Friday, 27 June 2014

Summer Craft Ideas from Baker Ross

We love Baker Ross and always get excited when we receive a box full of crafting goodies to try out.  Our latest box included some brilliant crafts with a summery theme.  There were Flip-Flop keyrings to make.  Sand Art bottles ready to be filled with colourful glitter.  Wooden fish to colour in and some lovely ceramic beach house money boxes to decorate.  There were also some sparkly Deco Pens, which can be used on lots of different surfaces to achieve a sparkly effect with ease.

crafting, kids, summer

The kids were in their element using the pens to decorate the ceramic money boxes and the wooden fish.  Freddy had a lovely time designing patterns and let his creativity run wild.  The Deco Pens are lovely to use.  They are filled with water based acrylic paint, which goes on brilliantly giving a matt finish with some added sparkle.  At £9.99 for a five pack, they are a great product for writing or colouring in on a multitude of surfaces.  A definite crafting essential!

Baker Ross

The Flip-Flop keyrings allow kids to design their own insert to personalise their creation.  Kizzy used images cut from magazines to make some very funky looking keyrings.  She finished off the designs by colouring in the strap using the Deco Pens, giving a lovely end result.  At just £2.88 for six or £10.80 for 24, they would be an excellent activity to do at a craft party.

Baker Ross

The wooden fish have articulated, bendy bodies and are great for even the youngest children to decorate.  Once coloured in they make lovely little tactile ornaments to display.  they are £3.95 for four.

Baker Ross

The ceramic beach house coin banks are really cute and once decorated make a fully usable money box.  The Deco Pens worked a treat on them.  At just £5.96 for four, they are great value too.

Here is a video of the kids in action as they enjoyed a crafting session thanks to Baker Ross!


You can see the whole range and shop for these and other great crafting products at

Thursday, 26 June 2014

Chocolate, Marshmallow and Cola Cupcake Recipe

Here is a recipe for some quick and easy Sweet Treats that the kids will love to help you to bake and then eat.  They can be decorated using any toppings and decorations you like (we've used a swirl of Betty Crocker frosting topped with the limited edition Brazilian M&Ms to give our cakes a BrasiliaWorld Cup 2014 flavour!)  The addition of Cola into the batter makes them very light.

Chocolate, Marshmallow and Cola Cupcakes

recipe, cakes


250 g self-raising flour
2 tablespoons of cocoa powder
125g sugar
1 egg
6 tablespoons of rice bran oil
150ml Cola
50g mini marshmallows
50 g chocolate chips


Mix dry ingredients together in a bowl.
In a jug mix the egg and oil, then add the cola.
Mix the wet and dry ingredients together until just combined.
Fold in chocolate chips and mini marshmallows.
Spoon into prepared muffin cups (try to make sure the marshmallows are all covered with batter).
Cook in a pre-heated oven at GM5 for about 20 minutes.
Once cooked and cooled you can decorate them if you wish.

recipe, cakes

This recipe uses Tate & Lyle Granulated Sugar (currently £1.55 for a 2 kg bag) and Coca-Cola (currently £2.64 for an 8 can pack), both of which can be found on the Morrison's Price Checker, which is a handy online tool allowing us to check price cuts every week.

“This post is an entry for the #MorrisonsMum Summer Recipe eBook Challenge sponsored by Morrisons, which has recently cut prices on over a thousand every day products. Find out more here price checker tool”.

Five Ways to Achieve a Happier You

They say that: "happiness is not a destination, it is a way of life".  But to achieve this state of happiness may well require a little effort by way of setting the tone for each day ahead with a good dose of positivity.  Starting the day well and making small changes to our outlook on life can make a big difference to our overall happiness.

Count Your Blessings

It's so easy to take things for granted, but when you stop and think about the good things in your life, you feel truly blessed.  For me, I have a family who are everything to me.  I have a husband who I am still totally in love with, even after two decades together!  My children are my world.  Motherhood defines me and my children's love validates me.  Being surrounded by the love and laughter of my family is a wonderful place to be.  

Be Mindful

 If you are constantly complaining about the weather, your lack of money or the fact that you're a few pounds overweight, then you are wasting precious time, giving yourself over to pessimism and missing out on the everyday wonders that surround us.  Being mindful of the positive things that are present in the here and now, however small they may seem, helps combat stress and anxiety, opening us up to a happier more content outlook. Just taking a moment to be still and to reflect on these things can be life changing.

