Teaching an old dog new tricks!

I realised the other day that I had done nothing for myself, as in ’me time’ in seven years, yes you read that correctly, seven years – shocking isn’t it!!  Basically pre marriage and kids.  So this obviously required immediate correction.

I had spotted a sewing course for free machine embroidery on another blog and decided this would be just the thing to get the ‘Me Time’ ball rolling.  So my husband was informed that he would looking after his kids for two days and a night (for the first time ever!) and I arranged to attend the course with my Auntie.

It was fantastic, a full day of sewing, learning a great new craft (which I will continue), eating lovely home made cake and generally relaxing.  I did manage to produce a finished article of my own design no less – a family tree cushion – see pics!  And would highly recommend the course if you fancy a great day of sewing – get in touch with Lara Sparks.

How men amuse themselves in Tescos!

My friend sent this around by email and it did make me laugh, so I thought I would pass it on to you – obviously I don’t know if it is true or not!



Proof of what can happen if a wife or girlfriend drags her husband or
boyfriend along shopping

This letter was actually sent by Tesco’s Head Office to a customer in
Oxford :

Dear Mrs. Murray,

Whilst we would like to thank you for your valued custom and use of the
Tesco Loyalty Card, the Manager of our store in Banbury is considering
banning you and your family from shopping with us, unless your
Husband stops his antics.

Below is a list of his actions over the past few months all verified by
our surveillance cameras:

1. June 15: Took 24 boxes of condoms and randomly put them in people’s
trolleys when they weren’t looking.

2. July 2: Set all the alarm clocks in Housewares to go off at 5-minute

3. July 7: Made a trail of tomato juice on the floor leading to feminine
products aisle.

4. July 19: Walked up to an employee and told her in an official tone,
‘Code 3′ in housewares….. And watched what happened.

5. August 14: Moved a ‘CAUTION – WET FLOOR’ sign to a carpeted area.

6. September 15: Set up a tent in the outdoor clothing department and told
shoppers he’d invite them in if they would bring sausages and a Calorgas

7. September 23: When the Deputy Manager asked if she could help him, he
began to cry and asked, ‘Why can’t you people just leave me alone?’

8.. October 4: Looked right into the security camera; used it as a mirror,
picked his nose, and ate it.

9. October 10: While appearing to be choosing kitchen knives in the
Housewares aisle asked an assistant if he knew where the antidepressants

10. November 3: Darted around the store suspiciously, loudly humming the
Mission Impossible’ theme.

11.November 6: In the kitchenware aisle, practised the ‘Madonna look’
using different size funnels.

12. November 18: Hid in a clothing rack and when people browsed, yelled’

13. November 21: When an announcement came over the loudspeaker, assumed the foetal position and screamed ‘NO! NO! It’s those voices again.’

And; last, but not least:

14. November 23: Went into a fitting room, shut the door, waited a while;
then yelled, very loudly, ‘There is no toilet paper in here.’


Have you got any stories to add to this list?  If you do, please comment!

Camping or Glamping?

This year we had decided we needed a proper holiday (both exhausted) so it would be two weeks of relaxation and beautiful sunshine in Portugal, but then recently reality kicked in!  I run my own business and my husband is a firefighter, so his self employed second job is important income – the holiday would cost a fortune and we would also lose income.  Coupled with the fact that we have just had a break in, so were concerned about security while away.  This mixture made the prospect of a sunny break seem far from a relaxing get-away, so we reluctantly decided to scrap the idea.

So we are going to join the thousands of others camping here in the UK and do it properly, as in empty the contents of your house into your car and set it up in a field.  The kids (2 girls – 3 and 6 years old) are very excited by the prospect, me and my husband not so much, but we are hoping to get bitten by the camping bug and become converts.

Attempts at a compromise in camping have been made twice in recent years in the form of ‘glamping’, which was fun but expensive and it rained during both holidays.  Had it been normal camping we could have just chucked the tent and contents in the car and gone home, however we had to stick this out cause of the money involved.  Having said all that, I would highly recommend the glamping holiday that we went on, it was with Featherdown Farms.  We have been twice, taking friends along last year, they enjoyed it so much they are going back again this year.  As you can see in my holiday pic, you get a ready made canvas house with flushing toilet, table and chairs, woodburning stove for heat and cooking, sink with running cold water and best of all proper beds with duvets!

So the preparations have begun and we now own the tent, chairs, sleeping bags and are looking for bargains on all the other kit.  We have started researching campsites – if you know of any good ones, please do let me know with a comment.

Our first foray into camping will be with a festival though (doing it in style!!) and we are so excited.  We are off to Latitude for a weekend of fun – I can’t wait for Belle & Sebastian and Florence and the Machine.

Anyway, what is your style – camping or glamping?  Oh and please do let me know your camping tips, if you have already been bitten by the camping bug.

