10 Dec 2018

Stick Man at The Lowry, Manchester

Scamp Theatre are responsible for bringing Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler's delightful book,  'Stick Man' to life, and it is back at The Lowry in time for the festive season. We are huge fans of Julia Donaldson’s books and we love family theatre. So when The Lowry invited us to a showing, we decided it would be a lovely way to spend a rainy morning this December.


The story is about Stick Man and his adoring family of Stick Lady and three little Stick Children. 

After going for a jog one morning, Stick Man encounters a bounding dog, who just wants to play fetch with what he thinks is just an ordinary stick. This sparks a series of unfortunate adventures, which lead poor Stick Man far away from his home in the Family Tree. Time goes by, and just when Stick Man has abandoned all hope of ever seeing his family again, along comes Father Christmas to save the day. Stick Man is re-united with his family just in time to celebrate Christmas with them.


Stick Man is brought to life by a trio of extremely talented actors, who between them, portray a myriad of characters including the ones Stick Man encounters on his adventures. They sing, dance and treat us to some delightful live music. They manage the prop changes with effortless ease and discreetly change costumes to flit between characters.

What makes Stick Man even more enjoyable during the festive season is the not-so-subtle references to a traditional pantomime show. Like when the actors encourage the audience to scream, “Behind you!” in response to a question. There is plenty more audience engagement, like a game of beach ball when Stick Man accidentally ends up on the beach. And there a few jokes and gags scattered throughout aimed specifically at the grown-ups in the crowd. So really, there is something for everyone in Stick Man.


With a running time of 60 minutes, Stick Man is absolutely perfect for young children and their families to enjoy together. Shows at The Lowry continue all through December and into the New Year, and are proving to be extremely popular. So make sure you book your tickets and not miss out.


Disclosure: We were invited to attend a performance of Stick Man in exchange for this review. All opinions are my own. All photos copyright The Lowry.


6 Dec 2018

Raymond Briggs' Father Christmas At Waterside Arts

It’s becoming something of a Christmas tradition in our house to kick off the festive season with a visit to Waterside Arts in Sale, Manchester to watch their Christmas family show. Last year, it was Raymond Briggs’ The Bear, and this year it was Father Christmas. Pins and Needles are well known for their fabulous quality theatre for early years, families and young adults, and Father Christmas is no exception. From clever set designs and ingenious use of props, they have brought Raymond Briggs’ much loved book to life, staying true to the original from start to finish.

The story revolves around, you guessed it, Father Christmas. Raymond Briggs’ Father Christmas comes across as a grumpy old man going about his business and moaning about his job like any other person. Only difference is he has this really special job of delivering presents to children all over the world in a magic reindeer sleigh!


We follow him from the moment he wakes up on Christmas Eve, all the way through to the end of Christmas Day. We watch him as he complains about the miserable weather as he goes about preparing breakfast, feeding his reindeer, loading his sleigh with presents and packing some sandwiches and a flask of tea (and his radio), ready to fly off delivering presents. There are moments of pure hilarity, like when he is doing a number 2 (yes, that detailed!) What is it with children and poo is beyond me, but it had the young ones in the audience and some of the parents chuckling. And then when he tries to wriggle down a particularly challenging chimney.

Mike Aherne in the lead role of Father Christmas is simply delightful. He looks so at ease playing his part, you almost wonder if he is the real thing and you are actually getting a sneak peek into the normal, ordinary working life of Father Christmas. Richard Booth is the talented puppeteer who works all the animal puppets and goes about efficiently changing the set. We were sat right at the front and it was mesmerising to watch him mimic not only the sounds but the facial expressions and the body language of the animals he was controlling. He was purring like the cat and bouncing around like the excitable little dog.


Katy Sobey was outstanding as the musician of this entire piece. I could only marvel at her immense talent. She played a range of musical instruments like the ukele and the saxophone. She used all sorts of everyday objects to provide the sound effects to reflect what was happening on stage. So when Father Christmas poured a cup of tea from his kettle, she was pouring water from a jug in front of a microphone to create the sound. Her timing was spot on and she switched between musical instruments and this plethora of objects effortlessly. It’s not often you actually get to see the music makers in a theatre show, and my 7 year old mentioned this too. He thought Katy’s sound effects were simply brilliant.


The most memorable moment for him and me as well, was when Father Christmas came out in his reindeer sleigh. We were just a couple of feet away from the reindeer; I could have touched their noses with an outstretched hand. They were puppets, but created the illusion of being alive. It was just magical.