Silver Linings

Making a conscious effort to find silver linings in anything that may initially be thought of as a negative is a great way of finding the good in situations.  We can't change the world, but we can change the way we perceive it and respond to it. There are lessons to be learned if we open ourselves up to them.  As Doctor Seuss so beautifully said, "Don't cry because it's over, smile because it happened."

Stop and Smell the Coffee

Thinking of the things that make us happy is an antidote to the stresses and strains of modern living.  But this doesn't mean we should be focusing purely on the big and possibly unachievable things.  Yes. we'd all love to win the lottery or land our dream job, but these things don't happen very often to ordinary folk. Instead, we should take the time to recognise the little sources of happiness that happen around us everyday and appreciate them when they arise.  For me, it's the smell of coffee, the feel of sunshine on my skin, seeing a rainbow, hearing my kids laughter, eating the perfect strawberry, baking a cake, a lunchtime phone call with my husband or reading a good book.  Recognising these little things that make us happy and bring us pleasure, is a great start to achieving a greater happiness.

Spread a Little Happiness

A shared smile with a stranger.  The warm feeling of knowing you have helped someone in need.  Feeling a part of a greater joy. Making others happy can amplify your own feelings of happiness.  It's often the little things like making small talk to the old lady in the supermarket or buying lunch for an old friend that makes us feel good about ourselves and the role we are playing in the lives of others. Random acts of kindness are seldom forgotten, and knowing that we have made someone's day a little brighter is an empowering thought.

How do you go about achieving happiness in your life??

I was challenged by Dorset Cereal to write this post about what makes me happy and how I try to inject happiness into my life .  They sent me some cereals so I could enjoy a good breakfast while reflecting upon the good things that surround me. Even the packaging of the cereals put me in a happy mood, giving me a cheery disposition in the morning. After all, as Dorset Cereals say life begins at breakfast!


Wednesday, 25 June 2014

Get FREE photogifts from McCain #freebies

McCain Smiles and Mini Jackets are currently running an on pack promotion where you can send off for a personalised plate, bowl, cup or coaster featuring a favourite photograph.  All you need is two promotional codes (and a 50p contribution to the p&p).

These photo gifts will make a lovely dinner set for a child.  The tableware is made from durable, high quality melamine and is dishwasher safe at low temperatures.  There are three fun frame designs to choose from, including this sunflower design that I picked to make a plate for Freddy.

McCain, photogifts, freebies

The promotion runs until 2014, which gives us all plenty of time to collect codes to get a full set of personalised tableware.  You could collect some for stocking fillers (it's never too soon to start planning for Christmas!!)

Find out more here:

I received a free code to make Freddy's plate.

The Rockabilly Kids - The Self Standing Kids' Toothbrush


A new innovative idea in kids' dental hygiene is launching into Ocado, Jojo Maman Bebe, Boots and Selfridges. The Rockabilly Kids toothbrushes are a range of toothbrushes that are not only fun and colourful, but are also very practical and more hygienic too.

The toothbrushes feature different characters such as Footballer Farouk,Vet Valerie and Cowboy Clint and come in a range of colours.  Each toothbrush has a detachable head allowing you to replace them when they wear out.  They come with three spare heads for up to a year's teeth cleaning from one purchase.

But the most ingenious thing about The Rockabilly Kids toothbrushes is the fact that you can't knock them over!  They stand on the rounded bases and however much you try and however much they wobble, they won't fall down. This keeps the head away from dirty surfaces, germs lurking on sinks or from touching other toothbrushes in a holder. This is a much more hygienic way of storing a toothbrush ready for use, keeping them away from potentially harmful bacteria.  

Rockabilly Kids

The design of the toothbrush is good for little hands to use.  Freddy uses it really well and likes the feel of the brush in his hands.  It's more robust and less fiddly than a thin handled brush.  The small soft head is perfect for children's teeth.

Freddy loved the funky design and the novelty of its 'Weeble' like qualities.

Rockabilly Kids, toothbrush

I am very impressed with the self standing toothbrush.  Freddy obviously enjoys cleaning his teeth with it and the fact that it doesn't come into contact with potentially germ ridden surfaces is clearly very reassuring.  The replaceable heads are a great idea, allowing you to swap heads every three months, rather than buy a whole new brush.  The fact that each Rockabilly Kids toothbrush comes with three spare heads makes it a good buy.

Keep an eye on for news of the launch.

