Wednesday, 30 July 2014

Flexible Working


When my maternity leave came to an end, I went back to work full time. Within that first week back at work I knew that I wasn’t ready to be back in full time employment, and I began to consider the options available to me.

Within those first few weeks I had put myself forward for flexible working, I wanted to reduce my 5 day week down to a 3 day week. I felt that by the time I had finished work I had missed out on an entire day with my little boy. I felt that he was growing up and I was missing out on those crucial milestones. I was missing breakfast with him as he was still in bed, I was getting home in the evening and seeing him for a short time before he again went to bed. It didn’t seem right that I should be at work more than I was at home caring for Leo.

I put the ball in motion and my first point of call was HR, from there I was advised as to what I would need to do in order to request a change to my contract. I was nervous at the thought of making such a big change but I knew that in order for me to find that right balance between work and play, this was something that I needed to do.

I knew that the company had to seriously consider my request, and that unless there was a vital reason that would affect the way the business functioned, I would most likely be granted my flexible working hours. The decision ultimately had to come from the Operations Director, and I was called into a meeting to discuss my request. He took a few weeks to make his decision and I was then given the good news. My request had been accepted.

Since 2003 parents have been allowed to request flexible working from their employers on the basis that certain conditions are met. In 2007 this was then extended to anyone with caring duties (as defined by the Department for Business, innovation and Skills), and now as of the 30th of June, this right will be available to all employees.

While employers are under no obligation to grant each and every request they may receive, it is reassuring to know that the option is there for people who may need it. As in my personal experience, the company will take time to consider the request and see how this change may impact the business. Sometimes the changes being requested would have a negative impact on the company, and of course this is something that needs to be taken into consideration.

You can find out more information on the new flexible working at Peninsula.

2 years later I am still with the same company, and working my 3 day week. I was so pleased with the work to play ratio that I now have and feel like I get the best of both worlds.


Disclaimer: This is a featured post

Tuesday, 29 July 2014

The Chuggington Rescue at Rocky Ridge Set Review


Trains are a love of Leo’s that he won’t be shaking anytime soon. He absolutely adores anything and everything that features them, and he loves playing with them just as much. If you look at Leo’s car box you will be met with multiple trains of all different shapes and sizes, all muddled amongst his Disney Car’s collection.

One of his train loves happens to be Chuggington, so when the chance presented itself to play test the Chuggington Rescue at Rocky Ridgeset I instantly knew that we would be accepting.  The set retails at £39.97 at Asda and from the point of ordering arrived very quickly.



Once the set arrived I soon realised that it was much bigger than I had been anticipating, and of course this reflected in how difficult I found putting it together was. I tried to follow the instructions but my building ability let me down, and I decided to hold fire until Luke could put it together properly for Leo. It really is one of those toys that you want your kids to leave in once piece once it has been built!

Leo was so excited when he saw the Chuggington set ready to play with in the living room, so much so that he had been parading a number of his other trains up and down the tracks before it was even complete.


The set has provided hours of play value since it’s arrival and from a parent’s point of view, it is a nice solid structure for kids to let their imaginations run away with them (as well as their trains!). For the money I think you do get a lot of track, and a generous amount of accessories, and that also includes Wilson Chugga which was a very welcome addition.

The main purpose of this set is to let the trains free fall around it, there are some nice curves and hills that really make Wilson pick up speed. What I really liked is that the trains stuck to the track and didn’t fall off the sides like I have noticed with other train tracks. This meant that Leo could play without getting frustrated that trains were flying here, there and everywhere, and I could relax and watch him playing.


Once it is all together it can be moved around, but pieces do tend to fall off. I have also noticed that the track can sometimes fall out of position if it is played with too vigorously. This hasn’t caused us any issues though and it is a much loved addition to Leo’s train collection.

All of the other Chuggington trains you can see are trains that we had prior to receiving the Rescue at Rocky Ridge set, so you can add to your Chuggington collection over time.

When I first set my eyes on the price I thought that £39.97 was a bit steep for a kids train track, but now having actually seen the size and quality of the set I am rather impressed. The only bit I dislike is just how many pieces there are for it, and just how tricky I find putting it together.


Disclaimer: We were sent the Chuggington Rescue at Rocky Ridge Set for the purpose of this review. All views and opinions expressed are completelt honest and my own.

Monday, 28 July 2014

37 Months Old


A entire month has passed since your 3rd Birthday. A month of new adventures and moments that have marked the 4 weeks since we shared Lightning McQueen cake and celebrated your special day.