Father Christmas has a running length of 50 minutes with no interval, making it perfect for children aged 3+ and their families. It is showing at Waterside Arts all through December and will make a fantastic festive treat for all the family. You can make your experience extra special by ordering a milk and cookie pack for £2. All evening performances are slumber shows, so feel free to turn up in your pyjamas or onesies.


Disclosure: We were guests of Waterside for the purpose of this review. All opinions are my own. All images are courtesy of Waterside.

26 Nov 2018

Meccano Ferrari Grand Prix Racer Car

The Meccano Ferrari Grand Prix Racer Car is a great piece of kit, not just for Meccano fans but also for anyone who enjoys racing cars or Ferrari as a brand. It does have an endorsement of authenticity from Ferrari, after all.



The kit comes with 325 parts, 2 tools, 1 sticker sheet and 1 instruction sheet. It is recommended for experienced builders aged 10+ and has an estimated construction time of 1- 3 hours.

We love defying recommendations, possibly just as much as we love a challenge. The Meccano Ferrari is one that we warmed to immediately. J is nearly 8, and has a penchant for building and construction. He enjoys taking things apart and loves trying to piece them together. He also loves making his own models, using paper and other bits and bobs from his craft box.


Last year, he built the Meccano Max with help from Daddy M. This year, he decided he wanted to have a go building this Meccano Ferrari Grand Prix Racer Car all on his own. He is, after all, a year older and infinitely more self-assured! His logic was that this set would be easier than Max as there are no electrical circuits involved in the build.


Game on! My job was to open the box and lay everything out where he could find it. The sheet of stickers was a bit crumpled, but that didn’t bother us. My biggest gripe was that all the pieces were packed in four packets, but in entirely random combinations. It would be infinitely more helpful if the parts were put together based on where in the build they are needed, say steps 1 to 10 in one pack and so on. This will prevent the hassle of using a wrong part and then going back to change it later on. (This happened to us. J used a long 3-holed strip in step 9 instead of a short one. It was only towards the end of the build when he needed the long one that he realised something was amiss. The child flicked through the instruction manual, spotted the one he had used in step 9, and replaced it after a few quick manipulations.)


J set about bringing this Ferrari to life, one step at a time. He spent hours on this build. He worked on it in the mornings before school and then again for a little while in the evenings, one little piece at a time.

He needed my help with step 24, and he needed M to intervene towards the end when tightening some of the parts became really tricky due to sharp angles and tight spaces. Other than that, this was entirely J’s project. He looked at the diagrams, picked up the recommended parts and checked them to make sure they were the correct shape and size. He aligned strips of metal and held them together with a nut and bolt, his clever fingers deftly working the screwdriver and spanner to secure them in place.


Meticulously and painstakingly, my nearly 8 year old pieced together this Meccano Ferrari over 15 days. So yes, it is a moderately difficult build and yes, it does take much longer than 3 hours. And no, our end result does not look anywhere near as neat and tidy as the picture on the box. But it has been done by a determined nearly-8 year old. And of that, I am proud.



“I want to be an engineer and work for Meccano!” J proudly declared as he held aloft his model Ferrari. The kit has not only helped my son work on his dexterity and STEAM skills, it has taught him important lessons in patience and perseverance.



Disclosure: We were sent this set for the purpose of this review. All opinions are my own.



29 Aug 2018

EasyRead Time Teacher 24-Hour Wall Clock

Time is a concept alien to most children! At 7 years old, my son is no different. He does not understand the importance of being on time or what it means to be wasting time. For him, as with most children his age, time is endless. It has no beginning and no end.

It sadly falls to me as his parent to teach him that time is not limitless. There are 24 hours in a day, 60 minutes to the hour and 60 seconds in every minute. A visual reminder is always good to reinforce a new concept. Something like the EasyRead Time Teacher 24-Hour Wall Clock, with its striking bright red and blue colours, is likely to get J interested in telling the time and keeping track of it.

8 Aug 2018

What The Ladybird Heard Live at The Lowry

We’ve loved reading Julia Donaldson since J was a little baby. And we have enjoyed watching stage adaptations of her fabulous books.

What The Ladybird Heard Live is no exception. Based on the best-selling picture book by Julia Donaldson and Lydia Monks, we enjoyed watching the stage production by Kenny Wax Family Entertainment in association with Matthew Gregory.

