What to buy older teenage boys for Christmas

I’d like to think this is a gift guide with a difference!

First of all, anything I have suggested here I have bought my teens through the years or I know of friends who have bought their boys similar. Secondly, none of it has been sent to me to be promoted, so any companies I mention here I have actually used or bought from them over the last 7 or 8 years.

I also think that teen boys are much harder to buy for than girls ( probably because I don’t have girls but I would imagine with clothes, perfumes and makeup and jewellery most things can be covered and they are so expensive too so a designer item could certainly be covered as a main Christmas present!) and I appreciate I could totally be wrong about this, but I have only experience in buying for boys in this house and so I think that is where my expertise lies.

I also do not like giving my boys money! That’s just a personal choice I make and I also think they like it that way. Any family members who buy for them instead give them money so they always have cash to put towards something more expensive in the sales. We also aren’t the type of bargain hunters that go out first thing on Boxing Day to buy stuff in the sales either (again our personal choice). Therefore, I like to buy my boys things I know they want as a main present and then fill it out with the usual extras like, underwear, t-shirts, books, cd’s or films etc. That way we all still enjoy a chilled out morning with everyone opening their pressies etc as we did when they were little – and again they love it that way! Keep on Reading!

So, what’s next for Mrs B?

I’ve certainly been asking myself that for a while now. I’m a mum of 2 boys but they are now 20 and 17 (almost18), finding their own independence, as one is at uni and the other is at 6th form and also working a part time job. I have been married for 24 years and my hubby is a shift worker so that means I now spend the majority of my time alone! Due to my illness and chronic pain I’m no longer able to work a conventional job (I was a driving instructor), but I’m lucky that blogging and running social media accounts can be done in pj’s even on a bad day if necessary.

Yet when the boys where younger my life was busy (illness or not) with after school clubs, kids parties, meeting up with friends in the holidays etc, and although I am still officially a taxi service, a cook and a bank, my life is much more subdued. That in itself gives you time…………………..LOTS of time! Time to ponder and think about your own role in life. Yes I am still a wife and a mum but I am also ME. So, with 48 looming very quickly (and my hubby turning 50 last year!) I am starting to think about my time. How do I want to spend my time now my kids are off doing their own thing most of the time? Read more

Phobophobia, The Ventriloquist Nightmare Show at the London Tombs

Last week I had the bizarre pleasure of visiting the opening of the Phobophobia , The Ventriloquist Nightmare show at the London Tombs. I hadn’t been at the tombs before and to be honest I wasn’t sure of what to expect, however, this show has been put together especially for the half term and in particular the run up to Halloween.

Now I love my ‘jump scare’ horror films and to be honest any sort of horror film, as does my teen son, but that does not mean that I wouldn’t be scared. My husband does not ‘do’ horror in any way and looking back I cannot believe I actually got him to go first in our group when we entered!

The evening started with drinks ( which were definitely needed before entering the show) and socialising with large reptiles, so look away now if you do not like snakes……….

This is me after a glass of wine pretending to be brave!
This is me after a glass of wine pretending to be brave!

Everyone had been given a group number when they came in and we ended up in the last group of the night………………..possibly not the greatest thing as our anticipation grew seeing others coming out looking less than calm.

Anyway, when it was our turn we were ‘welcomed’ in by this rather interesting ‘doctor’….


Then after his little welcoming chat where he talked about ‘The Master’ a lot we were left to navigate the route on our own……………………yes that’s when I totally pushed my husband to the front and made him go through first! We only had six of us in total in the group which meant that whenever anything happened, or when someone jumped out or chased us ( I kid you not!) it actually meant we were all affected……………………………….. and take my word for it the fear is definitely contagious.

I could tell you everything that happened but I do think that would ruin the experience. It is all about the not knowing that creates the anticipation and fear. Needless to say, you may come out sweaty, dishevelled and weighing half a stone lighter than before and unable to talk because you have lost your voice by screaming ( or that could have just been me). It is not a 5 minute experience, we tried to work out how long it lasted and we reckoned around 20- 25 minutes in total, which may not sound long but believe me in the dark, with people scaring you and chasing you it is a VERY long time!

We also took our 16 year old son ( who also loves his jump scares) who went round with a young lady we didn’t know clinging to him for safety which he found hilarious. However, I will say now this show is strictly over 16’s and having done it I can see why. It’s intense to say the least and your teen will definitely need to be into this sort of thing before you decide to go.