Freddy received an Astronaut Andy Rockabilly Kids toothbrush to try out for this review.

Tuesday, 24 June 2014

My Kitchen Story - what my kitchen means to me

The kitchen is often referred to as the heart of the home.  Others see it as the room that you are always found in at parties. For some it is the place to sit and natter with friends over a cup of tea.  But for me, my kitchen is the place where I do my best to keep my family healthy through the meals I cook. It's practical rather than cosy, and functional rather than being somewhere to socialise.  I may not enjoy too many evenings spent sipping G&T's at the breakfast bar and putting the world to rights, but I've done a whole lot of cooking in my kitchen!


We have been vegetarian as a family since the year 2000.  My eyes were opened to the old idiom 'you are what you eat' after researching the food industry for health reasons.  I discovered lots of things that I disagreed with from a compassionate, a spiritual and a biological point of view.  I was inspired to make changes, not just to myself, but to my whole family.  So we embarked on a new eating adventure together with open eyes, where our new mantra became 'if it's got a face we ain't eating it!'

With meat, poultry and fish off the menu, I started to find recipes using lentils, pulses, tofu, Quorn, soya and vegetables. I discovered a whole world of delicious ingredients and enjoyed experimenting with them to come up with my own family meals.

lentils, vegetables

As the years went by, my interest in food and healthy eating increased.  We cut back on dairy products, increased the amount of wholefoods in our diet and reduced the amount of refined sugar we consumed. Don't get me wrong, we still enjoy a cheeky Indian takeaway or a big, veggie topped pizza and we love a good home made cake, but on a balance we do the best we can to eat as well as we can. It's not restricting to eat this way. In fact it's been liberating to discover new foods and experiment with wholesome ingredients and bold flavours.

My slow cooker, food processor and spiralizer have become essential kitchen appliances that I use all the time to make food. I love a good gadget and kitchen gadgets are my absolute favourite things. I even have a fondness for my squeezy egg separator that sucks the yolk clean out of the white. I could spend all day browsing the internet for the latest time saving device or humorously shaped silicone cake pan!

vegan, raw, courgette, spiralizer

These days my cupboards are stocked with red and green lentils, coconut oil, Chia seeds, nuts, dried pulses, buckwheat flour and nutritional yeast flakes.  They are unrecognisable from my shelves of yesteryear,  filled with HobNobs, Pringles and KitKat Chunkies.

chia seeds, seed mix, wholefood

There are still some days when I just feel utterly unmotivated to do anything and these are the days when I am grateful for my American style fridge-freezer which I keep stocked with Quorn nuggets, veggie sausages and bean burgers. A bit of convenience food comes in handy from time to time!  Throw in some potato waffles and a can of beans and the kids are fed for the night.

If I ever won the lottery (I can dream!!) I would love a house with a huge, modern kitchen with an island in the middle where the family could sit and chat and where I could spread myself out while preparing food.  I'd have cupboards filled with fancy kitchen gadgets, novelty bakeware and gorgeous crockery. I'd spend many an hour cooking and baking and would serve up plenty of good meals and yummy treats for my family. Of course I would also love the convenience of having a huge and super efficient new dishwasher to clean up all the pots and pans, with Fairy Platinum dishwasher tablets effortlessly keeping everything sparkling clean.  (Failing that, my Ian is an excellent and very accommodating pot wash!)

In the meantime, until my six numbers come up on a Saturday night, I will continue to enjoy my kitchen exactly as it is, and continue to do my best when it comes to feeding my veggie family!

slow cooker, vegetarian

“This post is an entry for the “My Kitchen Story” Linky Challenge, sponsored by Fairy Platinum.”

Soak & Sleep Bed Linen - Affordable Luxury

I don't know about you, but I love a little bit of luxury in my life. This is especially true when it comes to bed linen.  Nothing beats slipping between clean, fresh sheets at the end of a hard day, and when those sheets have a touch of opulence about them, the experience feels even better.  Soak & Sleep (the new name for DAPW) is a company that specialises in selling luxurious bed linen, towels, pillows, mattresses, duvets and bedspreads at affordable prices.  You get to enjoy the finer things in life without the hefty price tag.

