Tuesday, 27 December 2016

Win a £10 Amazon Voucher for the New Year!

Christmas is nearly over. The mince pies have all gone, the sprouts are (almost) history and the waistlines are a teensy bit snug. It's time to start thinking about New Year's resolutions and counting the cost of Christmas. To help you on your way, you can win a £10 Amazon voucher, delivered straight to your inbox to spend on whatever floats your boat. Just a little Rafflecopter awaits you and you can enter as many or as few options as you like, there are no mandatory options. Thanks and good luck! 

Sunday, 18 December 2016

My Sunday Photo: Spot the Cheetah

Landscape of an enclosure with a camouflaged cheetah in the distance.
This week, our Sunday Photo comes from Wild Place Project, Black Horse Hill, which is near Cribbs Causeway in South Gloucestershire. There are lots of animals to see and we are especially fond of the Cheetahs. It's fascinating how they blend into the landscape with their camouflage coats, so L has set you a little challenge, with his photo 'Spot the Cheetah'. There is also a close up, when he finally came out of hiding. They really are stunning animals, although I don't think I would have liked to be any closer!

Friday, 16 December 2016

Christmas Gift Guide: Men (Nightmare!)

Boy holding up beach towel with Cricket references on.
For the last in our series of gift guides, I am tackling that oh-so-tricky subject; The Man. This is the most dreaded Christmas gift to buy of all. It doesn't matter the age of the male, the issue is always the same. If they want something, they want it straight away, so will invariably buy it the second they see it, leaving nothing left for the Christmas list. Or, they don't know what they want and are hopelessly vague and non-commital, so how am I meant to know? Fortunately, I've found some great ideas when I've been out shopping and have also been sent some lovely items from companies who are proud of their Christmas offerings. If you are tearing your hair out for what to buy the men in your family, we've got all the inspiration right here, with our Christmas gift guide for men. 

Sunday, 11 December 2016

Christmas Shopping at B&M Stores Saves a Fortune!

Penguin microwave warmer with title textFirstly, I would like to say, this post is entirely unsponsored. I wouldn't normally say that, as I would tell you if it was, but I want to make it clear that I'm writing this because I am really impressed with the quality and prices at B&M Stores and have saved so much money, that I wanted to share my bargains with you. Let's face it, there are tough times for a lot of people these days, and most of us could do with saving a few pounds this Christmas. The beauty of B&M is that these aren't cheap products at cheap prices, these are quality, brand-name products at cheap prices and there is no way anyone would know their Christmas gift came at a substantial discount. Except my family, if they read this. Ahem. 

My Sunday Photo: Frosting the Foliage

Boy holding huge leaf covered in thick frost.


Wednesday, 7 December 2016

Christmas Gift Guide: Bloggers

Swing arm clamp and camera remote with title text
This gift guide is here to help you with a very important decision; what to buy the blogger in your life. It can be a confusing experience, being the friend, or relative, of a blogger. You may be used to having your face paraded on social media, your food photographed at restaurants and being used as a personal thesaurus when you'd rather be watching the telly, but what does a blogger want for Christmas? I have purchased some low cost items this year that have turned out to be invaluable for all things blogging, and I also asked some of my favourite bloggers for their ideas too. This is our essential wishlist of bloggers' bargains and best buys!

Friday, 2 December 2016

Digital Detox with Time to Log Off and Punkt

White Punkt mobile phone with title textMobile phones and electronic devices have become a way of life for many people and are so embedded in most of our lives that we are barely aware we are even using them at all. Is this having a detrimental effect on family life, though, and are we losing out as a result? Last weekend I took part in a collaboration with Time to Log Off and Punkt, to investigate this very question. The idea of the project was to encourage families to put down their devices and spend more time taking part in activities together over Christmas. In order to prepare for this festive foray into unfettered family life, we were sent a special phone from Punkt, which looked like a really modern, funky version of what was common place for anyone who remembers the 90s. Yes, young people, there was actually a time before every meal was instagrammed and Facebook always knew where you were.