You are now 37 months old. 3 years and 1 month.
My ever growing beautiful little man who is constantly exploring and learning.

You have just broken up for your very first summer holiday, 6 whole weeks without any nursery at all. The perfect excuse to get out and about in the sunshine and explore together. You came with me to pick up my new car this week, and you absolutely loved that we could magically fold down the roof and drive along with the wind in our hair. Of course it is now something you demand each and every time we head out in the car!

You have been forming sentences more with each passing week, and we have all been super impressed with your progress. You have been asking more questions like ‘What’s this’, which we have been really pleased about. Up until recently we have never known you ask a single question. After having a parents evening with your nursery teacher late last month, I pushed to get you in for speech therapy, just to help you that little bit further. I would much rather get you the extra support you may need now, just so it is in place if we need it further down the line. With reception now just over a year away I want to get the ball rolling so we can have you fully prepared to start school with your peers.


Over the last week we have been so busy, and you have had such a fantastic time. The fun started last Thursday when we visited In The Night Garden Live, the difference in your character in the year since our first visit was astounding. You were not shy to meet Iggle Piggle, not one little bit. You bounded up to your hero and you hugged him, you kissed him and then you poked him in the eye. Then you told me ‘ I poke Iggle Piggle eye’.

On one of our many road trips I pointed out that Tinkerbell had just flown into the car. By Tinkerbell I meant a dandelion clock. It flew through my window and then proceeded to land on your car seat, when I showed you expecting your reaction to be one full of amazement, I was suddenly presented with one very scared toddler screaming until I moved it away! Apparently you aren’t a huge fairy fan when in such a form!



At 37 months you are still napping during the day, once in the afternoon. You still really adore your sleep even if sometimes it is a battle to get you there. Once in bed you will sleep for an hour or so, sometimes longer. You love your sleep, and I know that you will only wake up in the night if you really need me for one reason or another. You even grant the most rewarding lie in’s! It may be a shock to the system for you when the summer holiday’s come to an end and you head into a busy nursery year.

The potty training is not so much training these days, you wear your pants so well and have very few accidents. In the last week or so of nursery you did have a few more than usual, but we put that down to you being too busy playing and a little lazy! Since then we have been back to being fantastic. You still won’t use the potty for a number 2, and you point blank refuse to use the actual toilet if we go anywhere. After we picked up the Mini we flew into the services so that you could use the toilet, we walked in and you were adamant that you were going to do it…Then of course when the moment was there, you decided against it and made us leave. I then told you that the only other option was to go behind a tree… I showed you where you could go and your face told me exactly how disgusted this idea made you! So then the only option was for you to hold on 10 minutes until we arrived home. Thankfully you did… and there were no accident’s in Mummy’s new car!


I am still adjusting to having a 3 year old, and whenever anyone asks I am still telling them that you are 2. It seems rather crazy that 3 years have come and gone in the blink of an eye, but the memories we have made, the memories we continue to make are evidence enough to where the time has gone. You love it when we curl up in your bed and read stories, your two favourites this month being The 3 Billy Goats Gruff and The 3 Little Pigs. You are so infatuated with the wolf and keep telling me ‘no wolf get me’ and of course ‘wolf outside’. I have told you time and time again how there are no wolves outside and that wolves live in zoo’s. This seems to reassure you, until of course you tell Alice that the wolf is going to gobble her up!

When the story is over you tell me ‘1 more book’, it’s amazing how many books you get for that! Your insatiable love of reading stories with Mummy is by far my favourite time of the day. I have noticed that you are starting to recognise certain words, you now recognise your own name and also the words ‘ding dong’ from you’re In The Night Garden Book. I think over the summer we will see what else you recognise and try to send you back to school  in September to wow your teachers!

With the first week of summer behind us, and seeing how far you have come in that short space of time, I know that when you go back to nursery they are going to be so impressed with just how far you have come over the summer.




Crayola at Zizzi's


Last week my family descended on Zizzi’s in Worcester, it is fair to say that they didn't see us coming. They could not have anticipated the fun in which two toddlers could have while waiting for their dinner to arrive. You see we were there to trial the new menu and enjoy the new Crayola Crayons that our now on hand to entertain the kids in your party while you dine.

I have eaten at Zizzi’s a handful of times before and I have always come away feeling happy with the service I have received. Both of the times prior to our trip into Worcester have been in destinations we have visited on holiday, Bournemouth and more recently Falmouth. As soon as we were seated at our table the waiter very kindly bestowed the crayons upon the children, along with colouring paper that featured the children’s menu.


