Friday, 24 August 2012

101 Uses for a Nappy Bag. part 2

Part 1, a very long time ago, is here.

Part 2 in a very irregular series.

I'm not talking change bags, they're a whole different set of posts to themselves.  I've never used a change bag as a change bag.  I have a change bag that I use as a normal handbag, and a courier bag that I used as a change bag.  Anyway.  I'm talking about those little slippy green or pink bags for chucking your offspring's dirty nappies into until you can dispose of them properly.

5. An impromtu pencil case when toddlers need to do some colouring in Right Now.
6. Storing jigsaw puzzle pieces when the box gets bashed.
7. Lining the sick bucket/tin.
8. Emergency picnic storage (use napkins as well, they do say on the pack not to use them for food)
9. Storing those skinny little single use hair bands that are the only thing to stay in Squeaky's hair. The plastic packaging disintegrates even faster than she pulls her bunches out.
10. Doogy doo bag.  They're cheaper & do the same job.

More another time.  Maybe.

Is your child a star?

I don't normally reproduce press releases word for word, but this closes today, and it's too good a chance to miss...  Sadly Squeaky's too old, but if your child isn't, and you're free this weekend, why not give it a go?  Good luck!

Cow & Gate, famous for their ‘laughing baby’ adverts, is searching for little ones to potentially be the faces, and personalities, of its brand new advertising campaign in 2012.

Little ones aged between 10 months and two years are invited to enter the Cow & Gate search and show off their personalities for the chance to be featured in the number one baby feeding brand’s television adverts.

All parents have to do is share a video of their little one that really shows off their little personality.  Simply send it before Monday 27th August and parents and children could be invited to meet the Cow & Gate production team. There’s not a lot of time so get those cameras at the ready and send us your videos!

Applicants for the Cow &; Gate search must be available between 27th and 30th August 2012 for a live casting.

Thursday, 23 August 2012

Bleedin' 'eck

We're at it again.  I really thought we'd turned a corner.  But today I got an email from Squeaky Daddy saying that she'd had a mega nosebleed in the car on the way to nursery. Great.  And then when I got to nursery, I found her in a spare t-shirt, because she'd been sitting with some of the other children on the carpet, and had another huge nosebleed.  For once she wasn't even picking it!

Now the second one is probably just a continuation of the first, it tends to go like that.  But we'd gone over 2 months without a single nosebleed, and even that one was tiny and dealt with in moments.  And now we're back to a bleedy square one.  Almost all her previous nosebleeds, with the exception of accidents, have been at night, and judging by the evidence, due to picking her nose in her sleep.   But spontaneous daytime nosebleeds are something new.  I've never (to my knowledge, mum please don't tell the world otherwise!) had a nosebleed, and while I technically know what to do, it's still kind of unpleasant.

Any other secret midnight nosepickers? Or general little bleeders?  Aside from keeping her nails very very short, I'm not sure what else to do.

Saturday, 18 August 2012

Fingerspellathon with the National Deaf Children's Society

We moved house last month, if you follow me on twitter you'll have seen me go through the emotional highs & lows (lots of lows) of the whole house move saga.  Well, moving tends to mean clearing out a lot of old stuff.  Amongst the "stuff" I found was a set of OHP sheets and handouts I created as part of a "train the trainer" course I did in my last job, quite a few years ago.  We had to deliver a 20 minute training session on any subject, to our fellow course students, and I chose to teach fingerspelling.

I've blogged a little bit before about my deafness, and that was a motivating factor in choosing to teach the other students to spell their names using fingerspelling.  At the time, I'd had a few lessons in BSL, but dropped out because of other commitments, but I'd learned fingerspelling long before that, in fact long before I even lost my own hearing.  I remember finding the fingerspelling alphabet in an activity pack from a hotel, airline or something, when I was about 7, and being fascinated by this whole way of being able to communicate without speaking.  I tried to interest my friends in learning so we could talk in class without being told off, but they weren't quite as keen as me to learn something that involved spelling. Ho hum.

Since I delivered that course, I went on to complete 3 years of BSL, and I've got an Intermediate Level 2 certificate, which I'm quite proud of.  I'm probably a little bit rusty today, but given time & practise, who knows?  I wanted to go back and learn properly when I had the time & money to commit to it, as I don't know what the future holds for my hearing, but the thought of not being able to communicate scares me silly.

