Wednesday, 18 October 2017


Work Space

Working from home is a dream come true for me, it was something that I had wished I was in a position to do for a long time, and as amazing as it is, it turns out working from home can sometimes be harder than you may think. Much harder.

When you're working from home people don't really seem to consider it as working, because you are not going out to work in the conventional way (and let's face it blogging and freelance writing is a new age sort of job, especially when you are your own boss!). 

People call upon you for a favour that hinders your bottomless to do list, the dog decides he needs a 2 hour walk because he quite simply won't settle when he knows you're in the house, or you have to go and pick your poorly child up from school.

So yes, on a good day working from home is a dream come true, but there are so many things that can and do go wrong. This chain of thought got me thinking about my ideal work space, and I have to admit that I do have a pretty good setup (now that I have managed to invest in a desk chair!), and not to mention that I can work in my dressing gown and slippers if I so desire (and do when the weather gets colder!). 

There is no fighting over the office temperature, no freezing under the air conditioner, and I can quite simply revel in the cosy warmth that I covet. As I type this I am wearing the thickest fluffiest cardigan that I own, and I have matched that with a rather nice pair of slipper socks. At least this way when the doorbell sounds and I am face to face with yet another delivery driver, I won't have to look quite so embarrassed. 

At home office

So what would my #WorkSpaceWonder be? Ideally I would like a dedicated office space, right now I have my desk setup in the front room, but ideally to have my very own office with a door I can shut on the world would make life so much easier. Right now that is not an option, but this means that my two other family members are forever placing paperwork, toys and everything else onto my desk. It's not ideal, it can be rather annoying... And I have to clean my work space off most mornings before I can even sit down at it. It feels like I am forever having to sort through paperwork that isn't mine, I try and leave only my to do list and essential work load on the desktop, but they of course have other ideas...

I am not saying I would need to rent a office at Pall Mall Estates, but a designated room with no children and no dogs would be an absolute dream come true....For now though it is that, just a dream.

One day when we do eventually buy our own home, it would be amazing to have the room to set up my desk in a room all on it's own. This desk of mine is pretty special to me, it belonged to my Granddad who passed away just over a week ago, so I feel very blessed to be able to keep it in the family. It's an antique desk and although it doesn't keep in with my overall style, I was determined to make it work.

My little at home work space is pretty close to my heart, and even if the house changes, the desk will remain, and it will follow us to wherever I call home next. 

I have a pretty good setup all in all, it's a constructive place to work and above all else I can be flexible, flexible for friends, for family, for the pup. Working here, working from home allowed me to go and visit my Granddad in the care home on a weekly basis, it meant that I got some special extra time with him, it might not always be an ideal circumstance working from home, but how lucky am I to have been able to take that time out of my working day to spend with my Granddad.

Saturday, 7 October 2017

Everything You Need to Know about is a super fun, online multiplayer game. It was the first public release for its developers and is a raging success for .io game lovers everywhere. This game is not only fun to play but becomes addictive as you want to do better and better each round. The gameplay is simple and easy to pick up on and pretty soon you’ll develop strategies for how to be the best player out there. You can play with all your friends, too. Just send them the link and share what username you decide on. You can even choose a different username for each game if you want.

Here’s how it works: Your goal is to be the biggest animal. How do you become the biggest animal? You bite other animals on the butt. The bigger you are, the harder it is to kill you. So, if you’re just starting the game and another player bites your butt, you’ll die instantly. If you’re a larger animal being bitten by a smaller one, it may take two or three bites to take you down. Your creature will get smaller with each bite. If you take down an animal that’s way bigger than you, you’ll gain special abilities to evolve. You can also get bigger by eating the little dots you’ll see around you, but it takes quite a bit longer than biting other animals.

The controls are very easy to learn and grow accustomed to. Your creature will follow your cursor. To bite other animals, you just have to direct your creature up to their butts; no other region can be bitten. You use the “Q”, “W”, and “E” keys to activate your special skills. You’ll know which to use for which skill by looking at that skills icon at the bottom of your game screen. It will say which key for which. The first ability you choose will be accessed through the “Q” key, the second through the “W” key, and the third through the “E” key.

