Popping my Britmums Live cherry

Popping my Britmums Live cherry- 2014

First of all this post is really, really late but I will explain that in another post!

Anyway, on to me popping my Britmums Live cherry.

After listening to all the talk on Twitter last year, looking at all the fab pictures and generally feeling like I had missed out. I decided that 2014 was definitely the year I was going to go to the Britmums Live event in London.

An amazing venue
An amazing venue

The venue was fabulous even on the outside.

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How to de-stress family car journeys

As most of you will know by now I have to teenage boys. Just because they are teens does not make car journeys any less stressful than with a journey with toddlers. I remember when they were little they always took books, colouring stuff, small toys. Then as they got older it was Gameboys, audio books and DVD’s and now that they are teens they automatically lift their headphones for their phones or Ipods etc.

One thing that is easier to deal with is the fact they have a concept of time so they know on a long journey not to ask ‘Are we there yet?’ They also know and understand they have to wait until the next service station to go for a pee rather than having to stop on the hard shoulder to pee in the bushes!! We also do our game of Yellow Car on long motorway journeys although I do tend to become a bit competitive with this one.But they have learned from an early age to bring stuff to amuse themselves.

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Thrifty ways of keeping warm when working from or staying at home

I am at home all of the time, sure I go out and about, meet friends for coffee, get my shopping in etc during the day while the boys are at school but because I’m unable to work I am generally at home most of the time.

Also because of my condition (ME/CFS) I feel the cold ALL of the time, but during the winter I refuse to heat a whole house by putting the central heating on when there is only me in the house. My OH always tells me off for this and will always tell me to put the heating on if I feel cold, which I do as soon as the boys are home from school.

When it is just me though I do think it’s a total waste. So I have over time found very thrifty ways to keep myself warm when I’m here on my own. Hopefully some of you who work and blog from home will find some of them helpful.

1. Wheat heat pads! These are fab and I was introduced to these by my mum as I struggle with muscular pain anyway. Literally you stick it in the microwave for 1min 30 secs and voila – instant heat. I use these to ease my neck pain and also helps to keep me warm.

2. Fingerless gloves! These may sound a bit Steptoe and Son but trust me when you are sitting at the laptop and your hands/ wrists get cold then you are going to feel cold generally. I’m a knitter so these are easy enough for me to make and I have several pairs. But really you could pick up a pair of cheap gloves from a pound store and cut the tips off so you can still type etc. It’s amazing how much heat they hold.

2. Good old fashioned water bottles! Either the full size ones or the little half size ones are fab. I have a full size one with a fleece cover on which will stay hot for ages. If I’m sitting on the sofa using the laptop then I rest my feet on it- once my feet are warm then I’m warm. I also have a little half size one which I use for my hands or rest against my back while I’m sitting.

3. Electric shoulder and neck pad. I was given this from my mum and use it all the time. It works the same as an electric blanket. If I’m sitting for any length of time then I plug this in pop it on a low heat and it has 90 minute cut off. I keep the heat minimal but wear it for the full time if I’m on the computer or sitting knitting/ crocheting/ reading/ watching telly etc. You can pick these up in places like Aldi or Lidl’s for around £15- a great investment rather than forking out for a days heating.

4. Thermals! I know soooo attractive- NOT. But these are great I have several pairs of ‘Heat’ knee length socks, normal thermal socks and some thermal vest style tops that go under what your wearing. Like I said not the most attractive things but they do work and can be picked up quite cheaply from sports shops to  Primarni!

5. Hot drinks.! This is obviously a no brainer and there is a chance you may get a bit waterlogged throughout the day but they do help. For this I recommend a flask- as sometimes when having a bad day I will be in bed or on the sofa most of the day. My OH and kids know to always leave me a flask of hot green tea! But for those lucky enough to have a little home office a hot drink from a flask is a godsend as it saves you interrupting your work or the flow of your writing all the time for a cuppa- so when you make your 1st cuppa fill a flask at the same time and that way you have your next warm drink at your fingertips. I have several single size flasks that keep a hot drink hot for ages.

So if your like me and are at home during the day but don’t want the expense of a huge heating bill over the winter try some of these tips and let me know how you get on.




The Importance of Bedtime Reading

The Importance of Bedtime Reading

So how important is bedtime reading to you as an adult?

Hands up all you parents who have a read of a chapter or two before you go to bed yourself.

So, now as a parent how many of you actually read to your children before they go to sleep?

Now don’t get me wrong there are days when maybe you have got home from work late to find chaos at home. By the time you have battled your way through dinner and the bedtime routines of baths etc, there may be a few nights that go past without a story. Am I right?

We can’t always be perfect ( although we are most of the time of course!) but I would reckon that a good majority of us DO read to the kids before they go to sleep.

This was something I did almost religiously with my boys when they are young. Mr B is not a big reader but I am. I knew it was important for the boys to enjoy books before they could master reading. So, the importance of bedtime reading was something I prioritised.

I am proud to say that both my boys are avid readers today, so that must be something I have done right at least!

Anyway, for those of you who maybe don’t read to the kids at bedtime, for whatever reason, check out this programme  online to help with the possible stress that bedtime reading can sometimes cause.

