30 Dec 2017

Blog Self Assessment - How Was 2017 For Your Blog?

Another year come and gone
A sense of déjà vu,
Try and restore some calm.

A lot has happened in 2017, in my life and the world around me.

There is no point in me dwelling on what has happened in the world. The good, the bad and the positively ugly - there are enough TV shows and newspapers running round-ups of how intense the year has been.

22 Dec 2017

Red Riding Hood and the Wolf at HOME, Manchester - Review

We’ve been meaning to visit HOME in Manchester for a while now, especially as I was a regular at the Cornerhouse before the kids. 

We got our chance this Christmas when we were invited to watch Red Riding Hood and the Wolf. 

21 Dec 2017

Green Energy - We Owe It To Ourselves

I was out Christmas shopping at the Trafford Centre recently and happened to watch one of the car demos they often do in the foyers. It was a massive 7-seater SUV, very modern and very striking. Closer inspection revealed it to be a Tesla. Only, this was an electric car like no other I had ever seen.

 The time has come to phase out the internal combustion engine altogether in favour of greener, more sustainable options. No matter what anyone says, and there are many with a vested interest who will try and convince you otherwise, green energy is the need of the day.

19 Dec 2017

Read 18 Books in 2018 - A Reading Challenge

I set myself an ambitious reading challenge at the beginning of this year. It was to read 24 books over the course of 12 months.

So how did I do?

Challenge yourself to read 18 books in 2018. Here are ideas that I hope will inspire me, and you, my reader, to choose your next book.

Around the World in 80 Days at The Lowry, Manchester - a Review

Christmas at The Lowry is always special and this year is no exception. With a line-up of amazing family theatre, there is something fabulous for everyone. Elf – The Musical has warm hugs for a festive feel. The Gruffalo is set to delight fans, young and old. And if terrific comedy and adventure stories are your thing, then Around The World in 80 Days is not to be missed.

If terrific comedy and adventure stories are your thing, then Around The World in 80 Days is not to be missed. Playing now at The Lowry, this is family theatre at it's mesmerising best!


Jules Verne’s classic story is of a rich and whimsical British gentleman, Phileas Fogg and his newly employed French valet, Passepartout. They set out to circumnavigate the globe in 80 days on a wager. Will they, won’t they, how will they forms the plot of this timeless tale.

14 Dec 2017

Save on Subscription Boxes for the Whole Family With Promo Codes

Still looking for that perfect Christmas present? Why not consider a subscription box – a gift that keeps giving even beyond Christmas.

From arts and crafts, beauty, fashion, pets, snacks, toys and lifestyle products, subscription box companies offer boxes for all ages, genders and choices. 
 Still looking for that perfect Christmas present? Why not consider a subscription box – a gift that keeps on giving beyond Christmas.

12 Dec 2017

Check Your Tyres, Whatever the Weather!

I don’t often get the chance to drive in freezing, sub-zero conditions. And then there are days like this week when compacted snow and ice on untreated roads make for treacherous driving. I was turning right at the end of our lane when I felt my car tyres struggling to grip on a large patch of ice. Fortunately, my tyres are in good nick and held fast as I manoeuvred the car across the road.

As I heaved a sigh of relief, it got me thinking about car safety and tyre health. 

The only way to make sure your car tyres are in good health is to check them over. Whether you are setting off on a road trip or commuting in inclement weather, here are a few simple checks to ensure your car tyres function at an optimum level.

11 Dec 2017

The Bear at Waterside - Family Theatre in Sale, Manchester

Christmas at Waterside is always special and this year is no exception. Raymond Briggs’s much-loved book, Bear, has been brought to life by Pins and Needles Productions. The Bear is now in residence at Waterside (previously Waterside Arts Centre), in Sale near Manchester, with shows running into the New Year.

 Christmas at the Waterside is always special and this year is no exception. Raymond Briggs’s much-loved Book, Bear, has been brought to life by Pins and Needles Productions, and is now in residence at Waterside, with shows running into the New Year.

8 Dec 2017

A Christmas Bouquet by Prestige Flowers

Fairy lights twinkle against closed curtains and orbs sparkle on festooned trees. Snuggled under the crochet blanket, I warm my hands against a cup of mulled wine. I am basking in the glow of nearly-Christmas, breathing in festive cheer, as the merry bunch of flowers in my window look on with a knowing smile.

This is what happens when I mix Christmas and a bouquet of beautiful flowers.
A heady mix to spark creativity!

On a more sombre note, thanks to Prestige Flowers for sending me this stunning Winter Warmer bouquet.