There’s very little strategy necessary to succeed at this game, however, there’s opportunities wherein you can utilize strategy and improve your skills. If you follow the link we provided above, there is a walk-through video to show you how the game is played and demonstrate what it will be like, so you’re better prepared. This game was released just last month and is already very popular.

Similar to Katamari Damacy, the more you devour the bigger you grow, but if other players bite your butt you’ll shrink until you die. It’s also similar to and, if you are familiar with those games. The whole point of the game is to bite as many opposing players as possible and make your character as big as possible. To block other players from biting you, you merely have to spin around to not allow them access to your butt. The bite only works if it’s on the butt.

This game is a great time-waster and is actually enjoyable. It’s not like those pointless freemium games you can download on your phone; there’s some strategy involved, but it’s not so challenging that it will become too time-consuming. This game is light and fun.

If you’re looking for a great online multiplayer game that’s free and easy to pick up, look no further than this addictive game. You should not that this game is relatively new, just having been developed last month, and is already available on several websites and loved by many. This addicting game will have you logging on every spare second you get to try to make your animal the biggest in the round. The longer you last, the better your chances are at being the best. There’s opportunities to develop and utilize strategy, or you can just play casually when you have some down time. This game has a little something for everyone and involves cute cartoon animals; who doesn’t love cute animals? What are you waiting for? Start playing today and get all your friends playing too!

Thursday, 5 October 2017

Take me to New York

Empire Sate Building from Top Of The Rock

I always seem to find my mind wandering to warmer climates when Autumn arrives, don't get me wrong. I love the changing seasons and there is definitely something refreshing about the crisp mornings and cooler temperatures that can be felt now, but it has got to the point where I did use the hair dryer to warm my bed for the first time last night (yes, apparently the hair dryer is the modern day equivalent to the bed warming pan). Maybe I should just admit defeat now and stick the heated blanket on the bed...

Luke and I were talking the other day about holiday's and where we would like to jet off to next. Realistically if we want to go anywhere next year, we do need to start thinking about it right now so that the finances are in place to accommodate such luxurious dreams. There are a few ideas that come to mind when we start shooting destinations back and forth between the two of us (and these change again when you Leo jumps in!). 

New York, California, Costa Rica, Mexico and Australia.

As you can see we are quite indecisive, these are the 5 parts of the world that keep coming back into the conversation... 

Empire Sate Building from Top Of The Rock

We seem to keep landing back at New York though, and it does seem to be a pretty good place to start.

Leo is already very well travelled in Europe (I hadn't even been abroad at his age), and has so far visited France, Tenerife, Cyprus and Crete twice, but  he has wanted to visit New York ever since I flew out there in November of 2016. 

Leo has seen it in the movies, he has admired my pictures and now he wants to visit the concrete jungle that is the big apple for himself. It's something that I really want him to see too, I was completely blown away for the whole time I spent in this rather wonderful city. You never do stop looking up at the buildings, you can't help walking along the sidewalk and just marvelling up, I couldn't help wondering how anyone ever found anything.

We were only there for 3 days, we had flown from London and used Purple Parking for the car while we were Stateside. 3 days was not enough time to do everything that we wanted to do, and I long to go back and walk around the 9/11 memorial, I will never forget the feeling of standing at the foot of where the twin towers once stood, it was still a very raw place even all of these years later. It was hard to wrap my head around that I was stood exactly where the events unravelled all of those years ago, where all of those people lost their lives. 

Ground Zero - 9/11 Memorial New York

We walked into Brooklyn over the world famous Brooklyn Bridge, took a boat ride out to see the Statue of Liberty and did all of the typical touristy things that you would do when in New York, but the whole time I was there I kept thinking how much Leo and Luke would love this experience too. 

Brookyln Bridge

Statue of Liberty - New York

Leo talks about going all the time, and I can't help looking at deals to fly back out, and it would be so nice to go during the festive season again. We were lucky with the weather and the sun shone throughout the entire time that we were there (creating some absolute stunning backdrops over the iconic city), and we even saw them preparing the Rockefella Christmas Tree. 

Then there was Ice Skating in Central Park, you know, where the bad guys in Home Alone 2 Lost in New York go skating! 