We all loved it, like I said at the start the fear is contagious, you will definitely be kept on your toes, and it is best not to be claustrophobic either as there is also a short walk  ‘squeeze through’ that could cause your already panicked self to freak the hell out………….just saying.

If this sounds right up your scary street then take a little look at this video they have put together to get a feel for the experience, you can also book tickets here but you will need to be quick as this particular show is only available this week and runs until 31st Oct 2016.

Go on try it if you dare……….


It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas

This year I vowed I would be super organised and to be honest I have been ‘more’ organised but still find myself sitting now a week away from the big day with a huge ‘to do’ list and the panic is starting to set in.

I know this year a lot of people seemed to be putting their Christmas trees and decorations up towards the end of November and although it was nice to see the pictures I am a true December girl and mine always go up in the first weekend or week in December. However, I did start present buying mid November in an attempt to get ahead.

At the end of November I was lucky enough to attend the Ideal Home Show at Christmas which was a first for me. My friend and I had a fab time, bought lots of Chrismassy bits and pieces and had our first mulled wine of the season. It really did get me into the Christmas spirit and gave me lots of ideas for pressies along the way. The place was beautifully decorated and we had groups of carol singers and performers helping with the Christmas spirit.

From the minute you step off the tube you are in a Christmas world
From the minute you step off the tube you are in a Christmas world








There were some gorgeous food stalls, a wide range of companies were represented there and there was even a Greg Wallace restaurant that you could book into.


In fact there was so much to get around I probably could have done with another afternoon there to get around them all. However, I have to say my friend and I certainly gave it a good go, so much so that we felt the need to pop into the bar there for our first mulled wine at the end of the day before our journey home.

I loved the idea of this- an afternoon tea along with a London landmark tour!
I loved the idea of this- an afternoon tea along with a London landmark tour!I









This is the top deck
This is the top deck
The food looks amazing!
The food looks amazing!







I did buy a few new Christmas decorations and signs for this year from a fab stall that I could have spent a fortune at! Now I have to find just the right places for them. We weren’t lucky enough to see any of the celebrities as we attended on the Wednesday but there were different people there each day doing demonstrations throughout the few days.

I will definitely try and get back next year, but when I do I will start from upstairs in all the food stalls and work my way back down so I really do not miss anything……………………..mind you that may mean I spent a lot more. Although the bar is on the top floor so I may not see anything after a few mulled wine’s in there. Roll on next year.


The Ideal Home Show at Christmas in London

This I am very excited about and thankfully only have a week to wait. This years Ideal Home Show at Christmas will be taking place at Olympia London for the first time ever. The UK’s biggest Christmas exhibition will be open from the 25th – 29th of November to provide everything you could possibly need in the run up to the festive season, from over 600 exhibitors showcasing top Christmas shopping inspiration, a plethora of celebrity appearances and a Christmas bandstand hosting live entertainment……………c’mon you Christmas lovers what more could you need?








I’m feeling festive already and cannot wait to see the venue transformed into a winter wonderland. There will be exhibitors across 7 sectors, as well as a host of festive favourite celebrities including Gino D’Acampo, Laurence Llewelyn-Bowen, Olly Smith and Katie Piper who will be making her Christmas show debut and  experts will be on hand at the show offering their own festive hints and tips to make your Christmas Ideal.


There will be live entertainment for visitors to enjoy as they shop, a wide range of expert talks and advice,  a food & drink theatre featuring top tips from celebrity chefs, and even a champagne bar as well ( so that’s me sorted then!).

The Ideal Home Show at Christmas sponsored by Gocompare.com has everything you could possibly need to create the perfect Christmas all under one roof! So, for a chance to be part of history and experience Christmas for the first time at Olympia London, get yourself a ticket!


To book tickets log on to www.idealhomeshowchristmas.co.uk or call 0844 209 7330.  For Group bookings call: 0844 412 4650

Weekday Adult £12.00
Weekend Adult £14.00
Weekday Concession (Over 60’s) £10.00
Weekend Concession (Over 60’s)     £12.00
Children (Under 15) go free when accompanied by an adult      

Timings for Ideal Home Show at Christmas:

Wednesday 25th November 2015 10am – 6pm

Thursday 26th November 2015 10am – 9pm

Friday 27th November 2015 10am – 6pm

Saturday 28th November 2015 10am – 6pm

Sunday 29th November 2015 10am – 5pm

I am looking forward to spotting some lovely new Christmassy bits to add to my ever growing collection that I manage to add to each year. Our decorations go up at the start of December and I love the festive run up to the big day itself. However, I do think my OH may disown me if I buy any more fairy lights for him to put up…………………………………… so watch this space.