The National Deaf Children's Society want to encourage primary school children to, well, be a bit geeky like me.  They're organising their fifth annual Fingerspellathon in October 2012, aimed at teaching primary school children the BSL Fingerspelling alphabet, and breaking down the communication barriers between d/Deaf* and hearing children, while raising money to help NDCS's work.

As well as promoting understanding between d/Deaf and hearing children, the Fingerspellathon is a great way to encourage children's spelling abilities, in an interactive way.  It just strikes a chord with some children, as it did me.  d/Deafness can be incredibly isolating, NCDS recently published a study showing that 77% of hearing children didn't know how to communicate with their d/Deaf classmates.  Learning just one way to communicate can break down those barriers, open up friendships, and make school a slightly less lonely place.

Teachers who sign up to take part in the Fingerspellathon receive a resource pack containing posters, activities, lesson plans & worksheets.  And a warm fuzzy feeling.  Some of the ideas that have been used in the past include:

  • Fingerspelling children's names during morning registration
  • Eye Spy: fingerspelling clues & guesses
  • Simon Says: fingerspelling instructions
  • Level Challenges: Learning new words throughout the month, with increasing difficulty.
My students only had 20 minutes to learn, but they all managed to spell their names by the end of the session.  Children are far better at learning than adults, think how much they could learn in a month, and what a difference that could make to their d/Deaf classmate.

Teachers wanting to sign up can do so online at

Free fingerspelling chart courtesy of
Oh, and if you're wondering, Justin Fletcher & Mr Tumble use Makaton, a variation of BSL designed for use  by those with other impairments to their communication abilities, such as cognitive impairments, Downs Syndrome, autism & multi-sensory impairments.  It shares a number of signs, but is not the same language.  You might recognise some of the above letters though.

*d/Deaf is a way of describing both those who were born without hearing, and those who lost hearing later in life. Deaf indicates a hearing loss from birth, and deaf indicates a later hearing loss.  These are terms that are recognised and accepted throughout the d/Deaf community, as there are different experiences and issues faced by each group.  As NDCS aims to help both groups, I am using this term to include all.

Friday, 17 August 2012

Giveaway: Win Customised Cufflinks from Ring Jewellery - ENDED

I love my bling. Let's face it, who doesn't love a little something shiny? Sadly though, since Squeaky's birth, most of my jewellery has been hiding away until the risk of either the shinies, or Squeaky herself getting damaged has decreased, and she's a little bit older. I'm slowly starting to get my rings & bracelets back out into regular wear, and I hadn't realised how much I missed them.

Well, the very kind people at Ring Jewellery got in touch with me, with something very special for one of my readers, and how could I say no? They're a Brighton based jewellers, with an amazing selection of rings – hence the name (I'm seriously in love with these mokume gane woodgrain effect rings), which they will alter for no extra cost. They also produce great titanium and palladium wedding rings.

But as well as rings, they also make customised cufflinks, which are going down a storm in celebrity circles. So if you fancy yourself, or your loved one, as being one of the Cool Kids like George Lamb or Theo Walcott, then listen up.

Image courtesy of Ring Jewellery
I've got a pair of cufflinks to give away, with any design you choose. Seriously. You could have a picture of your children, the cat, or a design of your own making. They'll do all the hard work, and you'll get an amazing pair of cufflinks. I know it's only August now, but what an incredible Christmas present that would be!

To enter, follow the instructions on the rafflecopter form below. Standard terms & conditions apply (see the above tab). Prize draw closes on 01 September 2012, at 05:01am UK time. UK entrants only.
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Thursday, 16 August 2012

Who Do You Think You Are?

Image Credit: 
A few things have made me think recently (unusual, I know).  The Olympics, the Jubilee, and conversations with a few friends have got me thinking about identity, and sense of self.  And how will Squeaky self-identify as she gets older.

We live in Wales.  Squeaky was born in Wales, she has a bilingual birth certificate, and unless we move across the border in the next year (very unlikely, I'm not moving EVER again!), she'll be educated in both English & Welsh.  But she's not Welsh.  Friends have said she's Welsh, because she was born in Wales.  My answer to that, "Jesus was born in a stable, does that make him a donkey?"