While the grown up’s feasted their eyes on the menu and began tantalizing their taste buds with the many different dishes, the kids set to work on their masterpieces. Even my 12 year old sister succumbed to the Crayola crayons and even wrote a poem fitting of our evening.


The kids were entertained until the food came along and were so into their creative mind set that they didn't eat right away. Leo decided to eat as he drew, while he made the most of the crayons and fulfilling his appetite.

Yes it is as messy as it may sound..


The adults had a selection of garlic bread to fondue cheese for starters, and were feeling rather full before the main courses even arrived. Of course when the main courses arrived a little while later, we suddenly found the room to accommodate the new arrivals. I had the chicken on a skewer with vegetables and it was absolutely delicious. Everything was piping hot and looked amazing, even the kids thoroughly enjoyed their meals. Leo of course opted for a ham and cheese pizza, his favourite all time toppings for absolutely everything at this moment in time.


What I was really impressed with was how they cater for children, they have small cutlery specifically for little hands and plastic cups in case of any accidental spillages. Now they have even added Crayola to their list of kid friendly benefits I will definitely be re-visiting with Leo. We were really well looked after from the start of our meal to the very end, and nothing was too much trouble.


To make the evening that little bit more magical for Leo we decided to take the train into Worcester, and this definitely scored us big marks. I actually plan on taking Leo back for my birthday on August the 8th, we will be of course visiting Zizzi’s and enjoying another experience there, but we will also be visiting the Odeon cinema to watch the new Planes film.  Last half term Crayola very kindly sent us some cinema tickets to use, but with Leo being very particular with what he wants to watch, it meant we have had to hold onto them until something suitable came along.


If you haven’t yet experienced Zizzi’s, it is a great venue to take the kids along to and now Crayola have arrived at the table, you are sure to be able to enjoy a nice quiet meal while the kids colour until their hearts content.

Thank you Crayola for sending us along to taste test the new menu and enjoy the colouring!

Disclaimer: We visited Zizi’s with Crayola to taste test the new menu and enjoy the Crayola addition in store. All views and opinions expressed are completely honest and my own.


Friday, 25 July 2014

Bugaboo at Harrods

I have kept it no secret that I have a love for pushchairs. I love to take my time and really get to know a pushchair, and over the last 3 years I have been very lucky in the selection that I have been able to try out. One of the brands that I have always admired from a far has been Bugaboo. Bugaboo is a highly coveted brand that is even highly sought after by many celebrities. Celebrities such as Victoria Beckham, Sienna Miller, James Corden and Myleene Klass are all enjoying the Bugaboo brand.

There are 4 different Bugaboo models on the market today to meet individuals personal needs. There are even special edition designs that can make babies ride even more exclusive. 


The Bugaboo Bee is a smart compact urban stroller. It folds away easily to make life extra easy, especially if you have to hop on and off public transport or live in a flat where space is extra valuable. It grows with the baby at each different stage and can be used in conjunction with a range of Bugaboo accessories. 

  • Dimensions unfolded: 53cm wide
  • Dimensions folded: 45cm wide
  • Swivel wheels
  • Foot brake
  • 3-position reclining seat
  • Reversible seat
  • Height adjustable backrest and handlebar
  • 3 year manufacture warranty when registered online at bugaboo.com within 3 months of purchase



The Bugaboo Donkey is a convertible pushchair, and is the only one of it's kind on the market. The pushchair adapts to suit your requirements, one day it could be used for a single child, and the next it can be transformed into a double. It is truly the transformer of the pushchair world. In just 3 simple clicks it can convert from a duo puschair to a mono. One of the most attractive features of the Donkey is the seating positions, being able to reverse the seats means that you can have both children facing you, or have one facing you and one facing out into the world.


  • Removable
  • Sun canopy and apron
  • Canvas fabric UPF 50+
  • Machine wash
  • 3 year manufacture warranty when registered online at bugaboo.com within 3 months of purchase



  • The Bugaboo Cameleon is now on it's 3rd generation with it's light frame and compact fold, making it a attractive option to lift and store away when not in use. The pushchair is suitable from birth and see's you right through to the toddler days, and a time where a pushchair is no longer needed.

  • The Cameleon 3 boasts all terrain wheels and makes your journey's out and about a breeze, whether you are heading to the beach, the city or over rough terrain.