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Review- Le Toy Van Car and Mat set

I was asked at the end of summer if I would review a selection of toys from  a company called Doll Houses via Big Game Hunters at http://www.dollshouses.co.uk

The toys on offer were really for children who were much younger than my boys, however, a friend of mine agreed to review them as her youngest was the perfect age group as he has just started in reception at school.

I chose the Le Toy Van Car Playmat which retails at £27.50, and the Le Toy Van London Car Set which is £13.00.

Delivery was swift and the items were very well packaged together.

This is what was in the package!


The cars still boxed
The mat unrolled

On first glance when I opened the roll mat I thought it seemed a little thin considering the price! However, it has a non slip back on it which compensated as most modern family houses have wooden or laminate flooring and the backing would be very practical.

The cars seemed in keeping with most other wooden car toys aimed at that agegroup, but I thought the London set was a great  idea as it was just after the Olympics and most adults and kids could relate to it.

So I handed the toys to my friend whose children seemed to enjoy immediately. She has 2 boys and 1 girl, 1 boy just started school and 1 just started secondary school with the girl in the middle!! She did pass on that they all had a play with it so we can certainly say it’s a universal toy suitable for slightly older children than it is targeted to as well.



‘At first glance this mat seems rather expensive but when I compared it to others on the market I would say it offers better value. It lays flat as soon as it is rolled out and has an anti slip backing which is great for our wooden floors! The pile is flat too, which made it far easier for my children to move the cars around. I particularly liked the attention to detail e.g. Disabled parking bays and bus stops.
The London car set that came with it was great too as my children immediately identified them (living in greater London). There was only one small design fault. The steering wheel had been painted on the left! My 8 year old daughter spotted this straight away which is a shame, as the car mat is designed for right handed vehicles.
Overall I would say they were both very good value for money!!’

So have a look at their website here as they cater for both boys and girls with what looks like good quality wooden toys. With Christmas coming this company is worth a look.
DISCLAIMER: these products were sent for review purposes only. All opinions are for a candid and truthful review of the product. No other payment was received with regard for this review.

Sport Relief Run 2012

Yes it was that time of year that we love in this house of the good ol’ Sports Relief run. I must start by saying I have been chief photo taker for the past few years due to my M.E but that doesn’t stop me enjoying the day.

We set off to London on Sunday morning all ready to meet up with friends and do our bit for charity. The boys have raised some money together from friends and family, plus we registered for the run itself, and we purchased our 2012 Sport relief socks. So as a family we are happy that we have contributed enough to save a few children’s lives with the £5 vaccines.

Anyway, Sunday was a glorious day weather wise, and the atmosphere started on the train as most of the people travelling up there had some sort of Sport Relief attire!

Our motley crew of runners!

So I was plonked in a great viewing spot and adopted my new title of ‘bag lady’ along with the photo taking………..who says I can’t multitask!

They headed of to the start line with JLS in their race, an I started celeb spotting. Jon Culshaw, Dame Kelly Holmes, Richard Hammond and his family, the GB Netball team, David Tennant (*swoons*) oh and of course JLS!!

JLS and their bodyguard!

Now I must admit that these boys do nothing for me at all, although I’m sure they are very nice and all. However, when they came towards me ‘celeb fever’ took over and I found myself shouting to my family opposite to slow down so I could play paparazzi to JLS before snapping my family!!! LIKE I SAY I DO NOT KNOW WHAT CAME OVER ME AT THAT POINT!!

My poor group trying to get my attention whilst I ignored them over celebs........SHAME ON ME!

So to make up for it I ditched celeb world and concentrated on snapping the family as they came past heading towards the finish line- it was the least I could do.

My eldest who came past first
My youngest in a police outfit chasing his burgler buddies!
The very proud clan with all their well earned medals

Now I would be lying through my teeth if I didn’t admit to being a little jealous of them. The atmosphere is fab for the spectators but it must be fantastic to be part of it yourself. So with that in mind I have decided that in the next Sport Relief in 2014 ( OH MY F**KING GOD MY ELDEST WILL BE ALMOST 16!!!!!- strike that thought) I should hire a wheelchair, ‘pimp my ride’ as they say and get a few of my fellow clan to pull or push me along!!!

That way I don’t have to do what I did on Sunday and cheat by ‘borrowing’ someone’s medal for my picture!!



