30 Dec 2014

Our Family Time at Center Parcs

Back in September this year, I was fortunate to be selected to join the Center Parcs Family Blogger Club, hosted by Center Parcs UK in association with Tots100. If you are a UK-based parent blogger, you have obviously heard of both. If not, CenterParcs is a one-of-its kind fantastic holiday destination for all the family. And Tots100 is an index of UK parent bloggers.

As I said, I was delighted to be a wildcard winner of the Center Parcs Family Blogger Club and wasted no time at all in planning our short break. I usually don’t do winter holidays; the cold just doesn’t agree with me. But I decided to bite the bullet this once, for the sake of my three-year-old little boy, and visit the Winter Wonderland at Whinfell Forest.

23 Dec 2014

Christmas Crafts at the #LauraAshleyXmas Event

It was last Sunday when I was invited to attend the Laura Ashley Christmas Crafts event and came face to face with my nemesis of many years - the sewing machine. I see that it has undergone dramatic modernisation since our last encounter years ago, when I so successfully managed to destroy my Mother's trusty old Singer of many years.

I had accepted the invitation to try my hand at some Christmas crafts, and I was not about to shrink from the challenge. But it was with an element of apprehension that I cautiously approached this new-fangled piece of technology masquerading as a sewing machine.

16 Dec 2014

School Run Colours #5

It's the most wonderful time of the year. Christmas is all around us. We are in the grips of Jingle Bells and Rudolph's red nose at the moment. So it is only apt that I try and capture a little bit of that festive spirit for this week's School Run Colours.         

I am also linking up to The Prompt with my Christmas haiku.

Fairy lights dancing
Piercing inky darkness
Cold nights aglow

School Run Colours
If you are new to the School Run Colours linky, you can read more about it here.  To find out how I ended up being inspired to start this linky, please visit my previous post School Run Colours - My Brand New Linky

I would love it if you added the School Run Colours badge to your post, and if you followed me on twitter (@vaichin). Please use the hashtag #SchoolRunColours on social media, so we can spread the word. I will be pinning all linked up posts to my Pinterest board School Run Colours. It would be great if you could follow the board too. So let's link up, comment, share and spread the love. 

School Run Colours is taking a little break over the festive season as school is out and there is no school run! But we will be back up and running in the New Year. In the meantime, here's wishing you all a very happy Christmas and a wonderful New Year. xxx

School Run Colours

15 Dec 2014

Pretty Bijous Jewellery Review

Like most females of my species, I too am partial to beautiful pieces of jewellery. It doesn’t always have to be bling, although there are very few times when I will willingly refuse a diamond-encrusted tiara. For me, a piece of jewellery has to reflect my mood, complement my personality and make a statement.

Pretty Bijous Jewellery

Pretty Bijous promise to offer just that with their original handcrafted art jewellery. They offer four trendy collections of necklaces, earrings and rings at the moment. Ocean Breeze, Tribal, Mystique and Tutti Frutti – the collections are as varied and colourful as their names suggest.

Pretty Bijous Jewellery

The best part is that being handcrafted, each piece is unique. So there will never be the danger of somebody else wearing the exact same design as you.

Pretty Bijous Jewellery

The earrings are made of polymer clay and are finished with nickel-free silver plated jump rings and fishhook earring wire. Satin glaze is used to finish the look, however they are not too shiny and glossy. They are fairly lightweight as well.

Pretty Bijous Jewellery

The pair I was sent is in pretty earthy brown hues. Each earring is slightly bigger than a 10 pence coin. A good size if you are setting about making a fashion statement. The patterns on the pair are similar, but not exacting, which lends to their charm. I like the attention to detail in that the reverse sides are distinctly unique as well.

Pretty Bijous Jewellery

The Pretty Bijous ring I was sent is reminiscent of a tiger’s eye gemstone. It is a nice chunky piece that sits on an adjustable ring base, so it can fit a range of differently sized fingers. 