Central Park Ice Skating  - New York

There is so much to see and do in New York, but of course this kind of experience doesn't come cheap. Once you have taken into account your flights and accommodation you have to remember that food costs on top with the additional tips that are even applicable on drinks that you may order from a bar (This completely threw me!), it can get pretty pricey. 

What an experience though? When I arrived home, I felt like I had been gone for weeks. I had never left Leo for this duration before, and it felt like a lifetime. When I go back here, we will be going as a family, as I want to show my boys just how amazing New York really is, and we will most definitely be going for longer so that we can fit EVERYTHING in.

Friday, 29 September 2017

Know Before You Go

Break Down - Mini Cooper

For a long time I was a complete scaredy cat when it came to driving, and my anxiety meant that I was very limited as to where I could and would go. This has thankfully relaxed over recent years and there isn't really anywhere that I wouldn't go, I drove into the centre of Birmingham earlier last year on more than one occasion, and although I wouldn't do it again in a hurry, it is something that I was rather proud of. 

I find myself driving to Uxbridge fairly regularly, which is about a 90 minute drive from my home in Worcestershire, and it's now a drive that I quite enjoy, especially when it is just me in the car and I can turn up the volume and sing my little heart out as I blast down the M40. 

Now I am happier to venture further afield I have realised that I need to make sure my car maintenance is up to scratch (Yes I have learned this the hard way). My luck (or lack of luck) with cars got me thinking about what you need to do before you set off on any considerable journey, and the basics of course are making sure you have a valid MOT and that your is fully serviced (Kwik Fit are always very good)

One example of my bad luck was after a visit to Bath with the bestie, we got there no problem at all, and thankfully we made it back to our home town, but it was then as we sat in traffic coming through town that I realised that my car bonnet was smoking. At first I thought it was the exhaust of the car in front, but of course no such luck. I pulled the car over to the side of the road and stepped out for a closer look (not that I have a clue what I am really looking at), and saw that water was pouring out underneath, and despite not having a clue about cars, I knew that this wasn't good. 

The poor Mini (who is no longer with us) had to be towed away to the garage, where she had been spending a considerable amount of time by this point. It was only the month before that a wheel went bang on a motorway journey from Nottingham, and I was left in gym shorts on the hard shoulder for a good few hours (because guess who didn't have any breakdown cover!?).

I was just thankful for my yoga mat, umbrella and hoodie during that time, and not so thankful for the cold and the rain that decided to make an appearance. 

So what should you do before you get on the road?

- Make sure you have valid breakdown cover and all of the details you need.

- Check your water and oil levels (it never hurts to top them up).

- Check your tyres air pressure (Guess who didn't when their wheel went bang?)

- Make sure your spare wheel (if you have one) is where it should be (Just in case)

- Keep an umbrella, coat and water in the boot (Because you never know)

I have since traded in that little Mini of mine because frankly, she was nothing but trouble. Off road more than she was on it, and the car tax alone was £300 odd pounds a year, so I decided that I needed something cheaper to run and that was more practical for the puppy. 

Thankfully so far there have been no real issues with the Skoda... And I for one hope that it stays that way!

Monday, 25 September 2017

Cotswold Dog Days & Spotty Dog Lux

Cotswold Dog Days - Dalmatian

When you have a rather energetic dog such as my Dalmatian Lux for instance, it can be quite a nerve racking thought to entrust him to anyone other than yourself. Earlier this year when we went off to Crete for the week, I sent him off to a dog board (for those of you who don't know, it's essentially a holiday for dogs, where they get one to one attention, and it's an alternative to kennels). 

I knew that Lux would not fare well in kennels, so this seemed like the best option for us all. Only Lux had never been left before and he must have felt like his world was crashing in on him, that we had left him forever. Suffice to say the poor guy who was caring for Lux that week did not have an easy time of it at all, I guess that might be why he wanted to return him a day earlier than planned, and why he rocked up back home just after 8am as opposed to the discussed 14:00 o clock...

Yes, leaving Lux is not something I make a habit of doing, and up until this weekend, I didn't dare let anyone else take him out again, let alone have him over night. I guess I have become slightly anxious because I know that he can be a rather large handful, but deep down he is a lovely boy just wanting to be involved in anything and everything that is going on.