The Importance of Bedtime Stories

Watch our live show with Becky Overton, British children’s bedtime story writer, and TV presenter Helena Dowling to discuss why bedtime stories are so important for our little ones.

Show date: Friday 22nd March

Show time: 12:30pm  

Many parents can find bedtime stressful, but that needn’t be the case. Reading bedtime stories can really help your children relax and fall asleep more easily, and create an emotional bond between parent and child. Not only does a bedtime story help create a sense of occasion but it can also give children something to really look forward to before they turn out the light.

While some of us might lack confidence in our ability to read to our children, some of us are unsure of what tone or volume to use, or even what stories are suitable for bedtime reading – fear not, help is at hand.

So if you are worried about how you can read your children bedtime stories, don’t know exactly what the benefits of reading with your little ones are or want to share your tips and advice to other parents, then log onto our live show.

Becky Overton, a British Children’s Writer, whose stories are featured on A Bedtime Story with Arnie & Barnie on Nick Jr. and read by well-known celebrities such as Greg Rutherford and Kimberly Wyatt, is on hand to answer your questions, alongside TV presenter Helena Dowling and Holly Driscoll from Dolly and Daydreams.

Becky Overton, Helena Dowling and Holly Driscoll join us live online at http://www.studiotalk.tv/show/the-importance-of-bedtime-stories on Friday 22nd March at 1pm

Click here to submit questions before the show http://www.studiotalk.tv/show/the-importance-of-bedtime-stories

For more info check out http://www.nickjr.com/read

The Teenager Manual

No I’m not kidding I actually found this in the library today!

Yes the Haynes Teenager Manual!! So I couldn’t leave it on the shelf. I have 2 boys aged 12 and 14yrs and dealing with them is a complete minefield. They are both VERY different in character and also deal with similar situations in different ways. It is true that they cannot breathe the same air and DO NOT get on in any way!

I don’t want them to grow into delinquents or become estranged in any way and yet I do believe that it comes down to us as parents to do something about it.  WE must be doing something wrong if that were to actually happen and  to be fair I would be distraught.

So, in true fashion of ‘prevention rather than cure’ I saw this and thought………………well it worked out OK for cars didn’t it.

Well it can’t hurt can it?




Phineas and Ferb

Anyone love drawing? Cartooning? Phineas and Ferb?

What do they all have in common…………..check out below:


Show date:           Thursday 28th November

Show time:             5pm
Dan Povenmire and Jeff ‘Swampy’ Marsh created the hit animated TV series Phineas and Ferb in 2008, which has gone on to become the number one rated show on Disney XD, watched by over 10 million people in the UK[1] which is half of all kids! The dynamic duo were also behind some of the most popular cartoons of recent decades, including The Simpsons and Family Guy.

Now you have the chance to have all your questions answered by the show’s creators, learn about cartoon animation and even learn how to draw your favourite characters from the show.

The series, which has just been nominated for two BAFTAs, has seen cameo appearances from a host of British stars including David Beckham, Jonathan Ross and Jamie Oliver, and centres around the adventures of Phineas and his English stepbrother Ferb, played by British actor Thomas Sangster. The step-brothers set out to conquer boredom and make every day of their 104-day summer holiday count, much to the annoyance of their older sister, Candace, voiced by High School Musical star Ashley Tisdale.  Meanwhile their family pet Perry the Platypus is actually a secret spy trying to save the world from the evil Dr Doofenshmirtz.

Not only did creators Dan and Swampy develop the series concept together, they also voice the show’s villain Dr Heinz Doofenshmirtz and Major Monogram respectively.

So have you ever wondered what goes into producing a series like Phineas and Ferb and where the creators get their inspiration from?  Well now’s your chance to put your questions to Dan and Swampy, find out about their favourite episodes and learn how to draw characters from the show, straight from the experts!

To find out about more about this Emmy award-winning show, grab your pen and paper and join us live for this cartoon masterclass.

Live Interactive tech-IQ Test!

Go on admit it would you know what tablet does what, and I’m not talking about the kind you get at the chemist!!

I for one struggle with new technology, I am a true ‘technophobe’, always thinking that if I try something new I will probably break it! In fact it is sad to admit that I rely on my OH and my 14yr old to get me through anything I need for the blog………….ssssshhhhhhh don’t tell anyone.

So here is your chance to find out all about the latest gadgets and which one does what!

Log onto our live and interactive Tech-IQ test, with Pollyanna Woodward where she will be testing the nation’s tech savviness and advising us on the latest ‘must have’ gadgets in the run up to… Christmas!


Show date: Friday 16th November 

Show time: 2.30pm

Do you know what Wifi means? Or how to Tweet? Can you download music, upload photos and use an app?  Do you know the difference between a tablet and a laptop? And is it true that the younger you are the more attuned to technology you are?

The internet, smart phones, tablets and social media are now categorised as essential to millions of us, but just how much do you really know about gadgets and the big World Wide Web we orbit? Moreover, have you ever tested your Tech-IQ to figure out whether the products you buy and use are actually suited to your technical ability and lifestyle?