Pretty Bijous Jewellery

If you are still looking for a last minute Christmas present, here is your chance to pick up a piece of beautiful statement jewellery at a good price. Pretty Bijous has kindly offered to give my lovely readers a 15% discount if purchasing before 28th December 2014.  Just use the code BIJOUS15OFF at checkout.

Disclaimer: I was sent a pair of Pretty Bijous earrings and a ring for the purpose of this review. All opinions are my own.

8 Dec 2014

Personalised Letterbox Cake by BakerDays: A Review

So what is better than a cake? A personalised cake that tastes just as good as it looks. Or perhaps even better than it looks. BakerDays offered me just such a cake to review.

BakerDays are the personalised cake specialists that deliver delicious cakes straight to your home. The process is really quite simple. Well, I say simple. But it is no easy task when you have a choice of over 500 designs and six flavour options to choose from. Apart from the usual small, medium and large sizes, BakerDays offer a fun and fantastic option of the Letterbox Cake.

Personalised Letterbox Cake by BakerDays

5 Dec 2014

The 12 Smells of Christmas by Febreze : A Giveaway

It's beginning to smell a lot like Christmas! The clean, lush scent of a Christmas tree, the sweet spice of warm gingerbread and the rich tang of mulled wine; we all love to smell our favourite festive scents during the holidays...but not-so-nice aromas also have a habit of lingering in the excitement-charged air!

Whether they are nasty or nice, these 12 smells of Christmas all play a part in the festive season, but with Febreze's Christmas scents to hand there should never be a reason to let any stinky scents ruin your holiday buzz.

So whether it is the sweetness of Vanilla Latte, the traditional warm infusions of Apple & Spice or Warm Cedarwood, the fresh fragrance of Winter Garden or a light spritz of Festive Spice, Febreze's new collection of seasonal scents are the perfect perfumed accessory to keep your home smelling just right this Christmas.

Febreze UK have kindly agreed to gift one of my readers a lovely 'The 12 Smells of Christmas' gift hamper similar to the one shown below. You can enter the giveaway via the Rafflecopter widget at the end of this post. Good luck! And have a lovely, fragrant Christmas.

The 12 Smells of Christmas Gift Hamper Giveaway

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Disclaimer: I was gifted a hamper by Febreze UK to host this giveaway. No other compensation was received.

3 Dec 2014

#ClearAPlate to End Food Poverty

I was brought up to believe that food is a precious commodity that deserves to be revered. Coming from a deeply religious Hindu family, the concept that food is to be treated with the same respect and devotion as God was one that got ingrained into my conscience at a very early age. My parents never spared any opportunity to reinforce the belief that to waste food willy-nilly without a just cause was nothing short of a sin!

The concept was difficult for me to fathom as a child, especially as I was fortunate enough to have enough on my plate and more, at any meal of any day. As I grew up, I became more and more aware of the reason behind my parents' insistence on avoiding food waste.

While there are many of us living in comfort and taking all our meals for granted, there are those who are not so sure about where their next meal is going to come from, if at all. Contrary to popular belief, it is not just people in the developing countries around the globe that are facing the horror of starvation.

It is very unfortunate that there are families right here in the UK for whom hunger is only too real. New research out in November this year shows that not being able to feed ourselves or our children is a very real concern for many families across the UK. 42% of households consider it difficult to live on their income, with 20% of these struggling families borrowing money from family or friends in order to feed themselves and their children. Shockingly 22% of the parents in these families even go without food so that their children can eat. Yet 75% of us continue to throw away food that could have been eaten.

Unilever have launched Project Sunlight with the hope to make this world a better place for our children to inherit. The #ClearAPlate campaign is an off-shoot of this project. Working in partnership with Oxfam, the aim is to 'waste not, want not', to provide meals to struggling families here in the UK.


It really does not take a lot of effort to stop food waste. Here are 5 really simple ways by which you can stop food waste and do your bit to put an end to food poverty.