Prestige Flowers offer a range of beautiful traditional and contemporary festive flowers, perfect for Christmas and the New Year. Why not treat yourself or a loved one to a gorgeous bouquet this season?

7 Dec 2017

Crocheted Bears and Other Shady Bay Buddies Books

I enjoy crocheting but I am no expert. I took up a massive crochet project last year in the form of the Sky Blanket. I also crocheted hats and scarves for my son and me. But I have not pushed myself out of my crochet comfort zone yet.

There hasn’t been much time to crochet this year and the red and gold stole is an ongoing project. Something about winter makes me want to pick up that crochet hook and challenge myself. I have decided to crochet a little animal for my son. Having never crocheted anything like this before, I was on the hunt for suitably simple patterns when I was offered Emma Brown’s book to review.

Crocheted Bears and Other Animals published by CICO-books, is a collection of crochet patterns showcasing Emma Brown's Shady Bay Buddies. There are 25 beautiful crochet patterns from bears, puppies and bunnies, to owls, fish and bumble bees. The patterns are suitable for beginners through to experienced crafters, From Christmas, to birthdays and christenings, these cute crocheted animals will make lovely presents for children of all ages.


5 Dec 2017

10 Reasons to Fall in Love with the iPhone X (A Review)

Christmas has come early this year. My gorgeous OH queued for four hours on launch day to buy a new iPhone X. For me! He could have kept it for himself but kindly gifted it to me. Before Christmas. Even before my birthday. 

So now I have skipped a few generations and made a big upgrade from an iPhone 6 to an iPhone X. I have been using this new iPhone X over the last few days and am sold on it.

Here are 10 reasons why I have fallen in love with the iPhone X.

Having used the new iPhone X over the last few days, I have fallen in love with this technological marvel. It’s fast, intelligent and an absolute joy to use. There's more. Here are 10 reasons why I have fallen in love with the iPhone X. (review)

4 Dec 2017

Festive Red and Green Gin Cocktail Recipe

It was last year on New Year’s Eve when a few of us got together to celebrate. With no prior training or experience, all it took was a few G&Ts before we were signed up to do a 60 mile bicycle ride. On a more sensible note, there were plans to organise and run a book club. We were to meet every month and discuss a book we had all read. The idea was to get everyone reading again.

As things stand, all of us completed the cycle ride as planned. The book club is another story. It has slowly but surely morphed into a Gin Club. So we girls meet every month as per the original plan. But instead of discussing books, we end up drinking gin and talking bicycles instead. And we always play 80s music.

This Red and Green Gin Cocktail is the perfect drink for this festive season. Liven up your Christmas or New Year party with this quick and easy gin cocktail recipe.


Having heard of our Gin Club, the English Gin Company kindly sent me a bottle of their Cucumber Gin to sample. This aromatic gin infused with cucumber, with a juniper base and notes of pepper, coriander and citrus, is the perfect drink for summer.



So what are we doing drinking it in the run up to Christmas?

30 Nov 2017

Christmas Toy Gift Guide for Under £20

Christmas is nearly upon us. Children are writing letters to Santa, festive adverts are everywhere and you are still wondering about what toys to buy.

If you are stuck and looking for inspiration, here are a few ideas to help you along. I have rounded up a selection of toys and games, all for under £20, that will make great Christmas presents.

From cute and cuddly to high-tech and educational, here is a round up of toys and games that will make great Christmas presents. And all for under £20!

29 Nov 2017

Elf - The Musical at The Lowry is a Festive Delight!

You know when you go to watch a show not knowing what to expect and end up being pleasantly surprised? That was me watching Elf – The Musical at The Lowry.

If you already have tickets to watch Elf, be assured you are in for a treat. If you haven’t bought them yet, all I can say is this. If you are looking for a feel-good, festive, family-friendly outing to get you in the Christmas spirit, go watch Elf – The Musical at The Lowry. We may not know it, but we all need a big, warm hug sometimes.

I have never gotten round to watching Elf – The Movie starring Will Ferrell, so had no idea how the musical would unfold. All I knew after reading the synopsis was that Elf was the story of a child called Buddy who ends up crawling into Santa’s toy sack. He is raised as an Elf at the North Pole before eventually figuring out that he is human. He then goes to New York to look for his father.

My six year old son and I took our seats armed with only this information. Boy, were we in for a treat! We were hooked from the word go and I had a smile plastered across my face for the next 3 hours.