25 Jul 2018

Refract at The Waterside Arts Centre

Refract is back at the Waterside Arts Centre for a second year after a sensational debut last year. How can I forget the mesmerising, gravity-defining antics of one man on a trampoline that was Anyday!


Refract is all about looking at things differently. We chose to watch Small Worlds - a compilation of 5 interwoven stories played out as miniature theatre under a canvas dome. We were an audience of not more than 20 children and adults, seated just a couple of feet away from the miniature stage,  in what was a very intimate setting.

The two puppeteers/animators moved props, adjusted stage lighting, created sound effects and made sure the animated film synced seamlessly with the wooden puppets in the foreground. A butterfly and a red balloon were the thread that linked the stories of a bug, a goose, a fox, a cat and a little girl.

13 Jun 2018

5 Tips to Help Your Kids Fall in Love with Maths

It’s not uncommon for children to dislike maths. However, as a parent, you can help change this. If your child finds the subject boring or difficult, there are things you can do to make learning fun and easy.  Here are some tips that will help you spark a love of maths in your child, making it a fun subject that they look forward to learning.

1. Commend Them for Effort
It’s important to always acknowledge your child for their effort, even if their calculations aren’t correct. Offering recognition will encourage your child to continue trying, whereas if you ignore their attempts to work out the correct answer, they’ll find it disheartening.

Teach your child that a wrong answer is better than no answer at all and you’ll motivate them to learn. By commending them for effort you’ll boost their confidence in maths and inspire them to keep trying.





2. Gamify Maths
Of course your child isn’t going to want to learn maths if they have no interest in it. Inject fun into learning and make a world of difference to how your child perceives the subject.

So, how can you gamify maths? Swap a textbook for an interactive maths game and your child won’t even realise they’re learning; they’ll be having too much fun!

Game-based learning provides an educational experience that’s also engaging and exciting, so your child will look forward to sitting down and practising maths – instead of completely dreading it.

3. Simplify it
If your child is struggling with a task, simplify it. Break it down for them as much as you can or, alternatively, set them an easier task. Spend time ensuring they understand the fundamentals, moving on to the next stage only after they are comfortable and confident with a given task.

By simplifying tasks for your child, you will not only help your child to understand maths but enjoy learning the subject too.



4. Make Maths Relatable to Their Hobbies
When using scenarios to teach your child maths, make sure you incorporate their hobbies to pique their interest. By including activities such as football or dance into mathematical situations, you’ll instantly engage them and, in turn, make maths more exciting and enjoyable.

You’ll also demonstrate the everyday value of maths, so your child will understand the importance of developing their mathematical skills and, as a result, be more inspired to learn.

5. Use Interactive Tools
It’s almost second nature for your child to use a smartphone or tablet, so it is a good idea to introduce interactive tools to enhance their learning experience.
Use tools that include interactive maths games for kids to help make maths fun for kids.

Disclosure: This post is in collaboration with Maths-Whizz, an online maths tuition service for 5-13 year olds, which promises to help children reach their full potential in maths. Start your free trial today or get in touch on +44 (0) 203 328 6564 to book a consultation.



12 Jun 2018

Stikbot Pirate Movie Set Review

StikBots are plastic figures with flexible body parts and suction cups for hands and feet that can be positioned in different ways. Download the free mobile app, Zing StikBot Studio, and you can create your own stop-motion StikBot movie.

We first came across  StikBots at the Digital Kids Show last year, when J had a go making an animation film. We have now been given the opportunity to review the new StikBot Pirate Movie Set.



The StikBot Pirate Movie Set came in a flat-pack box. We opened it to find 6 neatly folded foam boards. One of these opened up to form a double-sided backdrop – a beach scene on one side and a cliff picture on the other. The other 4 foam boards included numbered parts to build the pirate ship and accessories. Also included was an instruction sheet with step-by-step diagrams. It was easy enough to pop out the foam board parts and piece them together to create a pirate ship, two row boats with oars, a pair of cannons and some sharks and palm trees. The highlight was the treasure chest with a lid that flips open and can be filled with coins and jewels.

9 Jun 2018

Bunchems Unicorns Theme Pack Review

In case you haven’t heard of them before, Bunchems are sticky orbs of plastic with tiny hook-like projections that you can squish together into fun shapes. We have reviewed Bunchems Bunchbot in the past, and were happy to expand our Bunchems repertoire with the new Unicorn theme pack.