I received a Tuxedo Striped Bed Linen Bundle in Stone, which consists of a king size duvet cover, fitted sheet and two pillowcases.

duvet cover, sheets

The bed linen is made from 400 thread count cotton satin, which is thick, silky soft and smooth.  The duvet cover and pillowcases have a lovely subtle tuxedo stripe pattern woven into the top fabric. It is a very classic design which both myself and Ian really like - it's neither too girlie nor too masculine. The material is very absorbent and breathable and feels absolutely lovely on the skin.  It has a lovely sheen to it which catches the light.

Soak and sleep

The 400 TC cotton is an excellent standard with a fine drape, silky feel and good strength.  It is quite an easy-care fabric, which gets softer with each wash and which isn't too tough to iron.  Higher thread counts result in even more luxurious fabrics, but they take more effort to iron. 

Soak & Sleep are so confident of their exclusive products that they guarantee them for 365 days and also offer a price promise against other similar products if you can find better for less.

Soak and sleep
A bit creased from the packaging but so lush.

The duvet has fabric tie-ups to secure the cover in place.  The pillowcases have attractive edging and come in an Oxford design.  The fitted sheet is deep and fits perfectly on my mattress without riding up or pinging off at the corners.  The finish on all products is superb.

soak and sleep

Sleeping under the silky, satin feel cotton sheets is glorious.  They are so soft, but not at all slippy so they stay put really nicely, cocooning you in their satiny softness. They are a real touch of everyday luxury and are such great quality.  Definitely one of the nicest feeling cotton bed linen sets I have ever used!

I am totally loving snuggling up in my bed with my new sheets.  The classic stone colour suits my bedroom decor perfectly, creating a peaceful and relaxing environment. The duvet cover is reversible so you can opt for a plain pattern over the tuxedo stripes for a change.

soak and sleep
Morning Selfie

The king size set I have cost £61.60 for the duvet cover, pillowcase and fitted sheet bundle (with free UK delivery).  You can find discounts of up to 50% across the site, so it's a great time to give your bedroom or bathroom a touch of opulence for the summer.

Find out more at

Monday, 23 June 2014

Watch Them Grow - Gardening with Kids with QVC

Gardening is one of the nicest hobbies that you can share with your children.  They love spending time outdoors and getting dirty, and through doing something productive can learn so much about nature and develop important life skills such as patience and the rewards of nurturing something.  Watching a seed that you have planted grow can be a magical and emotional experience.  According to research conducted for QVC, 90% of adults have fond memories of spending time in the garden as a child, so it is nice to know that by spending time outdoors with your children, you are contributing to their future happy memories.

To help parents get growing in the garden with their little ones, QVC have two fabulous kits: the Little Grower Flower and Little Grower Vegetable kits.  We received the one to grow flowers and absolutely loved the choice of seeds included.  Children will get to grow flowers that look like striped caterpillars, hedgehogs and Mexican hats, as well as the ever familiar and fun to grow sunflower.

gardening with children

The kit comes with a propagator with lid, a set of assorted cell trays to fit inside, four packs of Unwins Little Growers seeds, a bag of compost and a Watch Them Grow booklet packed with ideas, advice and facts.  

Freddy really enjoys being outside and was keen to investigate his Little Growers kit.  The cell trays come in a variety of sizes for planting seeds in, making them useful for different projects.  We opted for the larger sized pots, making it less fiddly for Freddy when it came to planting up the seeds.

QVC, gardening

Once filled with compost, Freddy poked the seeds into the pots.  He insisted on wearing his gardening gloves.  He was very interested in the pictures on the front of the seed packets.  The Asclepias Hedgehog seeds looked really interesting with their hairy round seed pods that resemble mini Mrs Tiggywinkles.  The Striped Caterpillars have pale yellow flowers which are followed by deeply marked seed pods which curl up like caterpillars.  Perfect plants to grow for fans of The Very Hungry Caterpillar! The Mexican Hat plants are very low maintenance plants and reward the grower with colourful flowers that resemble a sombrero. Freddy's school have grown sunflowers, which they have planted out in the school gardens, so he was very keen to tell us all about them!  The Sunshine Sunflower seeds are great for kids to plant as they are so quick growing.  Once they have grown, the seed heads can be used as bird feeders.


Freddy knew that seeds need water to grow and fetched his little watering can to water the pots.  With a bit of luck, seedlings will appear in a couple of weeks time and he will be able to see the fruits of his labour. The seedlings will be able to be planted out once they are big enough to create some colourful displays.  

gardening with kids

The propagator could sit in a windowsill or be put in the garden during this lovely weather.  Freddy is very interested to see what happens to the seeds.  The propagator keeps all the little pots contained together safe and sound, and makes watering really easy.