Squeaky's Daddy & I were both born in England.  Not all that far apart, as it turns out.  Our parents were all born in England, and when the Six Nations rugby rolls around, I support the team in white (and remind people which team has won a world cup, and which teams haven't).  But have a look at my Flag tags post, and you'll see I'm supporting the Czech Republic, rather than Team GB.  My paternal grandfather was Czech, and until I married, I had a Czech surname.  If I have the option on a survey, I tick European, rather than British.

To be honest, growing up my surname caused me more trouble than I'd care to admit.  When it came to choosing Squeaky's name, I wanted one that she wouldn't have to spell, having spent 29 years spelling my surname, correcting pronunciation, and responding to "errrr, Miss, errrrrrr".   I was actually quite relieved in many respects to have the opportunity to change my name when I got married.  And I chose to do so, I wasn't expected to, or coerced into it by anybody, it was a choice I made on my own.  But since doing so, I actually feel closer to the Czech side of my heritage than I ever did with a Czech name.  The only time my name ever gave me a positive advantage was in going through customs in Prague, when my English named husband and friends had the third degree from scary customs officials, yet they saw my name & waved me through with a smile.

So, what will Squeaky grow up to be?  Will she see herself as Welsh? As English?  As British? As European?  Right now, she thinks she's a princess!

Monday, 13 August 2012

Flag Tags & Win a Limited Edition Olympic Camera! - CLOSED

You might have noticed a bit of Olympic Fever in the air over the last couple of weeks. And even though the flame might have been passed on to Rio for 2016, there's still the Paralympics to enjoy, and yet more incredible sporting prowess (and the chance of a few more medals!)

Well, Panasonic, as one of the official sponsors of the Games, have come up with a really fun Facebook app to let people show their support for their teams, without the mess of real face paints (my white jeans have never been the same since they encountered Squeaky painted as a butterfly!). All you need is a photo, and the rest is magic. Your face, complete with flag, can even be displayed on a giant screen in Stratford! Fame at last! If you're a bit shy, you can opt out of that bit, but why miss out on your moment of fame?

If, like me, your background is from more than one country, you can even choose to have two flags on your face, though I think the single one looks better. Just pop along to (Warning – video & music plays automatically, if you're at work you might want to mute your pc first!). You can upload a picture, use a webcam, or choose one from your facebook albums. Choose your team, or teams, and with a couple of clicks to show it where your face is, you've got your own flag tag.
Supporting the Czech Republic

Here's mine...  You can see your own, and those of all your friends by clicking on the gallery tab at the top of the app. You can get the link to your own picture by going into the gallery and clicking on your image.  Right click on the image pop up & click Copy Image URL, and that gives you a link to your image to share.

The Prize!
So, you lovely people. How would you feel about a camera? THIS camera?   Well, it must be your lucky day, because I've got one to give away to one of my readers!

To be in with a chance of winning, all you have to do is go to the Panasonic facebook page, create your own flag tag, and comment below with a link to your picture, tell me the country/countries you're supporting, and give me a means of contacting you if you are the lucky winner.  (Follow the instructions above to get your link, don't give me a link to your profile pic - if I can't access your flag, your entry won't be counted)

Standard terms & conditions apply (see tab above), entry signifies acceptance of these terms. Entries close at 23.59pm (UK Time) on 8 September 2012, and a winner will be drawn using I will contact the winner within 48 hours of the draw, if I do not hear back within 5 days, their prize will be forfeit and a further winner will be drawn.  Entries are open internationally, if the winner is based outside the UK, you'll receive Amazon vouchers to the value of the camera.

Good luck!

EDIT 9/9/12: We Have A Winner!

After working out the numbers & taking out the multiple comments (don't worry I didn't take anyone OUT, just only counted once), made its selection.

Congratulations to Michaela Britton @YorkshireMumOf2! If you drop me a DM on twitter, or email, I'll pass your details to the PR company & they will get your camera on its way to you very soon!  Thanks to everyone who took part.

Saturday, 11 August 2012

I got an award!

I remember someone on one of the panels at CybHer basically saying your blog wasn't worth much if you'd not won an award (which got a few backs up in my corner of the room, I can tell you), so I was chuffed to be the recipient of this...