Best gift ever – what's yours?

I was thinking about gifts as I had so many birthdays to buy for, but this time it was about the gifts that I myself have been given and what a lucky girl I have been. 

It got me wondering about the best gift that I have ever received and I have had some lovely ones, but the one that beats them all (even the diamonds!) was my Mothers Day gift in 2009.  My gorgeous (then 5 year old) Sophie presented me with a decorated shoebox and when I looked inside I was shocked to find that it was absolutely crammed with letters, pictures and crafted items, which she had made especially for me and in secret so she could surprise me. 

All had kisses and messages of love and I absolutely sobbed my way through each and every one of them.  She looked so proud that she had managed to surprise me and also made me soooo happy – bless her.  It is now safely stored at the top of my wardrobe and I take it down and look through it when I am having ‘one of those days’. 

So, what is the best gift you have ever been given, I would love to know?

The Island – by Victoria Hislop

I read this book – The Island by Victoria Hislop - whilst on holiday in August this year and have to be honest, I probably wasn’t the best of company once I had got past page 5, as I simply could not put it down.  It is a fabulous read, which hooks you almost immediately and continues with twists and drama through several generations of family history, love and loss.  I normally read the usual chick lit that doesn’t involve too much brain power or concentration but bides the time when lazing in the sun, but this book (recommended to me by my Mum) is definitely in a league of its own as far as holiday reads are concerned and I would HIGHLY recommend you give it a go.

Goop – Words from Gwyneth

Gwyneth Palthrow has decided that the time has come to launch herself as a lifestyle guru and her new site – www.goop.com – is live and due to start on Thursday.  If you want to receive her words of wisdom on all subjects - Make, Go, Get, Do, Be, See - then sign up and you should get her thoughts and advice in your inbox from Thursday onwards.  Her moto is Goop, nourish the inner aspect.  I, for one, am looking forward to hearing what she has to say! 

Holidays in the English Countryside

In an attempt to be more organised and also to avoid a last minute panic, I have booked a little break for me, hubbie and the two kids for next year. It seems that as soon as your children reach school age, and you have to holiday outside term time, the bun fight for deals and availability begins. We decided to holiday in the UK next year as the children are small, so as long as there is some fun to be had, why suffer a journey by air?

Last year we had a holiday at a Feather Down Farm and it was fantastic, so as my youngest is nearly two, we decided that it would be the perfect place to return to next year. I can highly recommend the Feather Down Farm concept, which was brought to the UK by the man who invented Centre Parcs.  We stayed at Manor Farm in Hampshire and that is where we are returning, as the tents overlook the pig pen, apple tree, hen house and various animals roam around the field.  We had chickens and even a sheep as visitors in the tent, which saved sweeping the floor after breakfast!  Hopefully, we will be lucky with the weather again, but I suggest you take a look as it is a ‘luxury’ way to attempt real camping, particularly if you have children.

Jamie Oliver’s Ministry of Food

I watched the first episode of Jamie Oliver’s new television campaign last night on Channel 4, called Ministy of Food.  He is concerned about the ever growing health and in particular obesity, epidemic which we have here in the UK and has decided that he is going to do something about it.  He wants to bring back the concept of the Ministry of Food, which the Government started during World War II, where officials tried to teach the public how to cook and get the best from the ingredients available.

The project is aimed at adults learning and then passing on what they have learnt to at least two other people, and so on until it spreads over the UK.  However, it got me thinking about teaching children to cook and I believe that it is an activity to be encouraged as kids at a young age on view it as a chance to make/eat something tasty and also completely trash your kitchen!  I always find that my children (aged 5 and nearly 2) will eat anything that they have been allowed to make themselves, but you will of course need to kit them out with a decent apron, so only the kitchen requires clearing up.

This is a recipe for Chocolate Fridge Cake that we enjoy making:-

250g/8oz digestive biscuits
150g/5oz milk chocolate
150g/5oz dark chocolate
100g/3½oz unsalted butter
150g/5oz golden syrup
100g/3½oz dried apricots, chopped
75g/2½oz raisins


1. Use cling film to line a 20cm (8in) shallow, square-shaped tin. Leave extra cling film hanging over the sides.
2. Bash the biscuits into pieces using a rolling pin. (Put them in a plastic bag first so they don’t go everywhere!)
3. Melt chocolate, butter and golden syrup in a heatproof bowl set over a pan of simmering water. Stir occasionally.
4. Remove the bowl from the heat and stir in the broken biscuits, apricots and raisins.
5. Spoon the mixture into the tin. Level the surface by pressing it down with a potato masher.
6. Leave to cool, then put the chocolate mixture in the fridge for 1-2 hours to set.
7. Turn out the cake and peel off the cling film. Cut the cake into 12 squares and enjoy!

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