27 Nov 2017

Twelve Days of Christmas at Tatton Park

We love visiting Tatton Park in all seasons. Whether we are celebrating Roald Dahl’s birth centenary or practising for a big cycle ride, Tatton Park is our go-to place. Its beautiful landscaped gardens, imposing mansion, thriving farm and deer park are a great place to recharge your batteries. This beautiful National Trust property in Cheshire is only a short drive from Manchester and makes for the perfect family day out.

Christmas is always a magical time of year at Tatton Park. Its beautiful landscaped gardens, imposing mansion, thriving farm and deer park make it fabulous for a family day out. The decorations in the Mansion this year are inspired by The Twelve Days of Christmas and are a glamorous mix of traditional and contemporary.

Christmas is always a magical time of year at Tatton Park. We visited this weekend, and despite the not-so-great weather, my son and I had a lovely time together.

23 Nov 2017

Planning a Festive Getaway in Newcastle Gateshead

The twin cities of Newcastle and Gateshead, separated by the river Tyne, are where I spent a large part of my adult life. I don’t visit Newcastle and Gateshead as often as I would like since moving to the North West. Perhaps reminiscing about Christmas past spent in this happy corner of the North East will inspire me to plan a visit this festive season.

Newcastle and Gateshead have always had a lot to offer over the festive period - for shoppers, for families and for those looking to have a good time. Here are highlights of what to expect when visiting Newcastle Gateshead over Christmas and New Year.

Newcastle and Gateshead have always had a lot to offer over the Christmas period - for shoppers, for families and for those looking to have a good time. Here are highlights of what to expect when visiting Newcastle Gateshead over Christmas and New Year. 

20 Nov 2017

Digital Kids Show, Manchester

It was our first time at the Digital Kids Show, and I was not sure what to expect. Was J too young to attend? Will there be enough to keep his attention through the day? What will we parents do while the child is having fun?

Turns out, the Digital Kids Show surpassed all expectation. We spent the entire day trying out a variety of toys, games and gadgets and generally having a good time.

The Digital Kids Show, Manchester, is a fun and fantastic family day out. It is where you get a chance to play with all the latest gadgets, tech toys and games. If you are planning a visit, here are things to know before you go.

The Hallé in Concert at The Bridgewater Hall, Manchester

We may not have had formal training, but music has always been a big part of our lives. M and I are fond of classical music and there was a time before parenthood when we routinely attended live concerts at the Royal Albert Hall and the Sage. 

We had heard wonderful things about the Bridgewater Hall after moving to Manchester, but never had the opportunity to visit. Until now.

The Hallé has been Manchester’s orchestra for more than 150 years. We were privileged to watch the choir and orchestra perform at the Bridgewater Hall in Manchester. If you are planning a visit, here are things you need to know before you go.

15 Nov 2017

How to Design a Brand Logo with Logojoy

I have recently been giving the blog an overhaul. I have updated the header and social media buttons. I have changed the layout and colour scheme. Next on the list was a brand new blog logo. Logojoy, a blog designing website, invited me to try out and review their software.

Logojoy uses artificial intelligence to generate beautiful, unique logo ideas to suit your business. You can design a logo for free and keep refining it till you are completely happy with the result. You only make a payment once you are satisfied with your logo.

Logojoy uses artificial intelligence to generate beautiful, unique logo ideas to suit your business. You can design a logo for free and keep refining it till you are completely happy with the result. You only make a payment once you are satisfied with your logo.

13 Nov 2017

Meccano M.A.X - the Interactive Toy Robot, Review

I grew up in the 1980s watching The Terminator movies and reading Isaac Asimov’s principles of robotics. It was a time when artificial Intelligence (AI) was the stuff of sci-fi fantasies. I never thought that one day I would own an intelligent, learning robot that can tell a joke!

Meccano M.A.X. by Spinmaster is the new AI-powered smart robot designed to learn through interaction. The more you play with it, the smarter M.A.X gets! As a personalised STEM toy, M.A.X. has the capacity to stimulate young minds and foster a passion for science and critical thinking.


Meccano M.A.X. (Meccano Advanced XFactor) by Spinmaster is the new AI-powered smart robot designed to learn through interaction. The more you play with it, the smarter M.A.X gets.

12 Nov 2017

170 mile Cycle Ride - Training and Weight Loss (Week 6 Update)

I am at the end of week 6 of training for The Way Of The Roses and after missing all of week 5 to a nasty cold bug, I am glad to say this week has been a lot better. I managed an average speed of 21mph on a stationary bike at a level 9 tension. This session may have lasted only 25 minutes, but it is the fastest I have ever ridden on any kind of bicycle.