Bunchems Unicorns Theme Pack Review

This Unicorns pack comes with 5 variously coloured Bunchems, some of which glow in the dark. The pack includes 200 Bunchems, a selection of accessories (2 pairs of eyes, a pair of wings, a pink base, a wand, a crown and a horn) and an instruction sheet with ideas to create some fairies and unicorns.

31 May 2018

Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom Jigsaw Puzzle Review


Ravensburger have come out with a brand new dinosaur jigsaw to mark the release of the new Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom movie. It features a ferocious t-rex, triceratops and velociraptor and other fearsome dinosaurs as the puzzle picture.




Ravensburger are known for their quality products (we have reviewed the 100 piece Despicable Me 3 puzzle previously), and this jigsaw is no exception. The pieces are a great size, sturdy and made from what looks like fairly durable cardboard. The printed picture has a linen finish that minimises glare on the image and offers enhanced picture clarity. This jigsaw is made up of 100 pieces that link seamlessly, and measures 49 x 36 cms when complete.




I attempted making this jigsaw solo. Putting it together wasn’t as easy as I had anticipated. 

The border was easy enough to put together because the image is essentially a framed picture of dinosaurs. So it was a matter of piecing together the frame to finish off the border. The stud feature along the edge was an added help. The top two lines fell into place with ease, thanks to streaks of orange and red flames that guided me. It was the greens and browns in the middle that were tricky to decipher. I had to step away for a bit and come back to it. A break, a relaxed mindset and a refreshed outlook was all that was needed to piece together the remainder of this Jurassic jigsaw.




The completed picture is striking. The colours are vibrant and the attention to detail is amazing. Given my experience, I am not entirely convinced by the 6+ guidance on this puzzle. 6 year olds will need assistance from a grown-up to finish solving this jigsaw. Unless I am mistaken and am grossly underestimating the capabilities of six year olds! 

Anyway, if you like jigsaws and dinosaurs and are looking for a challenge, this Fallen Kingdom puzzle is just the thing. 



Disclosure: I was sent this puzzle for the purpose of this review. All opinions are my own.


Moving Forward with Rambling Through Parenthood

I have been away from the blog and all social media for nearly a month now and I have to say, it has done me a world of good.

The pressure of page views, followers and numbers had reached a point where it was oppressive, almost suffocating. The added burden of GDPR compliance fed into my growing resolve to do away with my blog completely. I deleted several drafts and binned my small collection of poems in what was an attempt to give it all up. But I could not bring myself to delete Rambling Through Parenthood.

Call it providence, call it good fortune, I am glad I didn’t do it. Nearly 5 years of sweat and toil would have disappeared in an instant, causing more heartache than the loss of a few verses.

Moving Forward with Rambling Through Parenthood


I have, however, come to an important decision about moving forward with Rambling Through Parenthood. The name stays, for as a mother to my son, that is what I do. There are old parenting battles and new parenthood dilemmas to tackle every day.

What is set to change is the time I spend on the blog and social media. Numbers are no longer a priority. For what is the point of a mega-successful parenting blog if I fail to be an accomplished parent! I can no longer justify time spent in front of a screen when there are other, more pressing matters demanding my attention. Like going out on a challenging bicycle ride or spending a delightful day with my son. I will be doing all the things that I love to do without the pressure of documenting every single detail on the blog.

I am, in my heart, a very private person. I cannot bring myself to share intimate moments of my life with the universe. Never have, never will. Which sort of defeats the purpose of a blog.

So why continue? Because I love to write.  Just write.

I have never been one to bow to convention and I am not about to start now. I will write. As I have always wanted to. Not confirming to social media algorithms, SEO tactics or analytics. But for the joy of it. What will the future bring? I shall wait and see.

29 May 2018

Little Wins This Week #14


Little Wins This Week is about remembering that little things add up to make a big difference. It is about counting small blessings, however insignificant they may seem. Little Wins is about being mindful, staying positive and making each day count.

Little Wins This Week #14

I was incredibly sore after a 34 mile bicycle ride last Sunday. But the sun was shining on Monday morning, and I couldn’t help but get out cycling again. Much to my surprise, my legs weren’t as sore as I expected. I was able to push myself and achieve an average speed of 12.1 mph. Again, may not sound like much, but it is my best average speed to date.

I cycled the same route again on Saturday, and guess what. I achieved a personal best average speed of 12.6!

25 May 2018

Action Required: Would you like to stay in touch?