So did you take part in the mile where you were?

Journey 2- The Mysterious Island

I was lucky enough to be invited to the screening of Journey 2 The Mysterious Island last weekend, we had seen the first film so generally had an idea what to expect.

However, when we arrived at the Vue in London we were taken by surprise as we were met by allsorts of snakes, spiders and lizards!! Not what you expect when you go to see a film!

Anyway, this had my youngest totally in his element. As both myself and my eldest wandered casually around eating the lovely croissants and drinking juice cocktails that had been supplied, my youngest went around trying to hold everything he could( this may have had something to do with the toys they were giving away to the kids who bravely held them)!

That's only a snippet of the lovely breakfast goodies!!

At one point a very nice lady politely asked me if I would like to try some snacks but as I looked at the plate it was true ‘Bush Tucker Trial’ stuff. I’m not kidding, she just laughed when I politely declined but asked to take a photo ( a true blogger me!).

I thought Ant & Dec were going to jump out and say I had to eat the lot!

Then it was time to go into the cinema. We got our 3D glasses at the ready and took our seats.

Now if I’m honest after seeing the first film ( that was a birthday treat if you don’t mind- funny how our birthdays always get taken over by the kids ideas!!) I wasn’t really expecting too much. However, I was pleasantly surprised. There was an element of comedy that was aimed both at the kids and the adults with a little obvious slapstick for the youngest of watchers too. The serious charm of Michael Caine as the grandfather was a great match against Dwayne Johnson ( who I expected to be slightly wooden but surprisingly wasn’t). The little one liners between them kept a great rivalry going. Watch out for Dwayne’s ‘pec’s’ talk………..hilarious.But Luis Guzman as Gabato played the comedy character you couldn’t help but like…….Bless him.

So premise of the story if you don’t know:

Sean gets crypted messages from a ‘mysterious island’, Hank ( stepdad) helps him uncover the code and accompanies him find the island. Gabato and his daughter help them get there by using their helicopter. Long story short…….they get there by default, find Sean’s long lost grandfather (Caine) and have to find a way off the island as it’s sinking!! Cue the Nautilus/ Atlantis slant.

Anyway, all in all a great film to take the kids too over the coming half term. Action, adventure and a splash of comedy makes for a kids film that even the parents may admit to enjoying for what it is.

The film has been rated as a PG and has a running time of 94mins

The 2 silhouettes are my boys trying to blend in with the poster!!

Declaration: I was given the free tickets to review this film, however all opinions are my own!

Sorry about the quality of the photos…..I stupidly forgot my camera and had to rely on my Blackberry!!!

Thank You to the lovely Emily at Think Jam for the chance to review Journey 2 The Mysterious Island.

A Wicked Day!


In more ways than one. Actually it was the 6th Annual ‘Wicked’ day in London. If any of you have seen the hit musical then you will know what I’m talking about. It has become a bit of a phenomenon and I was taken by surprise at really how serious the fans take this!

The queue outside just before opening was huge and not your regular queue, no it was full of people dressed up in full costume (and not just for Halloween!).

On entering everyone was given a style of goodie bag, with details of the day and advertising for the musical itself. There were real costumes from the show on display along with other props.

Paul Phear from Magic FM was there on the day as our main host, with performances from some of the cast throughout the afternoon. They then mingled around the crowd posing for pictures along the way.

There was an endless queue for eager beaver fans (young and old) to sing their hearts out defying their own gravity for top spot in the karaoke competition at the end. The 3 finalists were truly unbelievable singing on the main stage in front of the crowd.

It was advertised as a family day and there were lots of children around! they provided activities for younger children in the way of face paintings, workshops and games.

There was a quiz to find the fan who knew the most about the show overall who had to go ‘head to head’ with some of the cast in order to win!

My youngest was filmed with an up and coming 17 year old magician who managed to wow him with a fantastic trick!

Anyway, all in all it was a great afternoon. However, I think next year I will round up a few girlies and head down there for a nice lunch, a civilised glass of wine and then into the 7th Wicked Day- who knows enough wine and I might attempt Defying Gravity on the karaoke!! Ok maybe not!

So for those of you who haven’t actually seen this musical so far, well shame on you! You must try and see it, go with the girls for a great night out.

For more information check out the Wicked website.

Week 1 of holidays………..survived!

I thought that with the start of the school holidays I would have so much more time to do…………things, chill out, catch up on a bit of telly, blog amongst others.


