are worth far more than anything you can buy, and hopefully you will have fun making them too. These easy crafts for Mother's Day, are so simple, even I could do it!

Celebrating World Poetry Day with Viking

The lovely people at Viking asked some bloggers if they would like to have a crack at writing something for World Poetry Day. I love an excuse to write and this was no exception, so I hastily agreed. I had absolutely no idea what I was going to write about until Viking kindly sent us some lovely gifts, to inspire us. The box included a beautiful quill pen, some writing paper and little canvas on an easel. The canvas was so cute and it gave me an idea, which inspired me to write the following poem. I hope you like it and a big thank you to Viking for the inspiration. 


Monday, 20 March 2017

Lee Stafford CoCo LoCo Long Tong Hair Curler Review

Girl with curls and title overlaid
After reviewing the Lee Stafford Academy Ionic Hair Straighteners, which I loved, I was offered the chance to try the Coco Loco Long Tong Hair Curler for free too, from the same company, to see what I thought. The curling tong boasts a 40% longer barrel than a standard tong and I felt this would be really useful for my very long, thick tresses. It's currently on sale for the reduced price of £22.99, which seems pretty reasonable, from a company who make really great quality products, if the straighteners are any indication. My first attempt wasn't a roaring success to begin with, and it took some getting used to, but I put that down partly to my inexperience with curling tongs and my unhelpfully unruly hair. 

Win a Disney Princess Travel Easel Ends 02/04

Disney Princess Travel Easel

Sunday, 19 March 2017

My Sunday Photo: Pokemon Birthday Cake

Chocolate Cake with Pokemon Figures

Blogging, Best and Worst Bits

Old, battered typewriter with title overlaidI've been blogging for four and a half years, which surprises me. It really doesn't seem that long, but I guess that is why I do it. Time moves so fast, and it's lovely to be able to look back at everything we've done. For a long time, I stubbornly refused to monetise my blog, because it was fun having no pressure and just writing for the joy of it. However, in recent times, I have introduced a few sponsored posts and reviews, because the biscuit bill really adds up when you're a blogger. However, I still try to keep the content relevant and the emphasis on general ramblings. Today's general ramblings are all about the best and worst bits of blogging.

Sunday, 12 March 2017

April the Giraffe, a Time-Consuming Tail

Close up of giraffe with title overlaid
I never thought I would become this addicted to a Youtube feed, but I have, so I thought I'd better share the saga with you. Normally it's all Minecraft and mayhem in our house, but, a few weeks ago, I caught wind of an interesting development over at Animal Adventure Park in New York, where a giraffe was soon to go into labour and produce a cute baby giraffe in front of the world via a 'giraffecam'! It doesn't get much more exciting than that, I thought, so I tuned in to watch. Two weeks and two days later (and I was late to the party!) we are all still waiting! It's #AprilWatch, folks!

My Sunday Photo: Lake View


Saturday, 11 March 2017

It's National Bed Month! #ReclaimYourMattress and Your Health!

Child sitting on bed, with title overlaid.
We are a family of allergy sufferers. We snuffle our way through summer, and then, when the heating comes on, some of us even sneeze our way through winter! This winter has been particularly snuffly, and we have suspected many different culprits for the itchy eyes and endless sneezing. Dust, heating, winter bugs, but it was only recently I turned my attention to the beds. I invested in anti-allergy pillows, but they didn't seem to make much difference. I have, however, just found out a wealth of facinating, and, in some cases, a little bit gross, facts about mattresses. In case you were also unaware, your mattress is not the innocent bed-bystander that it would seem.

Thursday, 9 March 2017

Our Weekend Wanderings, Week Nine

Chocolate Gateau slice with title overlaid.
We're late this week, sorry, wifi issues! This is more of a Saturday post, really, but quite a lot happened, so I'm hoping it will still be interesting and no one will mind. A lot goes on in Bristol, there was even a fire limbo dancer! And cake, of course, there will always be cake. It's also more about my wanderings, as I decided I would do something a bit out of character and go totally rogue. Oh yes, you heard me right, I went out, completely unsupervised. So, basically, what I'm trying to tell you, is that the title of this post is a bit of a big fib, really. But, I can't change it, because then it wouldn't be Weekend Wanderings, and anyway, Saturday is half the weekend, after all. 

Tuesday, 7 March 2017

Win a £10 Amazon Voucher Ends 19/03

Win a £10 Amazon VoucherHere's another opportunity to win a £10 Amazon voucher in our latest competition, to spend it on whatever you like! Please be advised that the email address you use on the rafflecopter will be the one I send the prize to if you win, unless you tell me otherwise, so do make sure it's up to date. Entry is very simple and you can enter using as many, or as few of the options as you like, there are no mandatory entries. I have had more than one competition winner who just entered through the free entry, so it shows it can be done! Good luck!

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