5 Easy Ways to Stop Food Waste:

1) Meal planning: Try and chart out a weekly plan for all your meals. That way, you will know exactly what and how much of anything you need to buy. It will help you budget better as well.

2) Shopping lists: This is the next logical step to meal planning. Once you know what you are eating through the week, it is only right that you list out all that you need to buy to make those meals. I find shopping lists extremely useful when I do my grocery shop. They allow me to stay focussed on what I actually need to buy, rather than being distracted by all the promotions on supermarket shelves.
Doing your grocery shopping on-line might be another useful way to stick to your shopping list and budget and to avoid being carried away by promotions.

3) Use by and Best before: The Food Standards Agency (FSA) has clear guidelines with regards to 'use by' and 'best before' dates on food packaging. 'Use by' is for perishable foods that go off quickly, like meats, ready-prepared salads and other products in chilled cabinets in the supermarket. Eating products after the 'use by' date can prove to be a health hazard.

'Best before' is for frozen, dried, tinned and other foods. This is more about quality than safety. Eating something beyond its 'best before' date doesn't mean the food will be harmful, but it might begin to lose its flavour and texture.

Knowing what can be eaten and by when can go a long way in avoiding waste.

4) Safely store and use leftovers: This is a key factor in avoiding food waste. Simple, small steps like freezing extra portions, refrigerating left-overs and creating new recipes with them can make all the difference between salvaging food and binning it.

Instead of throwing out those black, over-ripe bananas, try baking with them. The result is guaranteed to bring a smile to your face.

5) Portion sizes: This is such a small change to adopt in our everyday lives, but one that can make a huge impact in the long run. Instead of taking huge portions and then throwing leftovers in the bin, just take smaller portions to start with. You can always go back for seconds. You may even notice a shrinking waistline as a side-effect!

Five really simple things that can make such a big difference. Not only for the cause of preventing food waste, but also to your pocket. Think about how much you will save in a year as a family by incorporating these small little changes in your daily routines.

We are on the threshold of a new year, a time to make new resolutions. A time to act against food poverty and to do your bit to put an end to food waste.

I have joined forces with Unilever and the #ClearAPlate campaign to bring you a competition, one that will hopefully inspire you to pledge your support to this cause.

image courtesy Project Sunlight and #ClearAPlate

One of you, my readers, are in with a chance of winning a fantastic hamper worth £50. It will include a colourful kitchen whisk, measuring spoons, fridge magnets with imperial/metric conversions, a measuring jug, multicoloured stacking food containers, reusable cupcake cases, an egg timer, a shopping list/meal planner notebook, a window planter with seeds and a Leftovers Cookbook. 

You can enter via the Rafflecopter widget below. Good luck! 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Disclaimer: I am running this competition on behalf of the team at Unilever and #ClearAPlate. I am also linking up with Mumsnet in the hope of winning a pair of tickets to BlogFest 2015. I have not received any compensation to do either of these things. 

2 Dec 2014

School Run Colours #4

I have been really pleased with the interest people have shown in the School Run Colours linky over this last week. Although I still don't have many people linking in, I like that the concept has sparked some interest in the blogosphere. 

I started this linky to try and make the mundane a little more interesting. The idea was to walk to school (or cycle or scoot). Anything but take the car. And try and spot colour while doing so, letting it inspire you to be creative. 

Now, quite a few of my readers have commented that they do not do the school run. You can still take part in the linky. As long as you are walking, it does not matter where to. You could be walking to work, or to the shops or to run an errand. If you could have taken the car, but have opted not to, you then have the opportunity to appreciate your surroundings. And that is what this linky is about.

So whether you do the school run or not, you are very welcome to join in with School Run Colours.

My school run colours this week capture fallen autumn leaves.

School Run Colours

Faded leaves scatter
Lifeless rustling careless fling
Waiting to be crushed

If you are new to the School Run Colours linky, you can read more about it here.  To find out how I ended up being inspired to start this linky, please visit my previous post School Run Colours - My Brand New Linky

I would love it if you added the School Run Colours badge to your post, and if you followed me on twitter (@vaichin). Please use the hashtag #SchoolRunColours when sharing your posts on social media, so we can spread the word. I will be pinning all linked up posts to my Pinterest board School Run Colours. It would be great if you could follow the board too.