Hello, Readers and Email Subscribers

GDPR! No matter where in the world you are, you would have heard something about it by now.

GDPR comes into force today, and it requires me to update the way I run Rambling Through Parenthood. I now have a brand new Privacy Policy in place. Do pop over and have a read.

There is one more thing I really need to do.

When you signed up to receive email updates from Rambling Through Parenthood, all you ever got in your inbox was just that. An email every time I published a new blog post. I have never spammed you or sent out unsolicited emails. And I solemnly promise, I never will.

In return, all I ask is a small favour.

Please dash an email to ramblingthroughparenthood@gmail.com with 'STAY SUBSCRIBED' in the subject or body of the message.

That way, I will know for a fact that you wish to carry on receiving brand new post updates from me. If I don't hear back from you, I will sadly have to take you off my mailing list.

If at some point in the future you decide you have had enough of my ramblings in your inbox, just click on 'unsubscribe now' at the bottom of any email from Rambling Through Parenthood. A couple of clicks, and you will never hear from me again unless you choose to re-subscribe (which you can do via the little box on the right side of this page).

No matter what you choose, it has been a pleasure having you along on this writing journey. So for that, thank you.

20 May 2018

Little Wins This Week #13


A month has gone by since my last Little Wins This Week and a lot has happened in that time. There have been some positives, a few negatives and lots of Little Wins. 

Little Wins This Week #13

16 May 2018

Our Latest Haul of Children's Books

I have always extolled the virtues of reading books to/with children. Start them young and they develop a life-long love for the written word. Needless to say, reading is an integral part of our daily routine and books feature heavily as presents for birthdays, Diwali and Christmas.

A couple of years ago, we bought the Roald Dahl box-set off The Book People as a Christmas present for my then 5 year old boy. J is now nearly 7 and has devoured almost the entire set. So it was time to replenish our reading stock with age-appropriate children’s books.

Our Latest Haul of Children's Books - Harry Potter included!

9 May 2018

The Jungle Book Live at The Lowry


The Jungle Book by Rudyard Kipling is the classic tale of a boy raised in the jungle by a pack of wolves and his struggles to gain his human identity. There have been several different adaptations of this story over the years, some better than others. 


The newest version is a contemporary take on this old favourite by the Children’s Touring Partnership and Royal & Derngate, Northampton. It is on tour at the moment and we were privileged to watch the show at The Lowry, Salford Quays.

The show is a celebration of diversity. It addresses the challenges young people face when growing up, especially when they feel that they do not ‘fit in’ with the norm. The core message of the production is that it is okay to be different. We are all different in our own way. That is what gives us our individuality and makes us unique.

15 Apr 2018

Little Wins This Week #12

Little Wins This Week is about remembering that little things add up to make a big difference. It is about counting small blessings, however insignificant they may seem. Little Wins is about being mindful, staying positive and making each day count.

Little Wins This Week is about remembering that little things add up to make a big difference. It is about counting small blessings, however insignificant they may seem. Little Wins is about being mindful, staying positive and making each day count.


Little Wins took a break last week because we were away enjoying a well-deserved break at Center Parcs. We went to the one in Sherwood Forest this time and no, I will not be blogging about ways to save money on your Center Parcs break.

13 Apr 2018

Win Tickets to The Jungle Book Live!

The Jungle Book Live is on tour and will be visiting The Lowry, Salford Quays, Manchester from 2nd to 6th May. Rudyard Kipling’s endearing tale about the human child brought up by a pack of wolves, reared as one of their own, and his journey of discovery, has been a firm family favourite through the ages.

Children’s Touring Partnership and Royal & Derngate, Northampton bring us a brand new adaptation, complete with a new score and script. The show is suitable for ages 6 years and above.

2 Apr 2018

Fun Science - Chromatography for Kids

It pains me to say that I learned science the tedious way – by sitting in a classroom and learning by rote. Science is best learned by doing – simple, everyday items can be put together to explain a concept. Science experiments can be messy but importantly, they make science interesting and a lot of fun.

Most kids enjoy mixing colours. Have you ever wondered about separating colours? Well now you can.

Here is a simple experiment kids can do to get a hands-on experience of chromatography - the science of separating colours.

Here is a simple experiment kids can do to get a hands-on experience of chromatography - the science of separating colours. It is all about making science fun! #STEM #funscience #scienceforkids #activitiesforkids #chromatography

1 Apr 2018

Little Wins This Week #11


Little Wins This Week is about remembering that little things add up to make a big difference. It is about counting small blessings, however insignificant they may seem. Little Wins is about being mindful, staying positive and making each day count.