When Lux goes out for a walk, it is almost as though he see's the world for the first time (every single day), all the sights, sounds and smells, the other people and of course the other dogs make for a very excited dog.  

Cotswold Dog Days - Dalmatian

This weekend I pushed my anxiety aside and sent Lux off with Naomi of Cotswold Dog Days for a 5 mile round walk around the Cotswolds. I gave full disclosure about my not so little asbo puppy, I told her that he could be a handful and a down right monster at times, but this didn't phase Naomi and she said that she was more than happy to see how they got on if I was happy for him to go.

I decided that it would be nice for Lux to go, and it would be interesting to hear some feedback from Naomi on what she thought about Lux. At 2pm Naomi came and picked up Lux, and as soon as she arrived my mind was put at ease and I knew that Lux was in very good hands. 

Naomi had even brought a car harness for Lux to wear in her car and explained that she had planned a 5 mile walk around Broadway, and provided me a time to expect them back. 

This gave me around 3 hours at home without Lux, and it was such a strange feeling. Lux is always with me at home, so to walk around the house without having him follow me wherever I go (or do the laundry without him running off with a sock or two) was just very odd. It did however give me the chance to tidy the house from top to bottom. 

I got a text just after 5pm letting me know that they had finished their walk and were on there way back home.  

Cotswold Dog Days - Dalmatian

Naomi offers photographs of all the dogs that she takes out on her walks, and we were lucky enough to receive some absolutely gorgeous shots from Lux's walk with Cotswold Dog Days (Friends and family who have seen them have been as equally impressed as us!). When the images came through last night I felt a sudden prang, you know that feeling you get when you are proud of your kids? Yeah I got that for my dog! 

I am planning on getting one or two of these shots put onto canvases, I have been meaning to get some done for a while but never found the right photo (and now I have a gorgeous selection!). Naomi must have read my mind when it came to the telephone box, because I was going to try and get a similar image myself (but I can never get Lux to co-operate!). 

Naomi offers a very personal service to you and your dog, and I have been so impressed by the entire experience (and the gorgeous photos that you receive after).

Naomi delivered back one very tired spotty dog (Who pretty much slept for the rest of the evening), and she did absolutely amazing with him because he can be a real nightmare. I wouldn't hesitate in using Naomi and Cotswold Dog Days again in the future, and if you are local to the Cotswolds or will be visiting for a holiday at some point in the future then you can claim a 10% discount by mentioning #SpottyDogLux!

Make sure to follow @CotswoldDogDays on Instagram for more gorgeous pet photography!

Weight is just a number

Bikini Body Guide Results

A few years back now I decided that I was going to shake my lifestyle up, regular readers will know that I went on to lose 2 stone. Guess what guys? I pretty much put it all back on, but not in the way you might imagine.

As it turns out a healthy lifestyle is not all about what you weigh, and boy has it taken me a very long time to try and get my head around that. In the past I have restricted calories and denied myself treats because I was so riled up about what that damn scale said. In doing all of the above my weight did plummet, and at that time I did not see it as a problem, in actual fact I saw this as success. 

As my weight went down, all of my clothes became baggier and baggier until the day came that I simply had to get rid of the vast majority of my wardrobe in favour of going out and purchasing everything in my new smaller size. There were items that I kept, mainly dresses because they had cost me so much to purchase in the first place and annoyingly had only been worn once or twice, I didn't ever expect to actually fit into them again, but you know sometimes you keep these things just in case.

Over the last 8 months I have addressed how much I am eating and have almost doubled my calorie intake, I started lifting weights and watched as my lower body started to transition. My jeans started to get to tight, my new smaller wardrobe was not fitting quite so snuggly anymore. I remember a point in April on a weekend away in London that I got quite irate with myself, I had brought away two of my favourite dresses and they were just not fitting like they used to, one wouldn't even do up. I threw my shoes across the room in sheer frustration and had to make do with the other dress that I was quite simply not happy with.

In recent months I have had to go back through my wardrobe, give away a whole load of items that I quite honestly don't know how I ever fit into now, and also go out and replace jeans, leggings and dresses, although it has been rather nice getting to purchase some gorgeous new outfits (I have been loving the luxury women's wear at David Nieper)

Looking back it was just my body starting to change, but as I was still getting my head around how putting weight back on did not mean that I was going to revert back to old ways, and that it wasn't going to undo all of the hard work that I had put in over the last couple of years.