My on-going struggle with chronic sinusitis affects cycling performance. I have introduced kapalbhati pranayama into my morning routine in an attempt to overcome this. I am also practising mindfulness because the mind plays just as big a part in performance as physical training.

10 Nov 2017

The Great British Sewing Bee Sewing Studio Review

I don’t do sewing machines.  I can crochet beautiful patterns and I can sew with a needle and thread, but I don’t use sewing machines. The last time I used one was a couple of years ago when, under the watchful eyes of professionals, I managed to sew a Christmas gift bag.

What is life without a challenge, eh? So I accepted the task of using and reviewing the The Great British Sewing Bee Sewing Studio.

The Great British Sewing Bee Sewing Studio comes fully equipped with a pro sewing machine with features like a finger safety guard, auto speed settings,  and a thread spool compartment. It can be battery operated or you can plug it into the mains. The Sewing Studio is aimed at ages 6 and above, but only with adult supervision. Creating with the Sewing Studio can be a fun family project, something to spend time together and bond over.

6 Nov 2017

Mi-Mic Karaoke Microphone Speaker - Review

I love to sing and so does my six year old son. I have never had any formal training and J is only just beginning his, but we have always bonded over music. We love to listen and sing along to our favourite tracks at home as well as in the car. So when the opportunity arose to review a karaoke microphone, I knew it was something we would both enjoy.

The Mi-Mic is a karaoke microphone with an in-built speaker and Bluetooth functionality. The Bluetooth allows you to connect the Mi-Mic to any paired device, so you can channel the music through it as you sing. It comes with 7 coloured LED lights for added fun. Mi-Mic is perfect for children's parties, as a single charge gives 4 hours of play-time.

2 Nov 2017

LinkIt Card Game - Review & Giveaway

PikyKwiky is a UK based start-up company that has launched a family card game called ‘LinkIt’. This unique picture card game has been designed to help children sharpen visual perception and language skills in a fun and competitive atmosphere.

LinkIt is a picture-based card game for all the family. LinkIt has been designed to help children sharpen visual perception and language skills. The aim is to spot the link between cards as quickly as you can! It will make for a great stocking-filler this Christmas.

In LinkIt, players compete to find the link between the cards in front of them. The aim is to spot the link as quickly as possible  before the other players spot it. No prior knowledge or game strategy is required, which means adults have no advantage over children when it comes to winning at LinkIt.

Your Winter Maintenance Guide for Outdoor Furniture

Relaxing in your garden may be wonderful during the summer months. As winter comes around, the harsh weather can be hard on outdoor furniture.  With the right care and maintenance, you can make sure your furniture survives the cold season and is ready to enjoy come summer. Whether your furniture is metal, wood, plastic or rattan, this maintenance guide will help you look after your outdoor furniture.

As winter comes around, the harsh weather can be hard on outdoor furniture.  With the right care and maintenance, you can make sure your furniture survives the cold season and is ready to enjoy come summer. Whether your furniture is metal, wood, plastic or rattan, this maintenance guide will help you look after your outdoor furniture.

31 Oct 2017

Drainage Issues to Look Out for in Your New Home

Buying a new home can be exhilarating and terrifying in equal measures. The excitement of owning your own property can be overshadowed by a variety of problems. From subsidence to faulty plumbing, there is a lot that can go wrong with a property.

Leaky pipes are a nightmare for all home-owners, old and new. We have all heard horror stories where things have gone wrong with the plumbing. I remember an episode where I came down one morning to a puddle on the kitchen floor. Turns out the mains tap leading into the house had worn out with age and a quick fix was all it took to sort out the problem.

Not everyone gets by this easily when it comes to faulty plumbing. 

30 Oct 2017

170 mile Cycle Ride - Training and Weight Loss (Week 4 Update)

Week 4 of training for The Way Of The Roses was marked by October half-term, a couple of fantastic days out with J and M and the inevitable appearance of snotty noses. As temperatures dipped and the clocks turned back, J came down with a nasty bug.

170 mile Cycle Ride - Training and Weight Loss - Week 4 Update

We had a couple of cracking autumn days but a poorly child meant I was not able to go out on the bike. I did manage to sneak in two gym sessions through the week, including a spinning class.

27 Oct 2017

The 3x3 Rubik's Cube - a Toy that Stood the Test of Time

Can you believe it’s been more than 40 years since the Rubik’s cube was invented!

I grew up playing the Rubik’s cube. More correctly, fighting my brother over ownership of the one Cube we had. It didn’t take him long to crack the puzzle while I struggled to solve it. The next step was trying to better our times.  The competition was intense.