Little Wins This Week is about remembering that little things add up to make a big difference. It is about counting small blessings, however insignificant they may seem. Little Wins is about being mindful, staying positive and making each day count.

31 Mar 2018

5 Habits Guaranteed to Save You Money

Saving money does not have to be about penny pinching. There are bargains to be had once you know where to look. That, and a few smart changes in the way you do everyday things can make a big difference to your budget in the long run.

Here are 5 habits that are guaranteed to save you money.

Saving money does not have to be about penny pinching. A few smart changes in the way you do everyday things can make a big difference to your budget in the long run. Here are 5 habits that are guaranteed to save you money.

30 Mar 2018

Ways to Make your Garden Child Friendly


As we finally say goodbye to the snow, our attention turns to summer and the most important area of the home in this glorious season, the garden. Making the area child friendly is really important especially when our little ones are very inquisitive and tend to pick up every little thing. Here are my top tips for creating a child friendly garden.

28 Mar 2018

How to Crochet Squeek the Mouse - Free Pattern included

Amigurumi is the art of crocheting cute, small animals. If this is your first time crocheting little animals, or your first time doing crochet, here is a fun and easy free pattern to crochet Squeek the Mouse.


Here is a fun and easy free pattern to crochet Squeek the Mouse. Squeek will make the perfect hand-crafted Christening or Birthday present, a lovingly hand-made Christmas stocking filler or Easter basket gift or just a lovely random present for any age.

27 Mar 2018

Bridget Jones and The Handmaid's Tale - A Comparative Book Review


Two books, two female protagonists in two vastly different settings. Yet, with more similarities than differences.

At first glance, both stories could not be more different. But then you notice similarities between Bridget and Offred.

I read a couple of books over the last few days which have really stayed with me. The first one was The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood. Some of you may remember this from a recent Channel 4 drama adaptation by the same name. The second book was Helen Fielding‘s last Bridget Jones offering. Mad AboutThe Boy saw Bridget in the role of a mother.

26 Mar 2018

Little Wins This Week #10


Little Wins This Week is about remembering that little things add up to make a big difference. It is about counting small blessings, however insignificant they may seem. Little Wins is about being mindful, staying positive and making each day count.

Little wins make a big difference

Please feel free to write about your Little Wins and tag me so I can come along and have a read.

22 Mar 2018

Travelling Abroad When Pregnant: How to Make it Special

Although travelling abroad on holiday when pregnant may seem like a bad idea, it can actually be really good and relaxing – so long as you do it properly. Be sure to keep these tips in mind in order to make your pregnant travels extra special.

Travelling abroad on holiday when pregnant  can be great and relaxing – so long as you do it properly. Keep these tips in mind in order to make your pregnant travels extra special.

21 Mar 2018

4 Steps to a Successful Blog in the Face of Changing Social Media Algorithms


So who else has had enough of changing algorithms across social media?

It started with Instagram getting rid of the chronological feed a while ago. Rumour has it they are all set to bring it back. YouTube ruffled a lot of feathers, mine included, when they announced their demonetisation ploy earlier this year. Facebook has left me befuddled on more than one occasion, and any attempt to decode its mystery has been thwarted by frequent algorithm changes. Twitter have now followed suit with restrictions on recurring tweets, links and photos.

I think I speak for a lot of bloggers when I say I have had enough of living by the vagaries of social networks. 

The social networks are within their rights to implement any changes they deem necessary. But as a blogger, I find it annoying, irrational and increasingly irreverent. It is one thing to adapt to changing algorithms, quite another to change your entire blogging etiquette in the pursuit of social media prowess and expanding readership.

If this resonates with you, read on. 

I am about to reveal a 4 step strategy to successful blogging that circumvents the problem of changing algorithms and increasing reliance on social channels. 

This is even more imperative, given the recent privacy scandal dogging Facebook.

I think I speak for a lot of bloggers when I say I have had enough of living by the vagaries of social networks. As a blogger, I find it annoying, irrational and increasingly irreverent. If this resonates with you, read on.     I am about to reveal a 4 step strategy to successful blogging that circumvents the problem of changing algorithms and increasing reliance on social channels.