The Leibster Award (German for favourite)!  OK, it's not exactly the MADS, or the Oscars, but what the hey?  I was tagged by the lovely, glamorous & mildly barmy Anna at Elanor's Nails, a friend and fellow snooker fan, as well as a nail blogger, and this is a tag & a bit.

For this tag, you need to do the following:
1. Each person tagged must post 11 things about themselves.
2. They must also answer the 11 questions the 'tagger' has set for them.
3. They must create 11 more questions to ask bloggers they have decided to tag.
4. They must then choose 11 bloggers with less than 200 followers and tag them in their post.
5. These lucky bloggers must then be told.
6. There's no tag backs.

Friday, 10 August 2012

Chocolates By Genevie Review

If there's one thing that makes a Friday night complete, especially if SqueakyDaddy's on a late shift like tonight, it's settling down with some chocolates in front of the telly.  So when Genevie, of Chocolates by Genevie got in touch with me & asked me if I'd like to review her products, well, was there any doubt?

My new postman is a lovely fella, and actually delivers before 10 on a weekday, and before 9 on a weekend.  Do you know how difficult it is to leave a box of chocolates in the house when you have to go out to work for the day?  I hid them in one of my super-secret hiding places, and kept them for my end of the week treat.

The first thing that impressed me was how well they were packed for posting, the presentation box fitted snugly into the posting box, marked up with fragile tape, so the postie didn't try to squash them through the letterbox, and the contents were delivered in perfect condition.

Genevie's chocolates are all hand-made, in fact the whole process is done by hand, making, packing, finishing the boxes.  It's a real family business, Genevie's mum, partner, and 1 year old son are all involved (her son is chief taster.  That's my dream job!)

I received the Black Heart 12 chocolate box to try out, and the first thing I noticed, before I even clicked through to the web page with the chocolate descriptions, was that one had a chocolate coffee bean on top.  I love chocolate coffee beans, and coffee chocolates in general.  Though coffee creams seem to be a standing joke with a lot of people (and have mysteriously disappeared from the tins you get at Christmas), I can't resist a coffee cream, coffee truffle, or a coffee praline.  Genevie clearly knows me well, and the Dark Chocolate Praline was top of my tasting list.  Everything that a good coffee chocolate should be.

The lack of a menu was a surprise, but the majority of the chocolates in my box are shown on the chocolate descriptions page linked above.  There's 2  that I couldn't see on the list in my box (middle row, far left and middle row, far right), but that's not a problem, they turned out to be milk & dark chocolate marzipans, another favourite of mine, and a welcome surprise.

I really liked the presentation.  Simple touches, like the almond on the dark chocolate being skinned to give a better contrast, and the fact that the topping details aren't perfectly centred, giving a real hand-made look.  The balance in the box of dark, milk and white chocolates is just about right, I'm not the biggest white chocolate eater in the world, but my mum is, and it's a box we could share happily.  Except I've eaten them, sorry mum!

Chocolates by Genevie are only available in her online shop.  And if your mouth is watering as much as it should be by now, you could pop over and see Sonia at This Mummy Loves and Elaine at Fun As A Gran, as these lovely ladies have each got some chocolates for you to win!  Can't say fairer than that, eh?

Disclosure: I was provided with the chocolates for the purposes of this review. I was not told what to write, and all opinions are my own.  I am not a member of an affiliate scheme, all links provided are for your convenience, I will not receive payment for their use.

Capture the Colour with TravelSupermarket

Travelsupermarket, those nice people who save you the hard work of finding the best holiday deals, have set bloggers a challenge.  They want us to Capture The Colour of our holidays.  If a picture paints a thousand words, then this post must be a short novel!  I don't pretend to be the best photographer in the world, these pictures were all taken with a point-and-shoot digital camera, but they're memories.  They capture moments that I can't hold on to in my head or my heart alone, and take me back in an instant.  None of the pictures have been edited in any way, and are straight out of the camera from some very lucky & special moments.

Can Marca caves, Ibiza.

Amazingly, this is the real colour you'd see.  The caves have ultraviolet lighting in this section, which lights up the water in the three pools (they're not steps, that's water!), due to the minerals in the rocks & the water.

I love this picture, it gives me goosebumps. I can still feel the cold of the underground caves, very welcome on a roasting hot day, while I was pregnant with Squeaky.  We didn't even know the caves were a stop on the tour, and very nearly didn't bother going in. This picture made the walk down a couple of hundred cliffside steps worthwhile!