While we were out in the garden, Freddy helped his daddy harvest the strawberry crop.  We have had a bumper year.  Ian has kept the slugs at bay using beer traps, which has been really successful in keeping the pests at bay in a safe and natural way.


You can order the Little Growers kits from QVC for the price of £17.50 (introductory price £15.72) + P&P.  The vegetable kit contains seeds to grow sweetcorn, peppers, runner beans and cherry tomatoes.

You can download your own copy of the Watch Them Grow booklet and discover some gardening ideas from QVC at

Thursday, 19 June 2014

Children's Books on Review - Dinosaur Beach, None the Number and Love Monster

New to Freddy's bookshelf this week are three lovely picture books courtesy of Harper Collins and Pavilion Children's Books.  Freddy is getting so interested in books now the 'reading penny' has finally dropped and we've been delighted to share these gorgeous books with him.

Dinosaur Beach

Frann Preston-Gannon is the author and illustrator who wrote the lovely How To Lose a Lemur, which is one of our favourite books. Her latest book, Dinosaur Beach, is the simple story of Farmer Jack's trip to the coast.  He's packed a picnic and buckets and spades for a lovely day beside the seaside. The text may be simple, but the pictures accompanying it show that the trip is anything but that, because travelling with him are his four huge dinosaurs and his Dino Dog!  The funny, chaotic illustrations contrast beautifully with the deadpan style of the writing.  The dinosaurs are completely oblivious to the destruction that they cause, but when disaster threatens, they work together to save the day and make new friends.  It's a lovely book to talk about as you read, looking at what is going on in each of the pictures.

children's picture book

Pavilion Children's Books PB RRP: £5.99

Love Monster and the Last Chocolate

Monsters LOVE chocolates, so when Love Monster returns home from holiday to discover a box of chocolates on his doorstep he finds himself in a conundrum.  Should he eat them all himself or share with his friends?  As he ponders this problem he worries that someone might eat his favourite one or that he might be left with the coffee one (heavens forbid!!  Although coffee is my favourite so I'd happily eat it for him!!)  He thinks he knows what to do, but when it comes to the crunch he follows his heart and finds out that some things are better than chocolate!  This is a delightful story that reminds us that following our hearts and doing the right thing can bring us the biggest treats of all.  The chocolatey illustrations are lush and Love Monster is an adorable character that little ones will love! This title joins the other Love Monster books from the very talented Rachel Bright.

picture book, books for kids

Harper Collins PB RRP: £6.99

The Hueys in None the Number

The Hueys love numbers and counting, but they are puzzling over whether 'none' is a number.  To demonstrate the concept of zero, they count things from 1 to 10 then take all those things away to get back to 'none'!  They take readers on a counting adventure with quirky illustrations and humorous suggestions for each number, such as four being the amount of tantrums Kevin throws each day.  The four little pictures of Kevin having tantrums over different things are wonderful!  This book is by the brilliant Oliver Jeffers who has such a fantastic style and such an unconventional way at looking at things, which never patronises his young readers.  At the end of the book is a small passage for the grown-ups so they can learn the history and significance of 'none' as a number and ponder the conundrum of whether nothing can be considered as  a something for themselves!  It's a great, thought provoking, counting book with a difference,  that I enjoyed just as much as Freddy did! 

counting, children's books, reading

Harper Collins HB RRP £12.99

Wednesday, 18 June 2014

YUUbag - much more than just a backpack

A low slung, flimsy rucksack is not a great way for a child to carry around their precious things on their backs. It can damage their growing spines as they offer no support.  So the YUUbag was created - a bag that would be healthy for youngster's backs with its ergonomic design features, as well as being practical and fun.

But the YUUbag isn't simply a bag, it's so much more.  It is a work station in a bag, with compartments and pockets for special things.  It is ideal for travelling, sleepovers, holidays or for visiting grandparents, giving children somewhere to draw, write and play games in a contained space that is just their own.  It keeps everything safe and sound, and you can buy extra accessories to add to the YUUbag, such as a lunchbag, drinking bottle and stationery.

back pack

Everyone who owns a YUUbag can join the YUUclub where they can play online games, earn points and win prizes.  Each bag comes with its own unique membership card.