20 Mar 2018

Little Wins This Week #9

Little Wins This Week took a break last week. There were lots of little moments that I could have written about but couldn’t be bothered to. This is something that I am going to have to work on diligently. Procrastination is getting me nowhere. I think of lots of things that I want to write about but when it actually comes down to putting those ideas into words, I seem to lose the plot.
Regular readers of the blog may have noticed (if indeed I have any regularly readers) that I have not posted anything lately. My son was poorly and I was feeling stressed. He is much better now, as am I. So here we go again.

Click the photo for the Chocolate Cake recipe
If there is one indulgent chocolate cake recipe you need, it is this. Try it and you will know what I am on about. It may not be Pinterest perfect, but boy, does it taste awesome.

9 Mar 2018

New! Dinosaurs by Schleich

Schleich have added a fantastic new range to their collection of animal figurines. We now have a brand new lot of Schleich dinosaurs as part of their ‘Conquering The Earth’ range.

Schleich have added a fantastic new range to their collection of handpainted, collectible animal figurines. We now have a brand new lot of Schleich dinosaurs as part of their ‘Conquering The Earth’ range.

8 Mar 2018

Fine Green Beans in a Dry Curry

I said I would share easy and delicious Indian curry recipes, and that’s precisely what I am here to do. This recipe uses fine green beans and transforms them into a dry curry while still retaining their bite, crunch and flavour. Serve this as a classic curry or spice up a more traditional meat dish with these curried beans on the side. No matter what you serve these with, one thing is certain. Once you have tried and tasted this beans curry, you will never want to eat green beans any other way!

This recipe uses fine green beans and transforms them into a dry curry while still retaining their bite, crunch and flavour. Serve this as a classic vegetarian curry or spice up a more traditional meat dish with these curried beans on the side. Indian cooking made easy!

7 Mar 2018

New! Cheatwell Squeeze Poppers Review and Giveaway

If you are new to the Cheatwell Squeeze Poppers, they are, in effect, foam ball firers. They are available in an assortment of shapes, colours and sizes. The basic principle however, remains unchanged. Each Squeeze Popper is a fun, attractive, hollow ball holder. Pop a foam ball into their hollows, give their middles a firm squeeze and watch as the ball is propelled several feet into the air. A bit of science underlies the Squeeze Popper craze. Increasing air pressure in a small enclosed space launches the foam ball projectiles.

If you are new to the Cheatwell Squeeze Poppers, they are, in effect, foam ball firers. They are available in an assortment of shapes, colours and sizes. The latest to the collection are the Poo Emoji(!), Unicorn and Monster.

6 Mar 2018

Extra Bright Name A Star - Review and Giveaway

The Star Name Registry is a commercial star naming registry where you can name a star for that special someone. They offer lots of different packages to suit different budgets and styles.

The Star Name Registry is a commercial star naming registry where you can name a star for that special someone. They offer lots of different packages to suit different budgets and styles.

5 Mar 2018

Little Wins This Week #8


Little Wins This Week is about remembering that little things add up to make a big difference. It is about counting small blessings, however insignificant they may seem. Little Wins is about being mindful, staying positive and making each day count.

The ‘Beast from the East’ brought a lot of snow and freezing temperatures. All that cold seems to have given me brain freeze and a whole week has gone by with me doing next to nothing. I have not blogged, exercised or cooked. And yet, this week saw a real breakthrough that means more than any of these and counts as a big win.


The ‘Beast from the East’ brought a lot of snow and freezing temperatures. All that cold seems to have given me brain freeze and a whole week has gone by with me doing next to nothing. I have not blogged, exercised or cooked. And yet, this week saw a real breakthrough that means more than any of these and counts as a big win.

26 Feb 2018

Little Wins This Week #7

Little Wins This Week is about remembering that little things add up to make a big difference. It is about counting small blessings, however insignificant they may seem. Little Wins is about being mindful, staying positive and making each day count.

I need to recount my little wins this week more than any other as it has been a week of few ups and many downs. So it is imperative that I focus on the few ups, the little wins I had this week.

Little Wins This Week is about remembering that little things add up to make a big difference. It is about counting small blessings, however insignificant they may seem. Little Wins is about being mindful, staying positive and making each day count.     I need to recount my little wins this week more than any other as it has been a week of few ups and many downs.

23 Feb 2018

Green Activities To Fit Into Your Every Day

We are nearly at breaking point when it comes to overt consumerism causing irreversible damage to our environment. Our planet can only take so much before it collapses under the weight of our materialistic needs.