Wednesday, 30 November 2016

The Magic of Bath Christmas Market

Entrance to Bath Christmas Market with title textI have never been to Bath. I had an idea in my head that it was quite tricky to get to on public transport, so I've never got around to it. When I was invited to a blogger event with Visit Bath, to visit the Bath Christmas Market, however, I thought it was time to put on my big girl pants and have a go. How wrong I was! The city is really well served for buses and they run every half an hour from the town centre, and various other points around the surburbs, such as Parkway Station and Cribbs Causeway. The journey does take up to an hour and a half, but at £6.50 for a day rider, it's a very easy, low cost way to travel, with no concerns about parking, either. You can enjoy some lovely scenery, with no traffic worries and know there isn't a huge gap between buses if you miss one! 

Wednesday, 23 November 2016

Christmas Gift Guide: Older Relatives

True Company Light Therapy units and title textIn the third of our Christmas Gift Guide series, I have been thinking about gifts for the older people in our families. Grandparents, Aunts, Uncles, perhaps even neighbours. This is such a difficult gift to get right, because you are talking about people who have lived for quite a long time and so will already have quite a lot of the things they want or need. However, if you are still buying gifts for these people, they are probably very important to you and have most likely been a part of your life for a long time, so choosing a gift that reflects that is not to be taken lightly. If you're completely stumped, hopefully these gift ideas for older relatives will get you out of trouble!

Tuesday, 22 November 2016

Living With Thoracic Outlet Syndrome. A Guest Post by Chloe

A woman holding a baby with title text overlaidIn our occasional series, Hidden Illnesses, we invite guests to talk about the illnesses that effect them, particularly those that aren't obvious on the outside. We hope to help sufferers and their families learn about the conditions and what they can do to help. Today, Chloe, from Life Unexpected, talks about the little known condition Thoracic Outlet Syndrome and how it has affected her life. Life Unexpected is a family lifestyle blog that follows a millennial mum. With posts about world travel, life with a toddler, general parenting and life as a working mum. 


Friday, 18 November 2016

Men's Wood Watch Review with Jord Watches

Men's wood watch, in lidded wooden box with title text overlayedThis year the husband has a pretty big milestone birthday. He has been dropping various hints, such as moaning more and being even grumpier about the weather and other old man-type complaints. This is how we remember that he is getting that little bit older and, with that, comes a problem. Over the years he has collected all manner of male gifts and knick-knacks and each year, we find it harder to think of the perfect gift. I bought him a sat-nav, which he argues with, and a tablet, which just seems to give him better access to the football scores he would probably be better off not knowing about, so this year I wanted to go for something more traditional. Fortunately, along came Jord with a fabulous array of men's watches for me to choose from to review. How serendipitous is that?

Wednesday, 16 November 2016

10 Lies I've Told my Children (republished)

Boy on wooden horse outside, with title text overlayed
When your little bundles of joy first arrive in the world, you probably make the same promises that most new parents do. To love them, protect them, be patient, be kind and an overall perfect parent. It can't be that hard, surely? Look how small and cute they are! There's no way you will ever want or need to do anything else other than gaze at your new amazing creation. Then it happens. They grow. They learn to talk and move around, at speed, in directions you'd rather they didn't. They learn to memorise adverts and the toy pages of the Argos catalogue. Those first few moments of solitude before they discovered the full capacity of their lungs are a lifetime away as you think up ever-more inventive ways to outwit the little angels.

Thursday, 10 November 2016

FInding a Photographer in Bristol with Bidvine

Graphic of the Bidvine App
It's been bothering me for a little while that I do not have a really good profile picture. This might not sound like a big deal, but, being a blogger, I use social media A LOT, and get just a tiny bit jealous of some of the more professional profile pictures I see. Where the lighting is flattering and they are taken from a better angle by someone who has a clue what they are doing. It might sound a bit vain, but when you see your face all the time, as part of your day, you want it to be a good one! So, I've often wondered what it would cost to get a few professional shots done. So, when Bidvine asked me to try out their service, which puts consumers in touch with professionals, it was a great time to test it out!