Freddy received a BUUZ YUUbag to try out.  It came in a super cool 'bugs' design in blue with silver reflective discs on it for safety.  It has wide, adjustable padded shoulder straps and a strap that does up across the chest.  The clasp has a clever little whistle incorporated into the design which is fun as well as being an added safety feature. A zip up pocket and a pouch are built into the sides of the bag.  The straps can be adjusted for a perfect fit and the back pack is carried high on the back very comfortably.


Opening up the bag, reveals an exciting array of storage, featuring elasticated pockets, zip up compartments, a suspended pencil case, a key fob and net pockets.  There is also a padded, pop-up storage basket for storing drawing pads, books or even electronic equipment. The fold down desk section is A4 size, perfect for kids to use to write and draw on. It can be reinforced using the thick card insert making it a good surface for working on or playing games. A little zipped compartment keeps bits and bobs such as  games pieces and dice safe.  An internal poppered section adds stability to the bag.  The bag will fit an iPad, tablet or laptop (up to 33cm). The structured sections keep everything inside safe and sound and well organised, keeping the contents from getting too messy or damaged.

backpack, bag, kids bag

A Fun Pack gives kids a magnetic game of Snakes and Ladders, A4 paper pad, colouring pencils, deskcard, YUUclub membership card and a keyring to use with their YUUbag. It gets children started, giving them some things to pop into the compartments! It sells separately for £7.99 but one comes free in the YUUbag.

YUUbag, stationery

The bag is very lightweight, with a deceptively large interior packed with features.  It is sturdy with a moulded foam shell and is comfy to carry.  It can be attached to the headrests in cars to make an entertainment station whilst on long journeys and it is aeroplane cabin friendly too.

Freddy and big sister Kizzy were both very impressed with the YUUbag.  They both enthusiastically explored all the design features. They liked all the little pockets and pouches and found the pull down desk really handy for creating their own space.  It is so roomy, whilst remaining compact enough for kids to carry independently.  They both want to fill it with things and keep it ready for taking out and about on their travels. Freddy loved the magnetic Snakes & Ladders game that came in the Fun Pack.  It's a great way to improve his counting and number skills.

Perfect for writing and drawing

YUUbag, board games
Great for games

My only negative would be that we found the zips slightly difficult to manage, as they are quite tight around the corners on the moulded foam shell edges. This might prove tricky for little fingers as you need to have the two edges of the zip properly aligned in order to do it up easily. At 11, Kizzy managed it fine, but Freddy needed help. Other than that, the YUUbag is a really innovative idea and something that will keep kids happily entertained and well organised when on the go.  The design is really attractive and it is just so very useful!

RRP £43.00 for the YUUbag for ages 7-12.

YUUkid is a slightly smaller bag with an A5 pull down desk space and is suitable for ages 3-6 and is priced at £38.00.

Find out more or buy the bags and accessories  at

Tuesday, 17 June 2014

New TV Player from TalkTalk

TalkTalk’s YouView customers are about to get more movies and on demand entertainment with their all-new TV player.  It is set to bring even more of the latest movies, hit shows and better functionality to homes with YouView TV.  Viewers can control the budget and only watch what they want to watch, with clear pricing.

From the TalkTalk TV Player you can access on-demand movies and entertainment from TalkTalk Box Office. It now includes more of the latest blockbusters to rent from £4.00 for 48hrs from the comfort of your sofa. New movies are added every week and latest hits currently available include Hunger Games: Catching Fire and The Wolf of Wall Street. So, there is always something you can watch on demand and enjoy a night in with a good movie.

TalkTalk has also made it easier to discover all the channels and movies included in their package, with a new ‘Included Channels’ feature. You can browse the entire library of over 500 movies and hundreds of hours of on demand programmes, safe in the knowledge that all prices are clearly marked and no payment will be taken until the TalkTalk pin number is entered.  There is no danger of the kids accidentally ordering something when playing with the remote!  

Other useful new features include:
  • Powerful search: Find a movie by searching by title, actor, director or keyword
  • Watchlist: Save movies and shows to watch at another time
  • More like this: Find similar programmes to your favourite shows
  • Play all: Press the green button to play every episode in a series back to back
  • Most popular: All your favourite TV shows and movies in one place
  • Currently watching: If you leave a programme half way through, the ‘currently watching’ section will return you to the exact point where you left it
These features make the whole experience more user friendly and efficient, and lets you get the most out of your TV time.