  • Compact modular fold
  • Dimensions unfolded: 60cm wide
  • Dimensions folded (excl. wheels): L90cm x W50cm x D31cm
  • Switch easily from four wheels to two
  • Hand brake
  • Adjustable and rotating handle
  • Reversible and reclining seat
  • Car seat compatible
  • Height adjustable backrest and handlebar
  • Machine washable fabric

    • Take your car seat from the chassis of your Bugaboo to the backseat of your car and back again easily with the Maxi Cosi car seat adapter.
    • 3 year manufacture warranty when registered online at bugaboo.com within 3 months of purchase



    The Bugaboo Buffalo is the latest release from the Bugaboo brand, and has been designed specifically as an all terrain pushchair. The Buffalo is robust, versatile and spacious. It features an extendable sun canopy for extra protection from the elements. 

    The Buffalo is perfectly suited to parents who love to live life adventurously and go where no pushchair has gone before.

    • spacious and easily accessible luggage options
    • all-terrain suitability
    • one piece foldable and self-standing (with carrycot and seat) for easy storage
    • reversible seat
    • two-wheel position
    • rotating carry handle

    Harrods stock a selection from the Bugaboo range, including the Bugaboo Donkey, Bee and Cameleon 3. To compliment the Bugaboo range you can even pick up essential accessories from the much loved brand.


    Disclaimer: This is a featured post.

    Thursday, 24 July 2014

    A Healthier Me - 6 Weeks In


    I am now 6 weeks into my new found ways. I have pushed the temptation of takeaway far, far away and have been attending the gym on a regular basis. In 6 weeks I feel like I have come a long way, my appetite has changed, and I seem to get full on smaller portions of food, not to mention that I have barely touched a single piece of chocolate!

    In the last few weeks my weight loss seems to have plateaued, I reached 9 stone 1lbs and that is exactly where I stayed for the next 12 days. I put this down to being more active in the gym and potentially building up muscle which would mask my actual weight loss. I do need to start taking measurements so that I can have a better idea of my achievements week by week.

    Last Friday I finally lost that pesky pound that had been hanging around, and I found myself at exactly 9 stone. I felt happier about this than I had about the entire weight loss so far, it felt like I was reaching my first milestone, and it felt like I had to work so much harder to achieve it. 

    This week has seen me rejoicing some more, in my 6th week I have now lost 12lbs exactly, bringing my weight in at 8 stone (Yes 8!) and 13lbs! I may have actually beamed from ear to ear when I saw the scales displaying these numbers, in fact I had to triple check just to make sure!

    Phsically I am still not seeing any changes, but I guess as these things happen so gradually over time, I won't notice anything until I look back over the next few months.

    With my new found motivation I am really excited about the months ahead, I am feeling energetic and incredibly motivated. 

    As I have decided to share my weight loss journey I thought that it would be great to share my experiences as I go. I will be talking more in the weeks ahead about how I am getting on and how I am achieving each milestone. I look forward to using the Fitbug Orb to help me push forward and track my goals. I have a few fitness treats arriving over the coming week, and I will be providing full reviews on each of the products. 

    One of the products I am especially excited about is the Brabantia Body Analysis Scales, they offer a whole range of statistics that the average bathroom scales don't. Having only used the average scales we currently own I did feel like I was missing a trick, I can view an accurate measurment of my BMI, weight, body fat, water and muscle percentages. I can even set up a personal profile with my age, gender and height that enables me to keep track of my progress.








    Wednesday, 23 July 2014

    #NetflixStreamTeam - June


    'Me' time becomes pretty scare when you become a parent. It is natures way of telling us that we can forget doing anything for ourselves, well for the first couple of years anyway! Now that Leo is getting older I seem to be getting a better balance, and I have even found myself with some spare time to do things.. for ME! 

    I have recently started the gym and once Leo is in bed I have been treating myself to an hour or so out of the house. I guess that's the one benefit to having to move home, I now have built in babysitters, and as I have tucked Leo up in bed, and read him his bedtime story, I don't feel guilty about doing something completely for myself. 

    Up until I found this new found freedom my evenings would be spent curled up with a new Netflix Boxset, and to be honest even these days I do love nothing more than a quiet evening with my favourite boxsets.

    With June seeing the arrival of Season 2 Orange is the New Black, I very quickly demolished each episode. Now I am more than ready for season 3 to hit the screens! Last month I was invited to Soho to view the screening episode of Season 2... Along with the cast! Yes I was actually in the very same room as Taylor Schilling and Jason Biggs. Jason Biggs for me is someone I have grown up watching on the television, so it was a surreal moment to actually almost meet him!