Christmas Gift Guide: Teenagers

Tiny camera with snowman graphic and title text overlayedOne of the trickiest groups of people to buy for at Christmas has to be older children, who have got to an age where they know what they want and aren't impressed anymore just because it's shiny or makes a funny noise. Once they reach their teens, all they seem to want is tech, tech, tech. Or, clothes with labels that defy the laws of punctuation and grammar. If it's not designer, expensive, or in constant need of charging, it's not going to cut the mustard. Money is sometimes tight, though, so we've put together a list of alternative gifts, that replace the obvious with the imaginative. Because, sometimes, the best gift is one you didn't even know you wanted. 

Wednesday, 9 November 2016

A Guest Post on Tantrums, by Tracey from One Frazzled Mum

When your children get older, like mine have, it's easy to get wrapped up in the new challenges life brings and forget how tricky things could be when little ones roamed the household. Sometimes I think we need a little reminder that the grass isn't always greener and, ok, toddlers don't answer back, or hog the remote, or argue with you about the benefits of having their own Youtube channel, but not being able to formulate an argument brings its own problems. As documented by Tracey, who is guest posting today, from One Frazzled Mum. You can also find her on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. 

Tuesday, 8 November 2016

A Christmas Gift Guide Blog Linky for the Best Gift Ideas!

 Welcome to the #ChristmasGiftGuide linky, the place for bloggers to link up their gift guides and wish lists for the festive season. The 2016 Christmas Gift Guide Linky makes it really easy to get all of your gift inspiration in one place! Mo, from Adventures of a Novice Mum, and I, are hosting this linky and welcome any current gift guides to provide inspiration and ideas for Christmas shopping. The #ChristmasmasGiftGuide linky will be open from Friday 11th November until Monday 5th December.

Scruffs Workwear: Warm and Comfortable Jacket

Lady modelling jacket with title text overlayed
For ladies who do a manual job outdoors, it can be really hard to find hardwearing, comfortable clothing, suitable for the environment you work in. There are lots of options for men, but not so many for women. In fact, and I'm not sure if it might be a reflection on our society, but if you search for 'women's workwear' online, you get an awful lot of results giving options for outfits for the office. Not quite, sexist search engines! So, when Scruffs Workwear offered to send me one of their jackets to review, I was really happy to oblige, as it seems this area of necessary apparel has been a little bit overlooked. Obviously, workwear isn't just ideal for those who do a manual job, it's perfect for dog walking, rambling and other outdoor pursuits where a warm, robust exterior is essential for your comfort.

Monday, 7 November 2016

Boohookids: Review of the New Range

Boohoo has been a familiar name in online fashion for many years. Originally launched in 2006, the website had a relaunch in 2010. Since then, popularity has continued to grow, leading to the introduction of boohooMan in 2013. In October this year, though, boohoo decided to bring fashion to a younger audience and produced a range of children's clothes, with everything you could require to dress your youngsters from onesies to winter coats and everything inbetween. As an online seller, how easy is it to choose clothes, compared to high street stores and how do they compare? We were given a voucher free, so that we could let you know how we got on. This is our review of the Boohoo Kids range.

Wednesday, 2 November 2016

Win Your Christmas Gifts with our Epic Giveaway, worth Over £900!!

This is my favourite time of year. I work hard on my blog and love running giveaways. It makes me happy, it makes you happy, it's a win-win (excuse the pun!). So, here it is, the culmination of a year's worth of blogging, my fantabulous, amazing, awesomely spectacular, Christmas giveaway. Where you can win a £900 contribution to your Christmas gift shopping. I've tried to think of everyone you might need to buy for, to give you a big head start on the most stressful buying challenge of the year. Many of the items will also be featured in our gift guides, which we will be posting and adding to throughout the coming weeks, so look out for those. The Rafflecopter is a bit bigger than usual, in order to support all the companies that have helped make this competition a reality. Here's a rundown of everything you could win. Try to contain your excitement, we don't want the neighbours complaining! 