Neos Marmaras, Sithonia, Greece.

I don't like boats. No, I REALLY don't like boats.  But the only way to see around the rest of the three peninsulas that make up Halkidiki is to get on one.  This picture was taken on a stop in Neos Marmaras, halfway up a hillside, when everyone else was either enjoying a well earned coffee, or looking round some beautiful boutiques.  I was just making the most of being on dry land.

It really captures that shade of blue so common to Greece, the sun blazing down, the whitewashed walls.  All I need is a cold glass of wine for my Shirley Valentine moment.  It's not just me that does that, is it? (Yes, I talk to walls as well!)

Famagusta, Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus.

A location that, not all that long ago, was out of reach for many.  A place of conflict, of contradiction, confusion.  The relics of British and Greek rule remain, but have been changed by Turkish occupation.

This postbox dates back to the reign of King George V, 1910-1936, so there can't be that many still in use in the UK. To find one in Famagusta, and repainted so vibrantly came as a surprise.  It was a stark reminder of British involvement in Cypriot history, and just how different the culture was, to see something so familiar, but not.  I wish I'd had the opportunity to spend more time there.

Wembley Stadium, London

I really had to have at least one Olympic venue amongst my pictures, and what better than the home of English football?  I'm not a big football fan, snooker is more my thing (why aren't I using a picture of a table in Sheffield, I ask myself), but Wembley is awe-inspiring.  The scale of the venue is something else.  Walking out through the tunnel onto the side of the pitch, you can almost hear the crowd, thankfully you can't smell the sweat of 22 stinky footballers. That would be an sensory experience too far!

Santiago de Cuba, Cuba

Quite how the classic cars of Cuba survive the Cuban road network is a mystery to me, but they do.  The owner of this white beauty had just parked up and I had to snap a cheeky shot.  The amazing cars are my clearest memory of Cuba, and I'd love the chance to drive one for myself.

Santiago is a real attack on the senses, an extremely hot, very noisy, busy, bustling city full of people, noise and life.  After a little walk around, we retreated to the comfort of an air-conditioned bar with a cool mojito to watch the world go by.

So, there's a handful of my favourite holiday photos, I've been lucky enough to travel to some amazing places, and I hope you like them as much as I do.

I'm tagging five of my favourite bloggers to join in and capture the colour of their travels with Travelsupermarket, we could win £2000 of holiday vouchers, or one of five iPads.

Esther at Diary of a Bad Mutha
Sarah at Sweet Craftiness
Joanne at The Blunt Truth
Claire at Ninja Killer Cat
and Di at Super Lucky (I'll regret this one, I just know it!)

Thursday, 9 August 2012

Dr Oetker Pizza Review

I've mentioned before that in the dim & distant past of my student days, I used to work in an Italian restaurant, and spent three years of my life when I was supposed to be learning serving pizza to the great and good of Ilkley. Seriously, I served pizza to Richard Whiteley, and assorted people off Emmerdale & Heartbeat.

Despite spending three years around more pizza than is really healthy, nothing's put me off.  That would be impossible.  If anything, I like pizza even more, and I never thought that was possible.  So when those kind people at Dr Oetker asked me to review their Ristorante pizzas, well, I was almost as fast as Usain Bolt!  Nothing was going to get in my way.

I actually sent SqueakyDaddy to the supermarket to pick my pizza up, we've just moved house and I was in the middle of some very important rearranging of the kitchen cupboards.  Back he came with the pizza you can see over there to the right.  Out of the whole Dr Oetker range, this is my number 2 favourite, only beaten by the sheer level of garlic in the Funghi.  This one though, has garlic, mushrooms, ham & at least 2 different sorts of pepperoni.  That's a list that makes me, and Squeaky, very happy indeed.

I cracked open the box, popped the pizza into the oven from frozen, went away for a few minutes, and came back to a beautiful sight (and smell).  I'm still getting used to our new oven, so it was more of a miracle than you'd expect that I didn't burn it.  Straight onto the shelf, so the pizza cooks from top & bottom, and it came out beautifully crisp, with the most intense pepperoni smell imaginable.