TalkTalk have been making lots of improvements to the YouView service, including adding seven new Sky channels to the line up, so YouView customers get to enjoy all the shows on Sky 1 and Sky Living. Plus pre-school favourites Wallace and Gromit and Timmy Time have just been added to the kids' TV line-up. The TalkTalk Player is faster, smarter and makes finding what you want easier.

The service will be available to all one million plus TalkTalk TV homes by 17 June.

To access the new TalkTalk Player, connect the YouView box to the router and leave it 'on' or on ‘standby’. Once connected customers can press the ‘TalkTalk’ button on the remote control to start enjoying the service.

Go to TalkTalk to find out more or to become a new customer.

Proud TalkTalk Family Blogger

Review Round Up - Breakfast Boots and the e-cloth Wand

Toast Soldiers

If you are looking to add some extra fun to breakfast, then how about serving up your toast soldiers in breakfast boots!  These limited edition boots are from the Federation of Bakers who are encouraging using bread as part of a wholesome, fibre-packed breakfast. Keep an eye out on their Facebook page for the chance to get your hands on a set of boots, when they offer samples again.

Freddy had his morning toast and Marmite in the boots and he said "It is the best thing I have ever eated! And the tastiest too!"  Amazing what a pair of little soldier boots can make to a round of toast!

bread, toast

e-cloth Cleaning & Dusting Wand

I am a fan of e-cloth, the household cloths that clean using the power of water.  This is a quick, easy, safe, allergy friendly, environmentally friendly and cheap way to clean your home.

We received a cleaning and dusting wand to try out, which can be used wet or dry, to clean awkward areas and narrow spaces such as behind radiators, between audio-visual equipment and underneath appliances.

The washable sleeve is removable and attaches to the bendable wand using velcro.  It is guaranteed for 300 washes, which means it will last for ages.  It is perfect for all those tricky, hard to reach areas and is good for removing cobwebs from the ceiling too.

e-cloth, allergy free

It costs £9.99 and is another great product in the e-cloth range.  Find out more at

Monday, 16 June 2014

A Family Day Out at Chester Zoo

On Saturday, with the shine shining, we set off for a family day out at Chester Zoo courtesy of Superbreak.  Superbreak offer pre-bookable fast track ticket and hotel packages so you can enjoy a brilliant day out at one of the UK's top attractions knowing you have a comfy hotel room waiting for you.  Perfect for a sunny weekend or for the summer holidays!

Chester Zoo is easily accessible from Jct 14 of the M56 or Jct 12 of the M53, and is set in 110 acres of landscaped grounds.  It is home to a range of over 400 rare, endangered and exotic species of animals, which are housed in large enclosures.  There are some great exhibits including the Realm of the Red Ape where you can see the family of Orang-Utans at play.  There is also a monorail and waterbus for anyone wanting a more leisurely way to get around and see the 11,000+ animals.

With our Superbreak ticket we were able to jump the queues at the ticket kiosks and head straight into the zoo.  Armed with our map we were ready for our zoo adventure.

zoo, map

As soon as you arrive through the gates, you can see just how well maintained, spacious and modern the zoo is.  There are lots of open spaces, beautifully landscaped areas and well kept animal enclosures.  The paths are well signposted so it is easy to find the exhibits you want to see.  Animal welfare is of utmost importance, and the world class enclosures provide the best environment for the animals to live in, whilst providing some up close encounters for us to enjoy.


There are Zoo Rangers on hand around the zoo giving talks, plus you can watch some of the animals being fed.  A trip to the zoo isn't just about entertainment, it's also about education.  Freddy learned lots about animals and their environments, what they eat and how they live.

Chester Zoo, Father's Day

We headed straight to the Fruit Bat Forest as Freddy was quite keen on seeing the free flying bats.  Being a big fan of superheros, he wanted to feel like Batman in his Bat Cave.  It is very dark in the exhibit and the sensation of bats flying past your head is quite a thrill!  Freddy was very brave and spotted some of the huge Fruit Bats hanging upside down from their perches.  He did complain that they were a bit smelly though!

The Realm of the Red Ape was wonderful.  The brilliant exhibit has lots of interactive displays and information about the Indonesian forest and its inhabitants. The huge enclosures provide lots of space and lots for the apes to do.  We spent ages watching a mother and her young baby play with a sackcloth blanket, hiding themselves and then peeping out.  It made Freddy giggle to watch their antics.  There were also snakes in the exhibit in glass fronted enclosures.  Freddy enjoyed spotting them among the plants and branches.  They were definitely his favourite of all the creatures he saw!