Christmas Gift Guide: Brilliant Presents for Children

Boy opening Christmas gift with title text overlayedThis is the first of a series of gift guides I have planned, featuring some lovely gifts that I've either been sent to try and have put through their paces, or that we've bought and used ourselves. We will be covering the trickier friends and relatives to buy for, but thought we would start with the gifts that probably get the most spent on them. There are a wealth of options for children these days, certainly if you pay attention to the TV adverts that multiply at this time of year, but what to choose? This children's Christmas gift guide should give you some ideas beyond the obvious and predictable, featuring video showcases from L on his favourite items. We will add to this post as we find more things we love!

Monday, 31 October 2016

A Pertinent Point about Sexual Sell-By Dates!

This blog has always been for parents of all children from little ones, to teens, students and beyond and there are some subjects that are relevant and important, but not necessarily child friendly. So, when I was sent this really funny infographic from Lloyds Pharmacy Online Doctor, I couldn't resist sharing it with you. It makes a very important point, whilst bringing in some humour at the same time. Perfect, for when you have to raise sensitive subjects with your older offspring. You can see the full image by clicking 'Read More', but be careful around younger children, as it may throw up some tricky questions! Check out the website for more information on family matters and sexual health. 

Sunday, 30 October 2016

Holiday Inn Cardiff, A Short (and Curly) Stay

Holidy Inn hotel room with title text overlayed I don't stay in hotels very often, but when I do, my needs are few. It's usually because we are travelling somewhere via the Megabus and need somewhere to stay for the night, because it's too far to go there and back in a day, so a bed is the main requirement. This week, it was just L and I travelling to Cardiff for the DanTDM Live Tour at St David's Hall. We ended up staying at The Holiday Inn, which was a new hotel chain for us and we were interested to see how it compared to some of the other chain hotels we had stayed in previously, such as The Travelodge. When we first arrived, we found a large and welcoming foyer. There were comfortable chairs to sit in and even computers where you could take advantage of the free wifi that was available for guests throughout the hotel.

My Sunday Photo: Leafing a Mess

Boy kicking up a pile of leaves in a park

Friday, 28 October 2016

What Happened on The DanTDM Live Tour

Excited boy in front of Dan TDM tour posterYouTube baffles me. I use it when I want to find a clip I remember that was once on the telly, or, most often, to listen to music. It's like a reference library for the 21st century. Except it isn't. For many people, particularly the younger ones, it's almost like a TV. They have their favourite shows, which they look forward to each day, and, most importantly, they have their favourite Youtubers. Who knew there was such a thing as celebrity Youtubers? With one or two exceptions, I had no idea this was even a thing. So I was amazed to find, when I went to book a stage show for L's favourite Youtuber, that it sold out pretty quickly. Yes, there are stage shows now and this one was actually pretty good. Two things I learned from this event, DanTDM knows his audience and there is a good reason why children love him. 

Win a £10 Amazon Voucher


Sunday, 23 October 2016

Eenie Meenie Miney Moe - The Walking Dead Returns

The Walking Dead Poster
I have been given the responsibility of looking after Lucy's beautiful blog whilst she is at home currently attacking her router with a hammer (or more likely waiting for an engineer) and subsequently internet-less. So I have a little Zombie or should I say Walker related post for you to get your infected bite into: Not for years have I witnessed a show being so popular in such a varied demographic fanbase.

My Sunday Photo: Winding Pathway

Pathway viewed through trees


Wednesday, 19 October 2016

Tips on Learning to Drive

Learning to drive is something most of us have to go through these days, if we want to maximise our job prospects and provide adequate taxi support for our future or current children! It's just getting harder and harder to avoid, with constant cuts to public transport and companies increasingly finding ways to outsource and amalgamate their businesses further away. Like any learning process, it's important to find the learning style that suits you. Some people learn best from practical application, where as others gain more confidence from reading and memorising. There is no right or wrong answer. Jade has recently started having lessons and these are some of the tips we came up with to try and help a bit.