Some things stand the test of time. The Rubik’s Cube is one of them. In a day and age when attention spans are getting shorter, screen times are getting longer and fingers seek to fidget constantly, the Rubik’s Cube continues to endure. It enhances problem solving skills and logical thinking. It improves concentration and focus. It improves dexterity.


The old Cube has since undergone considerable transformation. It now has a brand new mechanism that makes it smoother, faster and more reliable. Gone are the days when it used to come apart in your hands as you attempted a speed record. The stickers have been replaced with plastic, which means no more fading or peeling. It also means bye-bye cheating!

25 Oct 2017

10 Things To Do at The National Railway Museum, York

My son J loves trains. He loves playing with trains, reading about trains and travelling by train. So we took him to the one place that is all about trains – The National Railway Museum (NRM) in York. We could have driven over in the car but decided to make the day extra special by going on the train.

The National Railway Museum (NRM) in York makes for a fantastic day our for all the family. It is located just outside York railway station and offers free entry. We spent an entire day exploring the NRM. Here are our top 10 things to do at The National Railway Museum, York.


The NRM is located just outside York railway station. It is very well sign-posted and a footbridge from the station leads directly to it. The NRM is open from 10-6 every day except a few days over Christmas and entry is free.

We spent the entire day exploring everything that the NRM has to offer. Here are our top 10 things to do at The National Railway Museum, York.

24 Oct 2017

Christmas Party Style for under £150

Are you all set to face the Festive Season?  

The countdown to Christmas has begun. It won’t be long before the merry-making is in full swing and your diary is bursting with things to do and parties to attend. If you are looking to update your wardrobe for the upcoming festivities, the brand Esprit has a range of clothes and accessories you can choose from.

I have put together my Christmas Party Style wish-list and it comes in just under £150. That is a bargain, don’t you think?

170 mile Cycle Ride - Week 3 Update

Week 3 of training for The Way Of The Roses went better than the previous week. Despite celebrating Diwali, the Festival of Lights, through the week, I stuck to the training schedule.

Week 3 of training for The Way Of The Roses went better than the previous week. Despite celebrating Diwali, the Festival of Lights, through the week, I stuck to the training schedule.

Hurricane Ophelia followed shortly afterward by Storm Brian meant there were no outdoor cycle rides this week. I am not comfortable cycling in gusts of 20mph, let alone 40! So it was just the gym for me this week.

18 Oct 2017

Picturesque Glencoe in Popular Cinema

It is one thing to see a beautiful location in a film or television show. It is quite another to visit the place and experience it in person.  PCA Predict are set to launch an e-book exploring how certain parts of the UK have been transformed by their on-screen popularity.

The unspoilt landscape of Glen Coe, its unpolluted air and stunning natural light make it the perfect location for an outdoor shoot. Here are some of cinema's iconic scenes set against the stunning backdrop of Glencoe and the Scottish Highlands.

16 Oct 2017

170 mile Cycle Ride - Week 2 Update

Week 2 of training for the Way Of The Roses hasn’t been great. The week started with two back-to-back gym sessions. I was supposed to go back for two more or do an outdoor cycle ride, but managed neither.

I am aiming for between 30 to 40 miles per week on the cycle through the winter months but did only half that this week. I refuse to make excuses for why I couldn’t do it. It’s in the past now and there is no way I can alter any of it. What I will do instead, is stay positive and focus on achieving my targets for this week.

A key part of this training story is to lose weight. I have a food plan that should help me do so at a steady rate. I am not skimping on fats at all. It is the processed carbs that are being culled. Here is what the plan looks like.

10 Oct 2017

Rubik's Junior Pet Puzzles - Review and Giveaway

I am a child of the 1980s and grew up wearing shoulder pads and trying to solve the Rubik’s cube. A lot has changed in the last 20 years, but Rubik’s carries on even today. In addition to the cube, Rubik’s now has a range of puzzles to suit all ages and abilities.

The Rubik’s Pet Puzzle is a fantastic toy that encourages logical thinking and problem-solving skills. Available in four cute patterns - a puppy, kitten, bunny and bear, they are suitable for children as young as four.

The latest in the range are the Rubik’s Junior Pet Puzzles. There is a cute puppy, kitten, bunny and bear to choose from.

9 Oct 2017

5 Things to Consider When Buying Your Home

Buying your own house is by far the biggest and most important investment most of us will make in our lives. It so often happens that you find your perfect house, fall in love with it and end up buying without thinking about any consequences.