Bikini Body Guide Results

 This is a highlight of my starting point back in 2014, my 2 stone weight loss in the summer of 2015 and finally me today, There isn't a huge weight difference between my starting point and today, but there is a rather noticeable difference in my body composition, and there is a far cry between the skinny minnie in the middle and the girl who eats all the food on the right.

I have gone from eating a very rubbish diet combined with absolutely no exercise, to someone who was obsessing over every little detail, to finally reaching a point where I am all about balance. It's taken me a long old time to reach this point, and it hasn't always been an easy path to follow. When I decided that I wanted to started building up my lower body which of course meant eating in a calorie surplus, I questioned myself near enough every day as to whether I was doing the right thing. I got angry and frustrated when my clothes started to get to small, but now when I look between these last two photos, I can see exactly why I had to replace all my jeans! 

I had literally no bum!

We have weight drummed into us during every waking hour, but the reality really is that health and happiness does not lie in what we weigh. Health and happiness is when we are comfortable in our own skin, when we can make well balanced choices as to what we put in our bodies but equally so that we are not under eating and not restricting treats that we want to eat. 

I have learned this the absolute hard way, and I hear from girls all the time who are scared to start eating in a calorie surplus, which believe me I hands down get. I have been there. I find myself saying it all the time, but we cannot base our progress on the scale, it is merely a statistic and it cannot measure anything. You might weigh exactly the same, but you may lose inches and notice a change in your progress photos even if your weight doesn't budge. 

Friday, 22 September 2017

All Hallows Eve

Trick or treat

Halloween is a big topic of conversation in our house right now, Leo considers it a holiday as big as a Birthday or Christmas and I have already been given my marching orders to purchase him a axe and a big bucket so that he can collect candy. 

What Leo wants to dress up as this year is anybody's guess, we haven't quite got around to discussing that part of the scenario just yet, but to say he is excited is quite the understatement. We are lucky to live in a nice quiet area where it is possible for me to take him Trick or Treating, and last year he came home with enough candy to last him into the New Year (And it did!).

I guess I should have known that Leo would eventually catch the Halloween bug, because in my younger days (and I guess you could say older days because I still love any excuse to dress up!), I did love any excuse to dress up and get my scare on (and it appears that Leo is no different!).

Trick or treat

We have started looking at what we will be doing this All Hallows Eve, and it seems that we will MOST CERTAINLY be going out around our local neighbourhood seeing what tricks or treats Leo can endure, so of course that means that we will be getting some candy in and making the front of the house trick or treat friendly. Personalised Gift Shop have a great selection of Halloween Sweets and loot bags right now so make sure to check those out! 

I think that is what is most important really, if you are taking part in the Halloween fun then you need to make this clear to those who will be out and about. Our rule of thumb is to only knock on the door of those who have a pumpkin out of the front (or a skeleton of course!). That way we avoid annoying people who may not want to open the door to a bunch of kids and strangers.

Last year Leo and I went out with another local family around the local area, we were back nice and early so we grabbed a chip shop dinner and sat around watching Hocus Pocus (and of course answered the door every time it knocked), we ate some of the sweet haul and just had a nice evening while some candles flickered in the background. 

If you are stuck for things to do with the children this Halloween then this Halloween To Do List might be a good place to start, it's full of ideas from Pumpkin Carving, what to watch on the box, games and what to eat! 

With Halloween just over a month away, I need to make sure that Leo is sorted with a costume, loot bag and whatever else he may need. I am half tempted to call in a Cruella Deville costume and take Lux out for the evening stroll, because why should Leo have all the fun? 

Poor Lux had to endure his first Halloween last year, and that involved his spots turning into spiders....

Spider Dalmatian

We tried to grow our own pumpkins this year, and unfortunately it seems that we still have to go and purchase them. One spotty dog has been eating anything and everything that dares to grow in our grow bags. The cucumbers are missing chunks and a tell tale sign was when we caught him trying to bury his chicken thigh in with the plants....

We do carve a pretty good pumpkin though, so it doesn't really matter where they come from.