School Run Colours

30 Nov 2014

Minted - the Online Stationary Store

I may not have a flair for design, but I can appreciate good art when I see it. Whether it is being amazed by the work of masters or noticing extraordinary creations around me in everyday life, I enjoy the beauty and creativity that a work of art represents. So I was really please when Minted - the online stationary store got in touch with me to work with them.

Minted is not your run-of-the-mill stationary store. They are a design marketplace connecting consumers with the world's best independent artists, thereby offering people the chance to discover creative talent that they would not have access to through traditional retailers. Moreover, every piece can be customised to make it just that little bit more special.

For this festive season, Minted are offering a new and completely different family of products. From limited edition artwork to festive holiday cards, there is a wide range to choose from. There is a very novel gift section where you can even choose a map of your favourite US state or the British Isles to hang on your wall.

Here are a few of my absolute favourites from Minted. I have picked my top 12, just in keeping with the spirit of the season.

Flowers -  by Alexandra Dzh
This limited edition bold watercolour wall art print is meant to bring the bright colours and light spirit of summer to your home the whole year round. I particularly liked the vibrant colours and the composition of this piece.

timeless greeting holiday photo cards - by b.wise papers
This is part of the new collection of holiday photo cards. You can personalise the card with your own special photo. You even have the option to add on a custom back or interior. So you can actually add more than just one photo and write a detailed message to go with it.

British Isles Map -by GeekInk Design
This belongs to the foil-stamped wall art series and includes maps of France, Germany and individual states of the United States. There are a few city maps as well. Like all the wall art, you can choose the size and frame for each piece, or just opt for the cheaper unframed option.

a little christmas whimsy foil-pressed holiday cards by laura bolter design
This is part of the non-photo holiday cards series. These foil pressed cards are new to Minted this season. You have the option to choose from gold, silver, or rose gold foil. I love how the card shimmers and sparkle when viewed from different angles. For me, the red and gold epitomises Christmas perfectly.

Within Letters of You by Heather Francisco
These are part of the very varied Wall Art Prints series. I really liked this concept of personalising your choice of letter. It would make the perfect gift for that special someone. I chose to highlight J, rather obviously. (If you read my blog regularly, you will know why. If not, the only way to find out is by reading more of my blog!)

Personalised kid’s art does not get better than this.
All Aboard by One Little Bird showcases a red London bus with the option to personalise it with lots of detail like name, personality traits, favourite things, maybe even a special date. What little person would not like to have that hanging in their room? I can think of one who most definitely would.

I really liked the concept of this foil-stamped photo art. Titled In the East
by Olivia Kanaley, it is a lovely reminder of family holidays with a bit of sparkle and shine thrown in to mark the festive season. Personalised with the right photo, this could be the perfect holiday card for this season.

I was struck by the novelty of this idea. A holiday card in the form of a keepsake tree ornament that friends and family are certain to cherish. This particular one is called
vintage swirl and is by hooray creative.
Pre-cut luxe linen ribbons (10" long) are included with your order for you to tie to your ornaments.

delicate twigs holiday booklette card
by oscar & emma
The booklette card is another new and unique idea from Minted. You get 8 pages of photos and text in gold staple binding and chic rounded corners and you don't even pay extra postage for it. It is a beautiful way to share your annual highlights with loved ones.

twilight stars business holiday cards
by coco paperie
I was struck by the simplicity of this card. Minimalistic, yet striking, it makes a great statement card for your business.

Typography Wall Art Prints
...to the moon and back
limited edition print by Matthew Taylor Wilson

This is one of my all-time favourite lines from any book. It very aptly summarises a parent's love for their child. I like how the artist has used the moon to ink in these very emotional words. 