All is not lost, yet. We can make a real difference and all it will take is for each one of us to make little changes to the way we live. Here are a few green ideas to fit into your everyday.

We can make a real difference to our environment if we only try. All it will take is for each one of us to make little changes in the way we live. Here are a few green ideas to fit into your everyday. Little changes that will add up to make a big difference.

21 Feb 2018

Methi Mutter Malai - Fenugreek Peas Curry in a Cream Sauce

Here is a recipe that is ubiquitous on the menus of most restaurants around the Indian subcontinent but nay impossible to find in your average ‘Indian’ takeaway here in the UK. It combines the fragrant bitterness of fenugreek (methi) leaves with the sweetness of green peas (mutter) and serves them up in a rich, creamy (malai) explosion of green and white.

Indian cooking made easy! Methi Mutter Malai - a vegetarain Indian curry recipe that combines the fragrant bitterness of fenugreek (methi) leaves with the sweetness of green peas (mutter) and serves them up in a rich, creamy (malai) explosion of green and white.

20 Feb 2018

New! Wild Animals by Schleich

What Lego is to brick building, Schleich is to play figurines. The name is synonymous with excellent quality and attention to detail. You can keep adding to your collection one figure at a time till you have an entire set to play with. And no matter how many you have, there is always room for another Schleich animal in the toy box.

What Lego is to brick building, Schleich is to play figurines. The name is synonymous with excellent quality and attention to detail. And no matter how many you have, there is always room for another Schleich animal in the toy box, for play-based learning.


19 Feb 2018

How We Fared at the Young Driver Firefly Session

“That’s beautiful!” enthused my then 3 year old son, looking at the machinery under our car’s bonnet. M was checking the oil level and J just happened to be there.

J is nearly seven and is just as fascinated by cars now as he was four years ago. He is morphing into a somewhat capable backseat driver, much to the chagrin of his parents.

Young Driver is a system of driving lessons for 10 to 17 year olds. They also offer Firefly - 20 minute driving sessions for 5 to 10 year olds. Check out how we got on driving at the Etihad Campus in Manchester.

You can imagine his delight when I told him about Young Driver – a system of driving lessons for 10 to 17 year olds. Now J is not old enough or tall enough to qualify for these, but Young Driver also offer car driving sessions for 5 to 10 year olds where children get to drive what are called ‘Firefly’ cars.

18 Feb 2018

Little Wins This Week #6

Laughter, chaos and a house full of happy children. I wish I could bottle the joy that pervaded the house and treasure it for posterity. The least I can do is document these delightful days in words and cherish their memory for eternity.

Laughter, chaos and a house full of happy children. I wish I could bottle the joy that pervaded the house and treasure it for posterity. The least I can do is document these delightful days in words and cherish their memory for eternity.

13 Feb 2018

Dove Stone Reservoir (Oldham, UK) - Winter Ramble

We live in a part of the country where snow invariably falls as rain. So imagine our surprise when we woke up to more than a light dusting of snow. A quick look at the weather forecast revealed a day of glorious sunshine. So we decided to wrap warm and head out on a winter ramble.

The idea was to go somewhere that promised lots of snow and spectacular vistas. M decided that the Dove Stone Reservoir in Saddleworth, on the northern fringes of the Peak District National Park, was a good location for our first family winter ramble.

Dove Stone Reservoir in Saddleworth, on the northern fringes of the Peak District National Park in North West England, was a good location for our first winter 'snowday' ramble.

11 Feb 2018

Win! Rubik's 2x2 Cube

Following on from the Rubik’s Pet Puzzles for little ones and the more traditional Rubik’s 3x3 cube, I now bring you the brilliant Rubik’s 2x2 cube. It has got fewer rows and columns, well, 1 less all around as compared to the 3x3. It has a sleek and smooth design. The new mechanics make it easy and fast to manoeuvre. Gone are the old sticky labels. Instead, you have sonic plastic coloured tiles, meaning there is no scope for cheating!

Little Wins This Week #5

I started blogging about my Little Wins This Week in the hope that it will help me shift focus from the misery and dissatisfaction to the things that really matter. I hoped it would help realign my thoughts when I am emotionally labile, stressed, upset and unable to focus on the happy.

And you know what. It is working.

As I sit here now trying to write about my Little Wins This Week, I am making an effort to pick out the positives from the tangled mess of negativity in my head. And it is working.

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