There are so many things to consider and much that could go wrong. I speak from experience. It wasn’t long ago that we were hunting for our perfect family home. Here is what I have learnt after weeks and months of trying to get on the property ladder.

Buying your own house is by far the biggest and most important investment most of us will make in our lives. There are so many things to consider and much that could go wrong. Here is what I have learnt after weeks and months of trying to get on the property ladder.

Key Things to Consider When Buying A House:

5 Oct 2017

How I Intend to Train for a 170 mile Cycle Ride

Eeeks! I can’t believe I’ve done it! I have only just gone and said yes to do the Way Of The Roses (Coast-to-Coast or C2C) Cycle Ride next summer. That’s a 170 miles of cycling from Morecambe to Bridlington over the Yorkshire Dales in the north of England. What was I thinking?

Or maybe I wasn’t. I had always wanted to do the C2C as a week-long ramble. But none of my cycling buddies seem interested in walking for seven days. The only way to do it is on a bicycle, they said.

How I Intend to Train for a 170 mile Cycle Ride

3 Oct 2017

Fort William to Mallaig - World's Greatest Railway Journeys

If you are a fan of Harry Potter, steam trains, trains in general, or if you appreciate a fantastic day out with or without children, then this is for you.

Fort William to Mallaig - World's Greatest Railway Journeys

If you ever find yourself in the Scottish Highlands, do pencil in a day to enjoy a train ride from Fort William to Mallaig. It is widely regarded as one of the greatest and most scenic railway journeys in the world and here is why.



There are two options, two ways to experience this spectacular train ride.

27 Sep 2017

On the Mawddach Trail, Snowdonia, Wales

J had been asking to go on a cycling holiday since he saw his parents do a big charity bike ride earlier in the year. Being only six means his legs can tire easily. So the prospect of riding at least 10 miles every day for a week is daunting. That, and at 6 years old I think he is too little to be riding his lovely Islabike on the road. He is brilliant on it but I can’t guarantee he will stick to the inside line and follow instructions – key factors to guarantee his safety when riding on busy roads.

So instead of a cycling holiday, we decided to do cycle rides through the summer on car-free, family-friendly routes. The first big one we did was on our week-long holiday in Wales. You can read more about our Welsh itinerary here, if you haven’t done so already. We chose to cycle along the Mawddach trail that goes 9.5 miles from Dolgellau to Barmouth along a disused railway track on the southern edge of the stunning Mawddach estuary.

Cycle (or walk) on the Mawddach Trail, Snowdonia, Wales

25 Sep 2017

Fauna at The Lowry

J and I were back at The Quays theatre at The Lowry. This time, it was to watch Fauna. J was excited even before the show started because we were in Tier 1 seats. He was perched on top of a tall chair and had an unobstructed view of the stage and everyone seated in the stalls.

Fauna opened with bird song. Six skilled performers then took to the stage. One of them took up the guitar and keyboard that sat in a corner. He went on to provide the live score for the show, while the other five performed breath-taking stunts in time to the music.

Fauna at The Lowry

22 Sep 2017

Secret Lamb Biryani Recipe Revealed!

Biryani has long been considered the meal of the Nawabs – princes of ancient India. The recipe was a closely guarded secret, passed along from one generation of royal cooks to the next by word of mouth alone.

My husband, M, loves a good lamb biryani and tried in vain to find somewhere that serves an authentic  version. In the end, he decided to re-invent the recipe in our kitchen. We now have a tried and tested lamb biryani recipe that is a firm family favourite. M loves to make it. His friends and family love to eat it.

After some persuasion, M has decided to reveal the secret to his lamb biryani.

Secret Lamb Biryani Recipe Revealed!

13 Sep 2017

Bala to Llanuwchllyn Ramble (part of Snowdonia Leisure Network)

The aim of today’s ramble was to walk from Bala to Llanuwchllyn and get the Bala Lake Railway back. There is also a bus service that runs on this route, if you miss the last train back.

Bala to Llanuwchllyn Ramble (part of Snowdonia Leisure Network)

We started this walk from the Abercelyn Country House where we were staying for a week long self-catering holiday.

We crossed the road to access the walking/cycling path that runs along the A494 from Bala to Glanllyn. There is a plan in place to extend this path all the way up to Llanuwchllyn, which will perhaps make this walk a lot easier and less adventurous than it turned out to be.

4 Sep 2017

Family Travel Itinerary for Bala, North Wales

Another summer has come and gone and we are back at school today. After a whirlwind few weeks where I was struggling to keep my head above water with regards to the blog, I now have time to reflect on the holiday that has been.