Tuesday, 18 October 2016

Wilko Advent Calendar Review

Wilko 2016 Advent CalendarThis advent calendar review may seem a bit early, but there is a very good reason for that. All the best advent calendars sell out REALLY quick and this one is amazing value, so you don't want to miss out. We were sent one to have a look at and I have to say, it is incredible value for money. The rise in non-food gift advent calendars has really taken off in the last couple of years and now you can buy all kinds of different types, in every kind of price range. This elegant offering from Wilko offers a wide selection of cosmetics, that are a small, but useable, size and contain something for everyone. The best bit about this advent calendar is that because it is so varied in its contents, by December 24th, the lucky recipient will have an entire range to create a wealth of new make up looks for the new year. 

Wednesday, 12 October 2016

Tips for Coping with Working Nights

Sunset with Title Overlayed
With jobs getting scarcer, contracts being flakier and the cost of living becoming an ever-growing struggle to meet, people are having to find smarter ways to make the most of their time. The stay-at-home parent is becoming less common as more and more people are having to juggle work and family to make ends meet. One way to hold down a job, manage a family, and earn a bit more, is to work nights. Night workers are not limited to public service professions and you don't always need to be skilled. You can often earn a premium, though, and there are benefits to your family life too. Here are my top tips for coping with working nights. 

Tuesday, 11 October 2016

Win a Minions Single Duvet Set


How I Halved the Cost of a School Packed Lunch

Cubed cheese in pot, with title overlayedEveryone begins the school year with the best of intentions. Get up earlier, put clothes out the night before, locate all the shoes in good time, remember to read the newsletter, etc, etc. Not all of them will last the term, but there was one aspect of the school day that I really wanted to change this year. The lunch box. My initial thought was to try to reduce the amount of packaging we were using, but there was also an unexpected benefit too. The amount we spent drastically reduced. Happily, even a slightly fussy eater is tucking in just as enthusiastically as he was before and it really doesn't take much longer to prepare, either.


Monday, 10 October 2016

Cooking the Perfect Steak

Steak and Chips with Sauces
My husband and I disagree on many things, mainly because he is often wrong. The one thing he is most wrong about though, is steak. He is a total fillet-philistine. He likes his steak ridiculously well done and can't understand how I can eat it any other way. When he cooks a steak for himself (he's a little kinder to mine!), there is no way of knowing what type of steak it once was. By the time he's finished cooking it, it has all the taste and texture of something you would buy in Clarks and I have spent many years trying to convince him that there is another way. A tastier way. So far though, it has fallen on deaf ears, so I have enlisted the help of an expert. Steve Pooley is Chef Director at Jamie Oliver Barbecoa and knows a thing or two about food. Proving that I am right again, here is the expert's guide to cooking the perfect steak. 

Friday, 7 October 2016

Tips for Helping with Memory

Notebook and Boofle PenI don't really know why I have such a bad memory. I know it started around the time I was diagnosed with Hypothyroidism, so I guess it could be to do with that. It's a real problem, not least because no one gets it. When you say you forget things, the answer you will most often get is; 'Oh yes, me too! I have to write things down, I'd be lost without my notebook/ calendar/ organiser.'  This is a different kind of memory loss, though. The kind of memory issue I have can't be solved by writing things down, because when I forget something, I forget it ever happened. I forget I had the conversation when it was arranged. I forget the arrangement even needed to be made in the first place, and I would certainly forget if, and where, I wrote it down. If this is you, you will know how infuriating it is, but I have found some tips for helping with memory that have made things easier over the years. 

Wednesday, 5 October 2016

Weighing Children in School; A Guest Post

I recently wrote about the National Child Measurement Programme and why I would not allow my son to take part. I received a lot of interest in the post and one of the main comments I received was that people did not realise their children didn't have to take part, or they are unaware that weighing children in school happened at all. This scheme happens in all state-run schools, every year (I'm not sure about Private Schools), but you have every right to opt out. The weigh-in takes place during Reception year and again in Year 6. If you don't receive a form to sign to opt out, inform your school in writing if you would prefer your children to be excluded. 