I tucked in, and if the smell was good, the taste was better.  Some pepperoni pizzas can be kind of bland, the pepperoni just greasy discs not tasting of much.  That's definitely not the case with this one!  Not overwhelmingly hot, but enough of a kick to know it's there, a nice little tingle on the lips, and a smoky peppery flavour.  The mushrooms & ham add some balance, and there's plenty of cheese and tomato as well.  A really generously topped pizza, and as you can see, pretty evenly distributed topping, it wasn't all over the one side leaving big bald patches.

Pepperoni pizza was one of my biggest cravings while I was pregnant with Squeaky, and I think something must have crossed the placenta, because pizza, and pepperoni pizza in particular, is pretty much her favourite food.  Sadly that means I have to share.  But as you can see, she loved it just as much as me.  It's not the greatest photo in the world, but just look at that cheese!  If nothing else, you know there's a generous cheese topping!

I've never met a Dr Oetker pizza I didn't like, and at around £2.70, depending on your supermarket, they seem good value for money.  The Ristorante range are thin & crispy bases, and the newer Casa Di Mama have dough that rises from frozen for a deeper base.

Dr Oetker pizzas are available in the frozen food section of most major supermarkets.  And right now they're on special offer in at least 2 of the big supermarkets.

Disclosure: I was provided with a voucher to purchase a pizza for the purposes of this review.  I was not told what to write and all opinions are my own.  Links are provided for your convenience, I am not a member of any affiliate scheme and will not receive payment for their use.

The LOLS of blogging

I've recently changed my email address for contacts from my blog.  My old one's still in use, so if you've got that, you still get me, but I have a new "just-for-blogging" email account.  And today it received it's first piece of spam.

The fact the name of the sender, and the name they claimed to have in the body of the post was a giveaway, as well as the obviously not-native-speaker use of English.  But they were offering to write me a guest post about keeping zombies at bay.  I'm tempted.  I really am.  If only they were writing in half decent English.  In fact, I might write my own post about the forthcoming Zombie Apocalypse, maybe?

It makes a change from the spam commenters, who are getting progressively less relevant.  Don't ask me how to buy a house in California on a post about hair dye!  I neither know or care, try a real estate forum.

Spammers are stooopid

Sunday, 5 August 2012

Kelly's Of Cornwall Ice Cream - Review

It's a hard life, this blogging malarky.  I mean, who would want to have to eat ice-cream to review it?  You would?  Me too!  That's why I jumped up and down like a crazy being when I got the chance to review Kelly's of Cornwall ice-creams.  Kelly's is the only genuinely Cornish ice-cream available across the UK (Mummy Mandy, are you reading this?), made in Cornwall, with Cornish clotted cream and Cornish milk.  It couldn't get much more Cornish if there was a pasty on top!

Kelly's are going all out for a fabulous British summer with two fruity flavours: Clotted Cream & Blackcurrants, and Clotted Cream & Strawberries.  I hit the shops, but my local supermarkets didn't have the Blackcurrant one (I'm sure I saw it a couple of weeks ago, it may well have sold out), so I snagged a tub of the Clotted Cream & Strawberries, and as a little treat to myself, some Clotted Cream & Honeycomb.  I've never seen the honeycomb flavour before, and I fancied something a bit different.  Squeaky and her Daddy are much more likely to dig into the strawberry flavour, so the honeycomb is all mine!

It sounds an odd thing to say in the first bit of the review, but I thought it was great to see ice-cream in a traditional style tub.  The sort you remember from childhood.  A tub that can be reused, and reused and reused to store treasures, birthday candles & baking equipment, and fits far better into the freezer than these fancy schmancy cardboard rounds that certain premium brands seem to favour.

The tubs being a little bit more rigid turned out to be for a good reason.  All that clotted cream and milk makes Kelly's ice-cream a touch softer than average, making it easy to scoop and eat, but wouldn't work well in a soft sided tub.
Everyone takes this photo, I know.  
After the obligatory giggle at the cleavage-style look of the ice-cream in the tub, it was time to get on with the difficult task of eating it.  Shame!    I teamed the strawberry with a handful of fresh raspberries that wanted
using up, and tucked in.  The ice-cream was a softer flavour than I was expecting, smooth and creamy and tasting of proper strawberries (with big pieces too!), not too sweet.  Like a bowl of strawberries & cream, only frozen and fluffy.  Definite winner from me.  Squeaky liked the ice-cream itself, once she got over the fact that it wasn't a Peppa Pig lolly, bit was a little less sure about the strawberry pieces.  She's a bit finicky like that.  Once I fished them out, she was a happy girl.