We spent the first few weeks at home waiting for the incessant rain to stop. We did have a couple of reasonable days with a hint of summer, which were spent in the park and meeting up with friends.

It was only in the latter half of August, when M had time of work and the sun finally made a more determined appearance, that it truly felt like summer. By then, the evenings and early mornings were distinctly cooler and already reminiscent of autumn. We were not about to let a little chill thwart our plans.

Family Travel Itinerary for Bala, North Wales

So we packed our bags, crammed the bicycles into the boot of the car (that’s right, the Honda Civic is not unlike the Tardis – you can fit the whole house in it and more), and headed off to North Wales to enjoy a much awaited break.

31 Aug 2017

Dining Out in Liverpool ONE

Any trip to Liverpool would be incomplete without a stop at Liverpool ONE, an outdoor shopping, residential and leisure complex spanning six districts in the city. In addition to lots of shopping, from high street brands to designer labels, Liverpool ONE offers a diverse range of dining options.

Choose to have a classy fine dining experience, a laid back meal in a more casual setting or just grab food on the go. No matter what your preference, you will find something to suit your taste from the wide variety of food and drink outlets spread across Liverpool ONE.

29 Aug 2017

New! Ben 10 Toys

A new range of Ben 10 toys has been launched by Flair and you are invited to the party! It is a Twitter party on Thursday 31st August from 1pm to 3pm. I am playing host along with a few other parent bloggers. Remember to save the date and join in on your mobiles, laptops or smart devices using  #Ben10Toys to be in with a chance of winning some Ben 10 goodies.

28 Aug 2017

Why You MUST Restring Your Pearls

Whoever said diamonds are a girl’s best friend overlooked the other significant gem in every woman’s life - pearls!

Sophisticated, romantic and oh-so- elegant, pearls are a must-have in every woman’s jewellery collection. Pearls are also often passed from one generation to the next and carry with them a rich history and lots of sentimental value.

But time tends to take a toll on these beauties, They actually need treatments to keep them secure and looking their best. Whether your pearls are a family heirloom or just an all-time favourite, they should be restrung as often as once a year.

18 Aug 2017

Create with the Bunchems! BunchBot

Who else thinks this summer has been a complete washout? We are more than halfway through the school holidays and I can just about count the number of warm, sunny days we’ve had on the fingers of one hand.

J doesn’t mind being indoors that much, though cabin fever does kick in after a while. He amuses himself playing with toys or creating with them. Like with the Bunchems! BunchBot. We have had a laugh creating all sorts of 3-D shapes and creatures with this snazzy toy.

Create with the Bunchems! BunchBot

14 Aug 2017

The Eternity Rose - A Unique Gift Idea

A rose by any other name would smell as sweet. A concept immortalised by the greatest playwright and author that ever lived, William Shakespeare.

Thanks to those immortal words or otherwise, the rose now occupies a very special place in our hearts and our lives as a symbol of everlasting love.

Who can resist the charm of a hand-tied bouquet of long-stemmed red roses? There are times however, when a bouquet is not enough. You want to capture the romance of the rose but make it last for an eternity.

The Eternity Rose - a Unique Gift Idea

The Eternity Rose is just that. This unique concept in gift-giving comes from a company that specialises in precious metal-coated and glazed natural roses.

10 Aug 2017

MOKURU - the latest Fidget Toy - a Giveaway

“Is MOKURU Set To Be The Next Playground Craze?” scream the headlines from many national newspapers. This latest nifty toy has taken Japan by storm and is now headed for British shores.


Brainchild of designer Masakazu Node, this handheld wooden toy was designed to test an individual’s balance and focus. Now this simple design is testing the dexterity of fast fingered flippers everywhere.

5 Aug 2017

Crochet and the Colours of Christmas

Regular blog readers will know that I have taken up crochet again after a long hiatus. I have enjoyed the calm and focus that it brings, so have persisted with this long-lost hobby of mine.

After successfully completing the Sky Blanket, a year-long crochet project that had me picking up a crochet hook after nearly 20 years, I have gone on to finish a few other pieces. Like this ruffle crochet flower and this easy woolly hat I made to keep my ears warm last winter.

Crochet and the Colours of Christmas


Early this year, I visited a yarn and sewing exhibition with a friend who loves beautiful yarn as much as I do. She was on a self-imposed ‘yarn diet’, but I went a bit crazy and ended up buying armfuls of the stuff to replenish my depleted stock.