    When Leo isn't around there are a number of boxsets that I have thoroughly enjoyed from start to finish, one of the ones on my 'must watch list' at the moment is Gossip Girl. This is a series I actually started to watch a couple of months ago, and for some reason I just didn't get into it straight away. Fast forward a couple of months and I cannot get enough of it, I am still on Season 1 at present but I am pleased to see I have 5 more seasons to enjoy ahead of me.

    24 is another show that I just LOVE, no matter how many times I watch this series I can still enjoy it again and again. I have recently caught back up on all of Jack Bauer's bad days in anticipation of the latest season coming around. 

    I will end this post with a selection of my favourite Netflix selections that I enjoy when I do get some coveted time to myself...

    Disclaimer: I was sent everything I needed to get started watching Netflix for the next 12 months. I have not been paid to write this post. All views and opinions expressed are completely honest and my own.











    6 Easy Ways to Improve Your Cooking Skills


    Not everyone is a whizz in the kitchen, but there are some relatively simple things you can do to improve your cooking skills and ensure your next meal is something to be proud of. Take a look…

    Start with the best ingredients

    If you don’t have decent ingredients then you’re already at a big disadvantage. Better ingredients may be a little more expensive but the difference is huge and you’ll instantly notice the difference one you use them. For example, fresh pasta is nicer than dried pasta, whilst fresh fruit is better than tinned. Think about where the produce comes from, so get Italian food that comes from Italy, etc.

    Buy some good knives

    You may think that there’s not a huge amount of difference in the knives you use to prepare ingredients but you couldn’t be more wrong! A good set of knives will make chopping so much easier and quicker, so you can spend more time on other things. As well as the sharpness of the knife, also make sure that it’s weighted correctly. Knives can be expensive so if money is tight then choose a chef knife, paring knife and fillet knife. See here for more information on how to choose a good kitchen knife.

    How good is your cooker?

    As with the knives, it’s important your cooker is up to scratch or you’re going to run into problems. For example, is your oven distributing the heat evenly? If not then you will end up with hotspots which could burn your food. Neff ovens and cookers are some of the best around and should ensure your food is cooked properly.

    Don’t rely on timers

    Even though a recipe might tell you how long to cook something for, only use that time as a guide, not a rule. Cook until the food is done rather than stick to a strict time. Over time you’ll get better and better at recognising when the food is cooked.

    Let meat rest

    When you cook meat, all the juices are pushed to the centre of the meat. If you serve it straight away after cooking then the juices haven’t been given time to redistribute throughout the meat and it will be dry. Leave the meat to stand for half the time it took to cook before serving and it will be much moister.

    Expand your repertoire


    Test yourself and don’t rely on the same old dishes and techniques. You may be able to make a cracking fry-up, but how about trying eggs benedict instead? This means you’ll need to poach the egg, and try making your own hollandaise sauce to go with it. Do you know how to sauté or braise? Pushing yourself to learn new things will make you a better cook, even if you fail the first few times you try. 

    Disclaimer: This is a featured post

    Tuesday, 22 July 2014

    Lovely Budget Photo Gift Ideas for Teens


    When it comes to purchasing a gift for a special teen in your life, it can be difficult to choose something that you know they’ll really love, especially when keeping to a modest budget. However, it’s far from impossible...you may just have to get a little creative!

    The teens of today are of the digital generation and are rarely seen without their favourite tech gadgets, whether it’s a phone, camera, iPod or tablet device...or all of them! Therefore they always seem to be taking photos of one thing or another, so using this theme to choose them something is a sure winner.

    We’ve put together a list of some great budget photo gift ideas for the teen in your life to keep them snap happy on their special day.

    Personalised protective gadget cases and covers
    First of all, why not get them something to help protect the thing they care so much about?! A protective case for their favourite gadget doesn’t have to be boring or dull either (or expensive) as you can get things like customised photo phone and tablet cases at sites like My Photo Gifts. They also do next day delivery phone cases too if you’ve left things a bit last minute. Just upload their favourite snaps and wait for the finished product in the post!


    Photo album or scrap book
    Photo albums always make a great gift and are great for teens to help them keep their special photos safe and in one place. There are loads of nice photo albums on this website, but if you want something a little different you could purchase a scrap book so they can put other mementos alongside their favourite snaps too. This is a great, cheap gift that they’re bound to love.