My Funny Family Tree by Jessie Steury is part of the family heirloom art series. Easily personalised, this is a great way to keep track of all your cousins.
I think this would make a lovely present for a much-loved family member. A grand-parent perhaps?

So here is a small sample, an appetiser almost, of all that Minted has to offer. Why not pop over and see what catches your eye? There may even be a deal to be had!

Disclaimer: All images courtesy Minted. I was offered credit to use on the Minted website in exchange for this post. All opinions expressed are my own.

Ox Pasture Hall Hotel in Yorkshire - a Review

I was delighted to be invited as a guest of the Ox Pasture Hall Country House Hotel in Yorkshire. I was offered a choice of dates for my visit and I opted to go over my birthday weekend.

The hotel is set in seventeen acres of enchanting gardens and grounds in the beautiful North Yorkshire Moors National Park, just a few minutes from the seaside resort of Scarborough, which makes it the ideal base from which to explore the beautiful North Yorkshire countryside.

The satnav took us to the edge of a field that was a grazing ground for horses. We pulled up at the side of the road and called  the hotel to ask for directions. Turns out we were about 500 yards from the entrance!

I was struck by the tranquil  surroundings even as we pulled up in the car park of the Ox Pasture House Hotel. We were greeted on arrival at reception by Lynsey, the manager. She was very friendly and welcoming and the check-in proceeded smoothly. Lynsey even helped carry our luggage to our room.

28 Nov 2014

Musicroom - The Christmas Gift Finder Online Amp

Music. Seven notes to strike a chord, to make harmonies. You do not have to be an X-Factor wannabe to appreciate music. You do not have to be a musician to enjoy music. All you need is an appreciation of great sounds.

My love of music can be traced back to my school days. I never had what is traditionally considered a melodious voice, and have had very little formal musical training. But I can hold a tune if my life depended on it. I love singing around the house while doing chores. Most of these are karaoke performances, with a track playing in the background and me joining in.

There was a long hiatus in my musical journey as I made my way through life. The birth of my first-born changed all that. I started singing again. Lullabies and nursery rhymes were soon replaced by more grown-up tunes. So much, that I am now part of a choir about to perform this Christmas!

My son seems to have inherited my love of music. Although quite young, he has displayed tremendous enthusiasm when it comes to singing harmonies with me. He loves trying to play tunes on his little keyboard as well.

The logical thing to do is to get him a music-themed present for Christmas. That is exactly what I intend to do, with a little help from Musicroom.

Musicroom have recently launched The Christmas Gift Finder Online Amp. Yes, you read that right. It is an Amp. Actually, an online app designed to look like an amp. It has really cool dials letting you select categories, so it’s fun to use. Rather apt when you are looking for a music-based gift, I think.

The Christmas Gift Finder Amp searches through a range of instruments, sheet music and song books, as well as music related gifts – band & artist autobiographies, quirky mugs and glasses, jewellery like stud earrings and brooches, edible treats such as chocolate, games perfect for Christmas day, band and guitar brand logo t-shirts, stationary… the list is endless!

As the person looking for the perfect music-based present, you start with the amp, then tweak the dials to let the amp know who you are buying for, what type of gift you are looking for and how much you would like to spend. The amp then presents you with the perfect gift idea, along with an instant way to buy it.

Here are a few pins from the Musicroom that I have on my Pinterest board. Why not pop over and have a look at some of the selection of fun, funky and functional Christmas presents that the Musicroom has to offer. There is a wide variety of items from socks to jewellery to kitchenware to more serious stuff like instruments, sheet music and training CDs. And I think I may have found just the thing to get my little boy more involved with music. I might even pick up a thing or two for the husband and me while I am there.

One thing is for certain. No matter what your taste in music, and no matter who you are chosing a present for, the Musicroom gift finder amp is sure to bring up something that everyone likes.

Disclaimer: I was given a voucher to spend at Musicroom in exchange for this post. All opinions are my own.