Tuesday, 4 October 2016

Afternoon Tea at The Grange Hotel, Winterbourne, Bristol

Cake stand with sandwiches and cakesWe bought our Afternoon Tea experience using Virgin Experience Days vouchers and were really looking forward to it. I wasn't sure if it represented the best value, as I paid £39 for what turned out to be about an hour, whereas I spent the rest of the £100 voucher on a spa day for two, with a manicure and pedicure thrown in, but we are all big fans of tea parties in general and it's even better when you don't have to make it yourself! The voucher was originally for two, but I phoned and asked if I could bring L along as well, and if it would be possible for them to include some plain cheese sandwiches for him, as he can be a little suspicious of unknown sarnies, and I wanted there to be at least one he would eat. Otherwise he would soon be full of nothing but cake and I felt this could be a recipe for disaster in a confined space and polite company!

Monday, 3 October 2016

Why is Money Management not Taught in Schools?

British ten and twenty pound notes. Most things in life we are not born able to do. When babies are born, they have to learn pretty much every skill they will rely on later in life, from walking and using the toilet, to rolling their eyes and answering back. A lot of these skills will come from parents and in later life their teachers and peers will have an impact on how they grow and develop. Education falls into two camps; academic, which is mainly school-based, and moral, which often comes from a family focus. It should be a partnership between home and school to ensure that children get a complete education. Learning, not just the three 'R's, but also  how to make good judgements and wise decisions, like the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge are encouraging here in Maria's post from Happy Mummy.

Sunday, 2 October 2016

Win a £25 Amazon Voucher with Lesser Spotted Comper

There’s a new competition website launching soon for UK entrants and this one has a bit of a difference. The launch date is October 5th and the site will focus on Pinterest, Instagram, Low Entry and Local Competitions, giving you an opportunity to easily find competitions that sometimes slip under the radar. There will be giveaways throughout the day on the Facebook and Twitter pages on the day of launch, so it is well worth getting a follow in now, so you don’t miss out. Here’s Sandy, who runs the site, to tell you all about it and introduce a new competition to celebrate the launch!

My Sunday Photo: My Misty Mornings

Thick ground fog around trees

Tuesday, 27 September 2016

Parenting and Trying to Relax

Lady seated by lake, readingDifferent parents face different hurdles when it comes to relaxing. I've heard new parents tell me they can't even relax on the toilet! I've certainly faced different challenges since having a boy, they seem to be a whole different species when it comes to chilling out. Even playing computer games or watching TV seems to involve an element of pent up nervous energy finding its way out. I must admit, I have been known to resort to headphones to get some peace. I use a Youtube audio cast featuring hairdryer noise and it's brilliant for clearing your mind. I know it sounds mad, but it really works.

Monday, 26 September 2016

Hard Surface Cleaner from EcoEgg Review

EcoEgg Hard |Surface CleanerYou may remember, about a month ago, I reviewed the Laundry Egg, from Eco Egg and found it to be a revelation in space, and money, saving household products. So, this month I am having a go with a really intriguing product, the Hard Surface Cleaner from Eco Egg. I had never heard of a hard surface cleaner before, so I wondered what you could use it for. It turns out, pretty much anything, with a few small exceptions. So I set out to put it through its paces. We were sent the Hard Surface Cleaner pack , which is available at a very special price for today only (September 26th) on QVC as Today's Special Value item. You can buy it for just £14.98, which is a huge saving on the standard retail price of £23.54.

Saturday, 24 September 2016

My Sunday Photo: Stalagmites at Bristol Museum

Stalagmites that look a lot like penises

Why my Son Won't be Participating in the NHS Child Measurement Programme

Like all parents in England, when my child started school, it wasn't long before we received a letter informing us that he would be weighed and measured, as part of the National Child Measurement Programme. This was, apparently, in order for the NHS to build an accurate picture of the heights and weights of UK children. Fair enough, I thought. That sounds like a worthwhile exercise to get behind. So I didn't object, and thought nothing more of it, until, out of the blue, I received a letter informing me that my son, who had dressed himself for school that morning in clothes aged 4-5, was in fact, overweight. The 4-5 year old trousers were actually pretty huge and I had to draw the waistband right in.
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