    Polaroid photo frames
    Everyone loves the appeal of Polaroid snaps as they’re so classic, edgy and trendy. If the budget doesn’t quite stretch to a Polaroid camera, you can always go for the cheaper option of purchasing some Polaroid photo frames instead which will give their favourite photos the effect of being a Polaroid picture.

    Smart phone camera accessories
    Help them take amazing photos on the go of themselves with all their friends without breaking your bank by purchasing a camera accessory for their smart phone camera. There are quite a few different things you can buy, but we like this macro phone lens from Urban Outfitters as it transforms your phone into a fish eye camera. Fish eye lens cameras can be about £50 for a really decent one too, so this £18 accessory is a much budget friendlier option!

    Photo-upload notebooks or diaries

    If they love nothing more than writing and scribbling down their thoughts like lots of teens, a personalised notebook or diary with one of their favourite photos on the front cover is sure to be a winner and won’t set you back too much either, especially as you can get them online pretty cheaply nowadays. 



    Disclaimer: This is a featured post

    Monday, 21 July 2014

    Getting Creative - #CrayolaBlogger

    Leo and I recently shared some very exciting news. We told you all about our new role as #CrayolaBloggers and over the last few weeks we have been having a play with all of the different goodies that we were sent to try out. Over the last half term break we set up a creative space and we sat together and did some colouring. We started off using the Easy Grip Jumbo pencils, as I really like how great they are for little hands. They come in a pack of 8 and are recommended from the age of 12 months and up. I often prefer colouring pencils over anything else, as you can do more with them. You can use the same colour to achieve different shades and textures, ultimately I think this is an important lesson to learn.

    Having said that though, within our Crayola goodie box we have a super selection of the different felt tip pens, my favourite set so far being the big chunky washable markers. I think for younger children these felt tips are a great starting point, they are thicker so they aren’t going to break the tips as easily as they would with regular pens, and as with the Jumbo Pencils they are easier for little hands to hold. They come in a set of 8 and are again suitable from the age of 12 months and up.

    I have always left pencils, crayons and plenty of paper within Leo’s reach. He actually has his own drawing desk where he is free to colour whenever he feels like it. At 3 years old, Leo is now beginning to draw circles and lines within his creations. Deliberate circles and deliberate lines, which is all part of the development process. Very soon he will be consciously drawing pictures, and I think before long we will start to see his imagination truly shine out through his art work.


    To help keep Leo busy over half term Crayola very kindly sent Leo an activity sheet, it had all sorts of different activities for Leo to be getting on with including questions that I helped him answer. It of course had plenty of colouring to be getting on with and was even personalised for ‘The Life and Times of The Working Mum’. Not only had Crayola been kind enough to send us that little treat over, they also sent Leo and I tickets for the Odeon. We are still yet to use these tickets as we ran out of time during the half term, but we will be making a day of it very soon! Leo is so well behaved when we do venture out to the cinema, so I know we will have a great time when we do use these tickets.

    Friday, 18 July 2014

    5 Facts you didn’t know about Dolly Parton


    Unless you are an avid Dolly Parton fan, here are 5 facts that you almost certainly didn’t know about this highly talented singer-songwriter, instrumentalist, writer, actress who is one of the best known celebrities in the country music scene.

    Dolly Parton lost a Dolly Parton lookalike contest


    OK, you might have heard about this one before, but until the singer herself confirmed the fact to ABC news a little while ago it appeared to be little more than a rumour. The contest took place at Halloween on the Santa Monica Boulevard, and all the other competitors were men. Dolly played a self-caricature and lost the competition by a large margin.   Speaking of the event she said “All the guys were dressed up like me and I just over-exaggerated my look and went in and just walked up on stage. I didn't win. I didn't even come in close, I don't think."

    Dolly Parton wouldn’t let Elvis Presley record here song "I Will Always Love You"


    Not everybody knows that it was Dolly Parton who wrote "I Will Always Love You", the hit song that was featured in the movie The Bodyguard in 1992 and sung by Whitney Houston. It is the best selling pop song ever.  Dolly wrote the song in 1973 and released it as a single in 1974 which made it to number 4 in the Billboard Hot Country Songs. Elvis Presley wanted to make a cover version of the song, and no doubt he would have made an excellent job of it; probably a number one hit, but Dolly objected to the fact that he wanted half the publishing rights and so refused to let him have the song. It was a good decision; as a result she made many more millions of dollars out of royalties.