Chester Zoo

Around the grounds are some statues - perfect for photo ops!  The life size models gave us an idea of the size of the Komodo Dragon and a newborn elephant calf.  There is a lot of attention to detail around the zoo with models, pictures and information boards to keep the most curious of young minds occupied.  There was a zoo ranger who was talking to the kids and comparing the skulls of a human with those of some apes.  It is so interesting to see the similarities between us and other animals.  There is also a craft stand where children could make animal pictures using their handprints.  There is an exhibition called Hot Pink Flamingoes - Make Change Not Carbon, which includes a trail around the zoo.  It raises awareness of climate change.  Plus you can learn about UK gardens, bees and birds with Bloom - celebration of UK wildlife.

Chester Zoo

On such a sunny day we were grateful for so many places to just sit and relax in the sunshine.  The grass is all so beautifully kept, meaning there is lots of room for the kids to run around or to have a picnic.  You can even hire deckchairs!

Chester Zoo

Chester Zoo, slushie

Freddy absolutely loved the play areas.  The Fun Ark is a great place for little ones to let off steam and play in the big themed area.  Wherever Freddy goes, it is the playgrounds and play equipment that he enjoys the most, and he was most impressed!

Chester Zoo

Chester Zoo, play area

For lunch we headed to June's Pavillion where we were pleased to find veggie burgers, chips and salad on the menu.  A Family Meal Deal costs £25 and you get 2 adults meals, 2 kids meals plus drinks.  It's not bad value at all and the portion sizes were big.  You get plenty of fresh salad to add to your burger, which was nice.

June's Pavillion, Chester Zoo

The self-service restaurant is very spacious, very clean and has several different counters offering different types of food to suit most tastes.  There are several other outlets and kiosks around the zoo and they even offer a homemade picnic service, where picnics are made to order.  You can even add some fizz to your lunch by ordering a bottle of champagne!

Freddy went for a monkey faced pizza for his lunch, priced at £4.95.  He really enjoyed it and it was freshly baked to order.

Chester Zoo

After lunch we were back to the animals.  The girls all love Giraffes and we spent quite a while simply watching the family of giraffes as they wandered around their enclosure, occasionally stopping for a bite to eat or to scratch their necks on the door frame.  There were some young animals alongside some much larger ones, including one that stood over 4.5 m tall.  There is an enormous height chart on the door to their pen so you can see how tall they are when they walk past!

Chester Zoo

Chester Zoo

By far, my favourite exhibit was the elephant enclosure.  The Asian Elephant herd includes two very young infants, Bala and Hari, who are cousins.  They are so adorable.  The younger elephant Bala, born in January 2013, is such a little livewire!  From throwing dirt to chasing a family of ducks who had landed by the water hole to falling over a log, Bala kept us totally enthralled with her antics. She was so much like a human toddler in her behaviour and her mum kept a watchful eye on her little calf!

Chester Zoo, Asian Elephant, baby elephant

We were surprised to discover that one of the elephants at Chester Zoo is the same age as Ian, and they can live to be 70 years old.  They are such majestic creatures and it is great to know that Chester Zoo have launched the Asian Elephant Conservation Programme to help villagers and elephants live in harmony in India and reduce the conflict between them.

elephants, Chester Zoo

The Painted Dog enclosure is great.  We were privileged to see a family of incredibly rare African Painted Dogs, which are almost extinct in the wild, just after they were fed.  They were very active and had such beautiful colouring.

The chimpanzees were on top form on their island home, but we were a little grossed out by the antics of one of the monkeys who took a rather large interest in his own bodily functions. Someone should let him know that bodily waste is not meant to be played with or eaten!! 

The zebras, buffalo and antelope were all magnificent.  The unusual aardvark and the tapir were wonderful to look at up close.  The big cats were sunning themselves lazily.  Some animals had managed to hide themselves away from view, but on a whole we got a good look at all the animals we wanted to see.

It really was a great day out and we all had a fantastic time together enjoying what Chester Zoo had to offer.  It is such a beautifully kept zoo with so much to see and do.  We didn't get to do everything on offer and somehow missed the Spirit of the Jaguar exhibit completely.  That'll be first on our to-do list next time we visit, because we will definitely go again!

Chester Zoo

Find out more about Chester Zoo at or book a Chester Zoo Superbreak and enjoy a short break with hotel and fast pass tickets!


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