The honeycomb, well, I forgot to take a photo, and ate it all!  Sorry.  The "boobs" picture above is of the honeycomb flavour, and as you can see there's pieces of honeycomb, and swirls of golden honey flavour in the ice-cream.  This was quite a bit sweeter than the strawberry flavour, but not overwhelmingly so.  I'm not sure in a blind taste-test I would be able to say it was honeycomb, but that's partly because it's real honeycomb, and not the fake stuff they use in chocolate bars.  (Bear in mind, if you have a child under one, they shouldn't have honey, so this isn't one for the littlies.  It's too nice to share as well!)

Kelly's of Cornwall is a definite hit in our household.  I'll be keeping my eyes open for the rest of the range, I want to try the blackcurrant now.

Kelly's of Cornwall is available in most supermarkets, prices £3.99 for a 1 litre tub (though I've seen offers in Tesco & Asda for some of the range recently.)

I was provided with vouchers to purchase the ice-creams for the purposes of this review.  I was not told what to write, and all opinions are my own.  Links are provided for your convenience, I am not a member of any affiliate scheme and will not receive reward for their use.

Saturday, 4 August 2012

Olympic Moments

I've got a confession to make.  Before the start of the Olympics I really wasn't bothered.  I still think the torch looks like a cheese grater with a gas lighter in the middle of it.  We went to the local round of the torch relay, and I was distinctly underwhelmed.

However, we had tickets for the football in Cardiff last week, and against my better judgement off we went with Squeaky in tow.  A two year old.  At a football match.  No, lets be accurate, TWO football matches.  We applied for the tickets in the very first ballot, and picked the session on 1 August because there were two men's matches & in my words at the time "with 2 matches, you stand half a chance of one decent team". We were made up when it turned out that the second of our matches was Team GB.  We actually saw Mexico vs Switzerland and Team GB vs Uruguay.

I was still muttering about whether this was really a good idea even on the train to Cardiff.  The "vital information" that London 2012 emailed to me last week said that you absolutely, positively MUST allow at least 2 hours before the ticketed start time to get in.  That might apply to the events in the Olympic Park, but really, for the Millennium Stadium it was overkill of the highest order.  They've hosted things before, there's no distance to trek, an hour would have been too much.

However, getting there two hours in advance meant we had plenty of time to soak up the carnival atmosphere.  I don't know if it was a result of it being the Olympics, or because Mexico were one of the teams playing, but it really was an incredible atmosphere out on the street outside the stadium.  People in Mexican dress, all sorts of other fancy dress costumes, tv and radio reporters talking to people, singing, dancing, crazy people dressed up as comedy referees.  The roads around the stadium were closed off to traffic, with the exception of the team buses, which were lead in by a pair of beautiful police horses.  I could see through the windows of the coaches to the players, but a photo of a bunch of bored footballers with headphones on doesn't make for great blogging moments.

Even the police were happy to pose for photos, and I was quite impressed that Squeaky didn't announce "Me really scared" when we went over to the horses.

Once through baggage checks, and into the stadium, we grabbed a quick (and expensive) drink, and settled down into our seats.  The Millennium Stadium is pretty good, but I've got a few suggestions.  I've been a couple of times before, but I still find it difficult to find my way around as the entrance doors listed on our tickets were not the ones closest to our seats & we had to walk quite a way around.  To be honest they could do with a few (dozen) more bars & food service areas, as the queues were absurd, and a few more toilets for the same reason.  I was also a little unimpressed to find that the baby-change rooms were used by staff to store their belongings, which meant that a room big enough to be used by 4 or 5 parents at the same time, and designated for breastfeeding, could only be used for 1 nappy change, and no breastfeeding facility was available if needed, or at least not in the area we were seated in.

I'm still not a massive football fan, I have to admit, but it is a much better thing to watch in person than on TV.  It's a lot more "real", I don't know, it's hard to describe.  Have a couple more photos...