With gadgets such as tablets continuing to dominate our Christmas wish list this year, how many of us actually know our Nabi from our Nexus or will match the tablet with the task?

And should we be taking into account our technical ability when we are buying new products or putting them on our Christmas list? Luckily for us, one of the UK’s largest technology retailers Argos, has teamed up with Pollyanna Woodward to help match up which tablets suit what Tech IQ.

To find out how her own family compare, Pollyanna will be joined by her mother for a family tech-off.

 So how good are you?

Log onto our live and interactive Tech-IQ test with Pollyanna Woodward, where we will be testing how tech-savvy you actually are and what tablets and gadgets will suit you and your family


 Pollyanna Woodward joins us live online at http://www.studiotalk.tv/show/live-techiq-test on Friday 16th November at 2.30pm

Click here to submit questions before the show http://www.studiotalk.tv/show/live-techiq-test




Top tips for camping with families

Top tips for camping with families

Having just had a week away at half term camping in Dorset, I started thinking why I love being away camping. Something that would have had me breaking out in a sweat a few years ago. So I thought I would share a few top tips for camping with families.

Top Tips for camping with families
This is me and my friend celebrating getting set up and starting a week away!


 Print off a camping list…

Of any of the main camping equipment online. Or make your own using their list as a starting point. Check the  list against your equipment several weeks before you go. Tick off the stuff you have and listing the stuff you need to get.

Make a shopping list..

Make a shopping list just for the time you are away. PLAN YOUR MEALS and take the basics with you. So, if your plan is to have a curry make sure you have the jar of sauce and then buy your meat fresh on the day.

Cool box and freezer blocks…

A good cool box and freezer blocks are essential for milks and butter to keep cold. I tend to freeze a pack of bacon and sausages to take for a cooked breakfast on our 1st morning there. They will also act as freezer blocks for the first day but will have defrosted well for the first mornings breakfast.

Go prepared…

Go prepared for cold and warm weather this is the UK after all.. Woolly hats and hot water bottles for the colder evenings and possible shorts and sun cream for warmer days.

Take games…

Take games suitable for your children and family to play. We take Uno cards and several decks of cards for Black Jack and Solitaire. Pens and writing pads for Hangman/ Battleship. These really don’t take up much space but can provide a few hours of entertainment on a rainy day. Don’t forget games for outsidetoo, such as,  football/ bats and balls/ Frisbees. These will all help keep the kids entertained after dinner in the evening.

Get the kids involved…

Get the kids involved by giving them some responsibility. Let them pack a small bag of things they want to bring for their own amusement like books, head torches, trump cards etc. Also during the camp try giving older kids a chore, such as, filling the water bottles, washing up, or taking rubbish to the bins etc.

Take Flasks…

Take flasks because not only are these fab to take out with you during the day for a sneaky cuppa. But we fill them at dinner time to make teas and hot chocolates before bed. Instant hot water when the kids are tired and don’t want to wait for the kettle to boil.

Take a windbreaker…

Take a windbreaker to mark an area close to your tent space. These can help create a great cooking area if your tent does not have a porch. Also they are easy to uproot and take with you for a day at the beach, presuming you get sunshine.

Disposable BBQ…

Disposable BBQ’s can be picked up for a few quid in most places. They are great alternative to take to the beach for a lovely evening with a Hot Dog or Burger thrown in for a cheap and easy dinner. Sometimes we don’t even bother with the BBQ.  We just use one of our single stoves and a frying pan for the same results. They are portable so make use of them.

Relax and enjoy…

Relax and enjoy the time. There doesn’t need to be a strict regime like at home. No one will be knocking at your door. The ironing and cleaning do not need doing. Have a break from social media. Take each day as it comes, late mornings/ late bedtimes/ extra snacks and treats. THIS IS YOUR HOLIDAY AFTER ALL!

Let me know if you go camping and have some tips I haven’t mentioned here.

The Spoon Theory

Please take the time to read Christine Miserandino’s personal story and analogy of what it is like to live with sickness or disability.

It’s called The Spoon Theory.

It explains in simple terms how we can get more people to understand M.E/CFS

The Spoon Theory- but you don’t look sick!

Cartoon image of Christine Miserandino holding a spoon

That was the week that was…………….summer!

I so hope that this recent weather is going to continue. We are due to be camping over the half term and I am praying that some of the nice weather will stick around!!

I have finally switched over to my summer wardrobe………..be warned the shockingly white legs are out ( as is my bottle of tinting moisturiser!). The toenails have been painted and firmly placed in summer sandals/flip flops. The back door is now permanently open for the cats to run riot in the garden…………to be honest it has been absolute bliss.

Signs that summer has officially visited us:

* My washing could be left out all day!

* We have managed to eat several dinners outside!!

* The BBQ has been ramped up for the season!

* The seaside has been officially visited! ( WARNING- we do not travel light!)

It’s been picnics, bbq’s, suncream and of course no hot weather is complete without the necessary sunburn- I will spare you the pic!!

NOTE TO SELF: must remember that even though there is a lovely cool breeze at the coast……………………..I STILL BURN!

So long may it all continue ( except for the sunburn obviously- my factor 20 is at the ready for next week).