    Dolly Parton had 11 siblings and 3 half siblings


    Dolly was born in Locust Ridge, Tennessee in 1946 and she was the fourth of 12 children. The others were Willadeene, Denver, David, Bobby, Stella, Cassie, Randy, Floyd, Freida, Rachel and Larry who died when very young. However she also had at least 3 half siblings as her father tended to stray somewhat.

    Dolly Parton has composed over 5,000 songs


    Dolly Parton wrote her first song (about a corn doll) when she was just seven years old. Since then she has composed around 5,000 more. She claims to write a song every few days and considers herself to be a songwriter primarily with singing being her second love.

    Dolly Parton has her uncle to thank for recognising her talent and launching her career


    Dolly has her uncle Billy Earl Owens top thank for recognising her talent and kick starting her career. He was so enamoured of her natural talent that he taught here how to play the guitar and helped here with her song writing. He introduced here to Cas Walker who ran a grocery store chain which he promoted on a radio show. She sang live on the show when she was ten years old and the rest is history.

    If you want to see a selection of her 5000 songs live, you can grab tickets from here.

    Wednesday, 16 July 2014

    The Julian Bowen Elite Bed Review


    I recently tried the Julian Bowen Elite King Size Bed , and as I am very fond of my sleep and catching some 'Zzzz's' I was more than happy to take on the task of telling you all about this incredibly luxurious bed.

    It was dispatched and delivered quickly, it was on my doorstep within a few days of placing the order. It came in two large boxes with all of the bits and pieces needed to put it together, I cannot take credit for actually assembling the bed.. But I did watch and it was not over complicated at all. 

    The frame is constructed out of wood, as are the slats that go across the bed to hold the mattress in place. From how it has all gone together I am confident that this bed is set to last, the finished bed is structurally sound and has so far demonstrated a real resistance to toddler bouncing. Unfortunately toddlers do bounce.. A lot.  

    What I love about this bed is just how luxurious it looks, the high faux leather headboard is similar to one you would find in a fancy London Boutique Hotel, and it is all completely solid and finished to the standards I would expect of said swanky hotel bed.

    The Julian Bowen bed features a really impressive headboard that stands at 125cm off the floor. I have found it in-valuable for leaning against when I am reading in bed (Twitter counts as reading...right?). It is nicely padded so that I don't get un-comfortable when I am sitting there schmoozing what is being shown on the television, and for those mornings that I just can't bring myself to get out of bed just yet. 

    The measurements of this bed are 150cm by 218cm and after upgrading to a king size bed from a small double, it is safe to say I can feel the difference in the amount of room available to me on any given night. Even when Leo decides to come and star fish in the middle of the bed, there is still plenty of room for me to stretch out comfortably.

    After the bed arrived I had to upgrade to a king size mattress, and after only ever having hand me down mattress's I decided it was my time to spring for a memory foam mattress. I was obviously feeling like spoiling myself, and I am so glad that I did. This bed combined with the new mattress is actually my idea of heaven, and when Leo does decide he is going to wake up in the night because he has dropped his Lightning McQueen car out of the cot.. Well it just makes it even harder for me to prise myself from my bed.

    I absolutely love the look of this bed, and it is incredibly comfortable to sleep on. With the mattress on the bed it is quite a height off the floor, but how much depends on just how thick the mattress is you place on it. I quite like having this height when getting into bed, it makes it easier to get in and out of in the grand scheme of things. But even Leo can get in and out without any issues so it is not too high to keep the little people in your life at bay.

    If you were thinking of storing things under your new Julian Bowen bed, then this is where you may fall short. There isn't much room at all under the bed, and you definitely won’t fit any storage boxes underneath. Personally for me though this isn't an issue. I have a big double wardrobe with lots of storage capability, so anything that was once under the bed is now safely stored away in the wardrobe. I am actually quite glad that the bed comes down so low, as I am always finding things that have gone AWOL under the bed, so this gives me a fighting chance of actually knowing where things are. 

    Having said that though.. It will be a struggle if Leo accidentally drops something down the back of the headboard, as that won't be very easy to get to. 

    All I have to do now is invest in a new duvet cover set for the bed, and I have been checking out the selection over at The Range as they have some really nice items available. I have the perfect image in my mind, and I am actually opting for the Shimmer Black Bedding. I think this is going to look really great against the faux leather. 

    Over all I am really impressed with the Julian Bowen Elite King Size Bed. It is everything I could ask for, and has definitely made me look forward to bed time a little more each night. For the money it is actually a real bargain, it costs just £229.99 and includes free delivery. 