Mexico (L) vs Switzerland (R)
Team GB (L) vs Uruguay (R)
The atmosphere was very different between the two matches.  There were a lot of empty seats during the first match, and I got the impression that quite a lot of the crowd were people who wouldn't normally go to football.  It was all very calm & polite.  Then on came Team GB.  And in came the football fans who had spent a couple of hours warming up in the way that they do best (there's branches of Wetherspoon's opposite two of the main gates)  The volume went up a hundredfold.  It was still friendly, but not quite the same.  Squeaky had had enough by this point, and fell asleep on me five minutes into the first half, and only woke up when Team GB scored right on half time.  That was my cue to take her home, as the trains run hourly, and I wanted to get her home safely.  SqueakyDaddy stayed for the second half, and the later train was very very full, so I made the right choice.

I'm finally getting into the Olympic spirit (Mo Farah is running as I type this), and I'm really glad I went.  I probably won't go to another football match, and unless Squeaky grows up to be an athlete, I'm not likely to attend another Olympics, but we went, and it was a great experience.

I was not sponsored to attend this event. I paid for my own tickets, and have not been asked to write this.  All opinions are my own.

Good Natured Salads - Review

Despite what the weather would have you believe, the calendar definitely says it's summer at the moment.  And when summertime rolls around, then the healthy food comes out.

The kind people at Good Natured Salad offered me the chance to try out some of their salad range, so I popped to the shops, and came back with a punnet of Tantalising Baby Plum Tomatoes & a Cool Cucumber.  The range also includes Perfect Peppers, , Awesome Aubergines and vine tomatoes, but they didn't stock them at my store.

Good Natured don't use pesticides, they use good bugs to keep the bad bugs away, which means that their veggies are pesticide residue free, and the way nature intended.  The natural theme was kept going with the tomato punnet being made from cardboard (and easily recycled), rather than the more usual plastic.

Now, while my thoughts may turn to salad, I'm a carbosaurus at heart.  No Carbs, No Comment.  So my salads tend to lean towards the pasta-y side.  After munching my way through a handful of tomatoes waiting for the water to boil, I added some pasta, basil & cheese to my toms & cuke, and made myself a bowl of salad.  What you can't see, despite my best attempts, is that I took my cue from the veggies, and used tricolor pasta, just for the pretty colours.

The tomatoes are fab.  I tend to buy baby plum tomatoes anyway, they've got so much more flavour, but these were beautiful, plump & juicy.  And tomatoes are full of lycopene, which helps protect your skin from the sun.  If we ever get any, that is!  And they're so sweet, even the veg-phobic Squeaky managed to eat a couple! (Too fast for me to record the moment for blogging posterity, I'm afraid)

I'm not quite sure what to say about the cucumber.  It's a cucumber. If it tasted of anything much, it wouldn't be.  It was crisp and chopped up well, and bright green & white like a cucumber should be, but they're sort of hard to get excited about.

I was a bit sad that I didn't get to try out the peppers. I do like a nice pepper in my salad, they add a good bit of flavour & crunch, as well as being chock-ful of vitamins.  I once knew a girl who ate them like apples, but I prefer to leave them in rings, or turn them into pasta sauce.

I'm still a little bit puzzled by the inclusion of aubergines in a salad range.  Can you even eat aubergines raw? They're certainly in a different bit of the supermarket when I look.  I'm not arguing with aubergines, I love them, but they don't scream salad to me.  And I would have liked to see a salad leaf of some sort in the range, I'm a traditional girl at heart and I like a bit of lettuce in my salad.

Good Natured Salads are available in selected Asda stores.  And if you look carefully at the photo above, you'll see that there's a competition on the packs right now to win a holiday with Featherdown Farm!  If that doesn't attract at least a few eyes, I don't know what will!

EDIT: I just finished up the tomatoes today, and took the plastic off to separate for recycling.  Then I noticed on the back that Good Natured have a few farms across the UK, including one in the Rhymney Valley, South Wales.  And that my tomatoes had actually come from that farm.  This is something I've seen on eggs a few times, detailing exactly where the food has come from, but I'd not seen it on veg before.  The Rhymney Valley is the next valley across from me, less than 10 miles away (even less from the Asda I bought them from), so my food miles are looking really healthy, and I feel great that I've supported local farmers.

I was provided with a voucher in order to purchase items from the Good Natured Salads range for the purposes of this review. I was not told what to write and all opinions are my own.  Links are provided for convenience, I am not a member of any affiliate schemes and will not receive any reward for their use.