27 Nov 2014

A Lot to be Thankful For

I am thankful for the piles of laundry
Means I have clothes to wear
Thankful for the creaking floor-boards
I have a roof over my head.

I am thankful for the oven needing repair
Means I have bread to bake
Thankful for leftovers in the fridge
I have food on my plate.

I am thankful for the repeat prescriptions
Means I can care for my health
Thankful for the bills through the letterbox
I can share what little wealth.

I am thankful for all the clutter
Means I have enough space
Thankful for the lines and wrinkles
I am ageing with grace.

I am thankful for the duvet wars
Means I have a caring partner in my bed
Thankful for the tears and tantrums
I have a child loving me no end.


26 Nov 2014

Slow-Cooked Sausage and Five Bean Stew

I have been meaning to get myself a slow-cooker for a very long time. Last week, the husband surprised me by picking one up at the local Aldi store for the bargain price of £16.99. So now I am the proud owner of a shiny red large Crofton slow cooker.

Now, I have read a lot about the health benefits of a slow-cooker. And I have browsed through a lot of slow-cooker recipes. But it was with a hint of trepidation that I lovingly unpacked my new acquisition. I set it on the kitchen counter, pondering my next move. At one point, I even thought of putting some water in the outer housing unit! In all honesty, that is how my old-fashioned pressure cooker works - it needs water to produce steam. So you can't blame me for thinking my fancy new gadget was going to as well.

Thank goodness, good sense prevailed and I grabbed the instruction manual before I acted on my frankly daft instinct. After I had read through from cover to cover, I felt mildly confident about rustling up my first ever slow-cooked meal. True to form, and much to M's chagrin, I decided to do it my way, with my own recipe.

The scrumptious pack of 'good little sausages' by the Good Little Company that the good people at Ocado had kindly sent me served as just the right inspiration.

So here's how I got on with my slow-cooked sausage and five bean stew.

Slow-Cooked Sausage and Five Bean Stew


300 grams sausages
1 medium onion, finely diced 
3-4 cloves of garlic, crushed 
500 grams carrots, sliced
1 can (415 grams) Heinz Five Beanz
1 can chopped tomatoes in tomato juice
2 tbspn vegetable oil
350 ml vegetable stock 
1 tspn Italian herb seasoning
Salt to taste

To make the slow-cooked sausage and five bean stew:

  • Heat the oil in a saucepan and brown the sausages on a moderate heat for 5-7 minutes.
  • Add the garlic and the onions and brown everything together for another 5 minutes.
  • Layer the sliced carrots in the bottom of the ceramic pot of the slow cooker.
  • Add the browned sausages, onions and garlic.
  • Pour over 350 mls of warm vegetable stock.
  • Add the cans of five beanz and tomatoes.
  • Season with salt and the Italian seasoning.
  • Cook on the low heat setting of your slow cooker for 6-7 hours.
  • Serve with mashed potatoes, bread or rice.

Slow-Cooked Sausage and Five Bean Stew

The result was a hearty stew, the perfect winter warmer. It went down a treat, not just with the grown-ups, but with my three year old little boy too. 

Disclaimer: I was sent a batch of groceries by Ocado as part of their #kidspanel. All opinions expressed are my own. 

25 Nov 2014

School Run Colours #3

It is week 3, and I am, contrary to all my expectations, persisting with my School Run Colours linky. A huge thank you to Merlinda and Sara who joined in last week with their very own school run colours.

It has not been easy to keep up with the walking/cycling/scooting to and from school this week. Dropping temperatures and bleak days have done nothing to help my resolve of completely ditching the car for our school run.

But my three year old is an inspiration. Unlike his mother, he thrives in the cold weather and insists on scooting or cycling or walking to school. Even when it rains, because then puddle-jumping as a sport comes into its own.

So egged on by J, I have continued to walk to and from school. There are days when I park the car half-way there and then walk the rest of the way. I do make a serious effort not to drive all the way to the school gates. That would completel defeat the purpose of School Run Colours.

Slowly and steadily, I am getting used to walking four miles every day. I will get there in the end.