    What more could you want out of a bed?


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    I'm Still Around!



    It has certainly been quieter than usual around here lately, what with the house move and everything else that has been going on, there hasn't been time to catch a breath let alone blog about it! You see real life has been getting in the way of late, and among all of that I have been taking some time to do something new for myself.

    I have pulled out a selfish card and put it to use straight away, since moving back home last month I decided it was now or never to give myself a theoretical kick up the back side… and I started the gym. Over the past few weeks the hours that I would usually spend catching up on blog posts, have been spent grafting in the gym.

    I am feeling so positive about everything, and I love being able to do something just for me. I have been getting in from work and getting Leo ready to bed and off to the land of nod, and then handing the baby monitor over to Granny so that I can pop out for an hour or so. The silver lining to being back at home, is being able to leave the house in a evening, and the even more amazing thing is that I am not missing out on any time with my favourite little man.

    In just under a month I have lost 10lbs, and it came away so much easier than I ever expected (Once I let go of chocolate and Coca Cola!). This month it seems to have halted and I haven’t lost any more, however I have maintained my loss thus far which is a reason to keep on feeling determined. I am by no means over weight, but for me to feel comfortable in my own skin I need to shed a few more lbs and get toning!

    Leo has adapted really well to being back at Granny’s and it hasn’t taken long to get his room together. He has his car bed pride of place along with all of his worldly possessions. If anything Leo is loving being back at Granny’s and the change has just been an easy adjustment for him.

    Over the weekend we even had our very first movie night, we were due to go to our local river festival and see the boats all lit up with twinkly lights. However rain put a stop to that and we decided to tuck up together in bed and watch Ice Age with a bag of Toffee Popcorn, Leo absolutely loved it. It was our very first movie night, and having Leo at an age where we can snuggle up with a good family film is just lovely. Leo had such a fun evening that the next morning he demanded to watch Ice Age with.. *wait for it* a bag of popcorn! I get the feeling we will be making this a regular activity!

    My selfish card is also extending into vehicles… I am finally getting the pennies together and upgrading my clapped out car. The plan is to treat myself to a convertible Mini Cooper in the next few months!

    Although life has been much busier than usual and I have been much quieter, I am still around. Normal service is being resumed and I am feeling so incredibly positive about absolutely everything that is happening.




    Tuesday, 15 July 2014

    Visiting London


    Earlier this year we took Leo into London to experience some of the sights for the very first time. With Leo then being 2 and a half, we thought this would be a great age to introduce the adventure that can be found in our capital city. 


    We knew that we were going to have to take part in family friendly activities and at the very top of our list was the London Eye. I knew that my mischievous two year old was going to absolutely love gliding through the sky looking out over the big city. We boarded our pod and Leo was un-leashed on the un-suspecting passengers lucky enough to be in our pod. He went from window to window until he found the train line, and he watched the trains as they went back and forth. Then of course he discovered the big red button, the button that the likes of you and I know that you shouldn't touch... Unless of course there is an emergency! Leo however made a play for this button within minutes of being on board, for a moment the whole scene played out in slow motion. Thankfully he was a few inches too short.


    There is so much to do in London as a family, even with kids as young as Leo was earlier this year. Better yet there are activities that you can do on a budget. The Natural History Museum and the Science Museum are both fantastic days out, and are completely free to visit. Having a dinosaur mad little boy on my hands we will definitely be heading back to London in the not so distant future so that we can take advantage of both of these attractions. 


    When travelling anywhere as a family there are a few Do's and Don'ts that are always handy to consider before planning your trip.

    Do

    - Look into the attractions you would like to visit to make sure that they are appropriate for everyone in your group.

    - Book family restaurants so that everyone is catered for. I highly recommend the Rain forest Cafe.

    - Choose your hotel location so that you benefit from being close to central London, and also have access to the great outdoors. Hyde Park is ideal with a number of Hotel Direct family friendly hotels, not to mention the walks that can be taken in the beautiful park.



    Don't

    - Don't hop straight into a taxi, part of the fun is getting lost. Leo thoroughly enjoyed wondering around taking in the new sights.

    - Don't worry that your children will play up. In my experience the restaurants are fully prepared for toddler melt downs and come prepared with lot's of coluring and paper to get them (and you) through the meal.

    - Don't forget to make the most of your time in London, get out there and enjoy the time with your family. There is so much to see and do!

    Disclaimer: This is a featured post