2 Aug 2017

Craft Time Mosaics Mini by Brainstorm

One week into the summer holidays and I am still waiting for the sun to shine and me to stop wearing a woolly jumper. No, I mean it. A nasty cold and no warming sunshine means I feel as miserable as if it was the middle of January.

With one difference. School is out, J is at home and I have to think of ways to keep him entertained. Creating has always been our strong point, so these cute Craft Time Mosaics Mini by Brainstorm fit the bill perfectly.

Craft Time Mosaics Mini by Brainstorm

Room on the Broom at The Lowry

I can’t remember the number of times we have read Julia Donaldson’s Room on the Broom. We bought the 15th anniversary edition a while back and it has remained a favourite since. So imagine the excitement when my son found out that we were at The Lowry to watch Room on the Broom live on stage.

30 Jul 2017

Outgrowing a Toddler Bed

It was three summers ago that J moved out of his baby cot into a toddler bed. We did up his room then, complete with lots of Thomas the Tank Engine decals, toy boxes and a big bookcase.

He is six years old now, tall for his age, and is very snug in his toddler bed. The time has come to move him into a proper sized ‘big boy’ bed.

A Parenting Dilemma - When the time comes to move out of a toddler bed, do you make the jump to a small single bed, or go straight up to a single bed? Would you consider a double bed for a child who seems to relish the prospect of a spacious bed?

27 Jul 2017

The Tiger Who Came to Tea at The Lowry

Does anyone else think it is feeling more like the Indian monsoon than a British summer? As if the incessant downpour wasn’t a dampener enough, there are these mystery viruses doing the rounds and making life miserable. I have no wish to be hunkered down in bed during the summer holidays, but going by the sore throat I woke up to this morning, that seems to be a distinct possibility.

Viruses and rain notwithstanding, J and I headed to the local library to register him for this year’s reading challenge. This is his fourth year doing it, and I am so proud of how far he has come with his reading (more on that later).

We next went to The Lowry for what was undoubtedly the highlight of our day. It was warm, but J had insisted on wearing his tiger onesie for one reason alone. We were going to watch The Tiger Who Came To Tea and he wanted to look and feel the part.

26 Jul 2017

Refract:17 and Anyday at The Waterside Arts

Should I be surprised that the first day of our summer holidays was nearly a complete washout? All plans for the morning were put on hold as rain took over our lives. So J and I spent the day baking a batch of banana and walnut muffins, improvising on the recipe as we went along since we only had one ripe banana.

Refract:17 and Anyday at The Waterside Arts


The skies brightened by mid-afternoon and after a quick meal of creamy vegetable pasta that M rustled up in under 15 minutes, we headed out to the Waterside Arts to watch a performance of Anyday.

Anyday is Max Calaf Seve’s one-man trampolining act that is part of Refract:17, a festival of experiential performances, music and events that are being showcased at the Waterside till the end of this month. It is about seeing things differently, being challenged and inspired.



“There is no gravity on that stage,” my six year old exclaimed in incredulous delight as we watched Max perform one stunt after another. Quickly followed by, “I wish I could do that,” in response to Max’s ingenious use of props and mid-air somersaults on the trampoline.

Grill in the Park at the Worsley Park Marriott Hotel & Country Club

M and I hardly ever go on dinner dates. We have managed the occasional child-free lunch date when J was at school and M had the day off. But evenings out without a child in tow are a rare occurrence since becoming parents. I am not complaining, for I really do enjoy being accompanied by my son when out and about. I also have nothing against date nights at home. To be entirely honest, it is a lot less effort to curl up on the living room sofa with wine and cake in my pyjamas than sorting a night out.

Grill in the Park at the Worsley Park Marriott Hotel & Country Club

But every once in a while, it just feels nice to put on something pretty and step out with my husband. So I did, and we headed to the Grill in the Park at the Worsley Park Marriott Hotel & Country Club to sample their new menu.

24 Jul 2017

Manchester City Bike Ride : The How and Why

Leading by example to motivate your child to bigger and better things is what parenthood is all about.

The Challenge


When his parents took on a cycling challenge in the new year and went on to complete it, six year old J was keen to follow suit. He wanted a cycling challenge of his own.

J has been on his Islabike for a year and a half now, growing ever more confident with his cycling. We have been out cycling as a family a couple of times, mostly on holiday, but had never done a competitive bike ride before.


Why We Chose The City Ride



Not that the HSBC UK Manchester City Ride is competitive. Far from it. It is touted as a family-friendly bike ride around the city, with roads closed to traffic along the route. It is open to people of all ages and abilities and you can choose to cycle on any type of bike. You can even hire a bike for the day if you don’t have one of your own.

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