In the meantime, two miles daily is a good start. And a great way to capture colour and be inspired by it. 

School Run Colours

Cold winter sunshine
Rubies sparkle, alluring
Beware, ever-green thorn traps.

If you are new to the School Run Colours linky, you can read more about it here.  To find out how I ended up being inspired to start this linky, please visit my previous post School Run Colours - My Brand New Linky

I would love it if you added the School Run Colours badge to your post, and if you followed me on twitter (@vaichin). Please use the hashtag #SchoolRunColours when sharing your posts on social media, so we can spread the word. I will be pinning all linked up posts to my Pinterest board School Run Colours. It would be great if you could follow the board.

School Run Colours

24 Nov 2014

Ideal Home Show at Christmas

The Ideal Home Show returned to Event City in Manchester with a Christmas spectacular last weekend, and I was delighted to attend. Due to other commitments, I had to forego the chance to attend the grand opening on day 1 with all the celebrities in attendance. I missed the chance to see my favourite chef Gino D'Acampo in action, but I was not about to miss the Show itself.

So with M and J in tow, I made it to day 2 of the Ideal Home Show. The event did not disappoint, and more than lived up to all my expectations.

The venue was transformed into a winter wonderland with lots of Christmas trees, fairy lights and artificial snow. There was even a Christmas Bandstand with choirs and singers from across the region adding to the festive atmosphere. There was no dearth of festive inspiration and Christmas-based shopping either. From an array of decorations to a range of potential presents to choose from, there was something for everyone. The radio partners to the Show, Smooth FM, got right into the spirit of the season with a very handy free gift-wrapping service on-site.

The Ideal Home Show at Christmas, Manchester

We spent most of our day wandering about the numerous stalls, trying this, sampling that, buying another, and then some more. Unsurprisingly, the food and drink section took up most of our day. There were some really good products available, from the more traditional mulled wines, to the innovative British mulled cider. In the end, we settled for a selection of drinks from Cwm-Deri Vineyard.

The Ideal Home Show at Christmas, Manchester

There was a wide range of sweet and savoury foods to choose from. I caved in to the pressure from my sweet tooth and ended up buying some utterly divine fudge from Matt and Ben's Proper Fudge Company and a selection of cakes from The little round cake company.

The Ideal Home Show at Christmas, Manchester

The lighting section of the Ideal Home Show was another one that really caught our eye. There is something about chandeliers that just screams opulence. Some of the light fittings in our house are quite dated, and we have been on the look-out for something more modern for a while now. After a huge amount of speculation and debate, M and I finally settled on something we like, from Luminer.

The Ideal Home Show at Christmas, Manchester

It was not all just shopping at the Ideal Home Show. There was plenty of fun to be had as well. How else do you think my three year old survived his mother's retail therapy? Go Compare, the sponsors, had a giant snow globe that you could step inside of, and have a picture taken that then got made into a key ring. J even found a shiny golden throne and pretended to be king.

The Ideal Home Show at Christmas, Manchester

Virgin Media had set up what proved to be a very popular cinema theatre. We caught a little bit of Miracle on 34th street, with J relaxing on some bean bags with a bottle of juice, while M and I got ourselves a couple of minutes of quiet and coffee.

The Greg Wallace Restaurant was as popular as expected, so we passed the opportunity to have a sumptuous afternoon tea. But the Hamleys stand got all the attention it deserved from my little boy. We had to pry him away, almost, but not quite, kicking and screaming.

The Ideal Home Show at Christmas, Manchester

The Ideal Home Show at Christmas was a shopper's paradise. With over 300 stalls covering everything from Christmas gifts and decorations to home improvements, food and drink, beauty and technology, we were spoilt for choice. If only I had a lot more money, and a lot more space to house everything in, I would probably have bought a good few more things. Maybe next time.

Disclaimer: I was given a pair of tickets to attend the Ideal Home Show at Christmas in Manchester in exchange for this post. All opinions are my own.

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