I cannot believe that we are into the second week of the school holidays already. In fact a slight panic has set in, have I actually got enough time to do everything. My eldest has already been and returned from his week long scout camp!! We are heading off tomorrow to my MIL’s caravan along the Kent coast until Monday, as hubby now has a few days off work (thank God!). Now my boys are pestering me to go to their Nanny’s, who happens to live in Devon, which would be fantastic but I’m not sure I can drive that long on my own ( due to the M.E sometimes my muscles are extremely painful and an almighty fatigue can set in). We also have a festival in the middle of August and I haven’t even thought about uniforms ( apart from my eldest’s new blazer……….which I never forget after leaving it into a dry cleaners once only to wake up middle of the night on the day he was due back to school, in a total panic about what to do!!! Believe me my OH was not best pleased as I almost gave him heart failure thinking someone had broken in!!)

Anyway, last week was great with one child away it was great to spend time with the other on his own, and boy did he have his week planned out. OH was off Monday so my son decided he wanted to visit St Paul’s Cathedral in London!! So naively we thought great a little afternoon up there, we would listen to the tour gadgets and take a few pic’s and then home….

Oh no were there for 5 hours!! Yes you read it right………5 hours. They convinced me to go up the stairs to the Whispering Gallery, which I really wanted to do anyway. However, then they persuaded me to go further to the Stone Gallery! Which turned out to be fantastic as it was a beautiful day so we sat and had our lunch there!

That’s us on the stone Gallery
View from the Stone gallery

 Then they persuaded me to go a bit further, to the top in fact. From there we had just the most fantastic view across London, so I felt it was worth it in the end.

More steps!!!!
View from the very top!

However, I started to struggle coming down and after several rests I got to the bottom only to find my legs started shaking uncontrollably and I was stuck to the spot for about 15 minutes!!!! It was sooo not funny, bad enough when people pass you on the stairs and look at you as though you are a complete pleb for not being able to get up there, let alone how people look at you when your OH is practically holding you up in the middle of St Paul’s!!( M.E is invisible so people look at you as if your are an idiot when your OH helps you up or holds you up for whatever reason). We made it to the cafe to recuperate …………a cuppa and a chocolate crispy cake is like a miracle cure.

Then a purchase in the shop ( I very sadly collect fridge magnets from wherever I go) and a snoop in the Crypt and we then being practically thrown out we had been there so long.

When I thought it was all over my son casually mentions going across the Millennium Bridge ( which is practically in front of St Paul’s) so I plodded on.

That’s us heading towards the bridge…………..slowly.

The day was fantastic although I knew I would suffer the next day.

So on Tuesday my OH took over and the pair of them built a ‘den’ in the garden while I watched from the sidelines taking pic’s and drinking tea.

The finished product!
Complete with warning.

Wednesday my Oh returned to work so I promised my son that we would use our prize from a competition and go play our free round of mini golf at Bluewater. That was great fun until my son beat me by 2 points!!! I was so not impressed………I’m not one of those lovely parents who let their child win at things. I don’t know what happens to me but a competitive streak takes over and not an inch is given.

However, I consoled myself with a Krispy Kreme and a coffee before letting my son window shop around Bluewater to get a few ideas for his birthday.

Thursday, I had a lovely invite to HMS Belfast which you can read about in the previous post. So little ol’ me and my son and his buddy spent a fab few hours on the ship before returning home. He then was invited to his friends for the afternoon ( his mum is a start and knew I would be heading to bed after a busy morning out) and didn’t return until dinner time!!

Friday was a meet with a friend at the pool, boys went swimming we had a coffee and then went back to hers for lunch and a great catch up in the afternoon!!

By then I was completely drained so Saturday was a complete blur to me and spent most of it in bed. But my eldest returned from his camp very happy but tired!!

This week had already started with an impromptu water fight yesterday afternoon and a swim ‘play date’ with their friends this afternoon.

A make do water spray!! LOL

We will be off to the caravan tomorrow but I’m yet to get everything packed and I am sitting on the computer doing this!!!!!
I’m waiting on the magic fairy to come in the night and sort it all out for me……………….OK that means I will be up late and then not sleep as I think of the things I have forgotten to pack!!! Meanwhile my lovely boys (including OH) will sleep fantastically well as they only have to remember to put on clean pants……and sometimes that’s a struggle.

So here’s to a few hopefully relaxing days away where I am hoping my OH will take over the ‘entertaining’ of the boys for a while as I sit on the sidelines and recuperate a little in readiness for the next few weeks!!!