Top 5 shreds

Probably an inspiration for musicless videos, 'shreds' are even dafter but just as funny and StSanders does them the best.
I first saw these video's with my mates down the pub and they literally made us cry laughing ...so enjoy!
*Warning, may contain a few sweary words!*

1 Queen - Bohemian Rhapsody

2 Rolling Stones - Start Me Up

3 The Beach Boys - I Get Around*

4 Kiss - I Was Made for Loving You

5 Van Halen - Jump

*not StSanders

Check out other videos here... StSanders.com

My top 5 musicless videos

These music(less) videos are utterly daft but also hilariously brilliant. 
Many YouTubers have tried to replicate original culprit Mario Wienerroither, but failed.

A sound engineer from Austria, Mario isolates the vocal track and painstakingly adds footsteps, 
coughs and other apt sound effects with very amusing results. 

His first video edit about a year ago was 'I Want to Break Free' when he inadvertently saw Queen's video on mute and watching the band performing daily chores such as vacuuming and washing up inspired him to add layers of sound effects instead of the music.

Meaning to be a one-off Mario had such a great response he thankfully started making more and more videos which I have compiled my favourite 5....

1 David Bowie & Mick Jagger - Dancing In The Street

2 Elvis Presley - Blue Suede Shoes

3 Queen - I Want to Break Free

4 Bing Crosby & David Bowie - The Little Drummer Boy

5 Gene Kelly - Singin' in the Rain (without singing)

Check out Mario Wienerroither's YouTube channel here.

What are your childhood Christmas toys worth now?

I love to remember the games I played as a child, and I especially like to see how much they are worth now. My wife has bought a couple of her childhood games like Spirograph, Etch-a-Sketch, and a Simon off ebay in the last few years. I think we are all nostalgic is some way or another.

I have still never got over the fact that my mum gave away all my original Star Wars toys that I had saved in the loft without me knowing. They are worth so much money now, but I've let it go... no, honestly... well maybe not!

The fab people over at 2 Little Fleas have put together this great little graphic on a few of those family favourite toys and what they are worth now.

It can be fun to see what they are worth now, if you still have that toy that is!

I'd love to know what you think. Comment below if you had a toy that is now worth lots of money but you don't have it anymore!

Back to school: Scooting is the fun way of keeping kids fit as they start the new school year

As back to school is almost here, dad of two Mark Jennings and his children, Amber, ten and Jacob, three, take some scooters out for a test ride.

Amber and Jacob testing out the scooters

Amber and Jacob testing out the scooters

With September fast approaching, that only means one thing for kids... Back to School. If you have a tween then you'll know they grow up so much quicker these days and want independence far sooner than when we were kids.

This includes the gradual process of your beloved child backing off from giving you kisses and hugs when you drop them off on the school run, to them not wanting you do be within a 10 meter radius in fear of embarrassing them in front of their friends and then not wanting you to walk them to school at all.

At first our daughter Amber, ten, wanted to ride her bike to school, but with not much experience at cycling, we weren't convinced she would be steady enough on a big bike and this would detract her concentration from the traffic. So (still slightly reluctant) we compromised. She could come home from school on her scooter. No soon as confidence on both parts was restored, Amber was moaning that her scooter wasn't up to scratch (it was on old scooter of mine that my wife bought me when they became fashionable in the early noughties) and the back wheel had started to fall off, so what great opportunity to try a few models out.

Zinc Chozen 'Team Series' Scooter - £149.99

The first of 3 differently priced stunt scooters Amber tried out was the 'Zinc Chozen' available in 4 colours, it simply looks awesome with it's colour coded parts and cool graphics. The 10mm high bounce wheels make for a smooth ride and you can pick up a fair bit of speed thankfully kept under control with the fender brake. Spec includes 50cm chro-moly 'sea gul' steel handle bars that turn 360 degrees held in place by an chunky aluminium quad clamp. The dual down-tube makes for a solid scooter built for skate parks, so you can be totally confident in it's durability being able to take up to 100kg in weight! For further information please visit: www.zincsports.com

Mongoose Stance Stunt Scooter - £59.99

Another stylish and colourful medium budget stunt scooter is the Mongoose 'Stance'. The Mongoose brand has been with BMX since the 1970's and pride themselves on being an 'aggressive brand with products that push the limits of what a rider can do'. The steel 360 degrees handlebars are a Y-Bar in design and slightly narrower than the Zinc Chozen at 47cm held in place by a triple clamp collar. With extra grip on the flat down bar as well as the alloy deck gives you some extra standing area and steel brakes make for steady but controlled breaking. For further information please visit: www.halfords.com

Evo Stunt Scooter - £29.99

For a budget option and ideal for beginners, the Evo stunt scooter won't do anything to harm your child's street cred with it's striking black and orange colour scheme. Lightweight yet strong it picks up on all the needs of more expensive scooters. Quick and easy to assemble this is great value for money if you're on a tight budget. For further information please visit: www.houseoffraser.co.uk

Micro Floral White Scooter - £159.95

Now, for something a little more lady-like, the Micro White Floral Grey Scooter not only brings elegance but practicality as it can fold up for easy storage and carrying. Larger 20mm wheels produces a more comfortable ride and having a bigger frame makes it more agreeable for taller riders. Other attentions to detail include a front mud guard to protect you from the British weather and a stand gives you that more grown-up impression instead of just leaning it against a wall. This scooter is not just ideal for pre-teens but adults too, with petrol prices sky high (and if you're brave enough) why not use it for the short daily commute? And men haven't got the excuse it's 'too girly' as it come in a black and white option too! For further information please visit: www.micro-scooters.co.uk

The Amazing Spiderman Folding Scooter - £29.99

One for the little ones now. Our son Jacob, three, didn't need to be asked twice to try out the Amazing Spiderman folding Scooter by D'Arpèje. Suitable from the age of 4 this bright and colorful scooter not only has the famous web-shooting superhero livery, but cool light up 12mm wheels too! Very easy to set up and fully adjustable you'll be sure to get the right height handle bars for your young child and being foldable you can easily keep it in your car to keep him or her entertained when you're out and about. This sturdy scooter is ideal for younger kids and great value for money. For further information please visit: www.ebuyer.com

...and let's not forget safety helmets

We now accept that children should wear helmets when they ride their bikes, but I still see many kids not wearing a helmet when scootering. Some of these stunt scooters can go pretty fast, so it's important to get the message through to the kids that safety comes first!

Both Kiddimoto and Micro Scooters offer an amazing range of cool helmets that conform to en1078 safety standards which will convince even the most stubborn child that it's cool to wear a helmet.

For example, the 'Official Evil Knievel' helmet (£34.99) from Kiddimoto is quite frankly retro-tastic and you'll be the envy of your peers at either home time or at the skate park, I would have loved one of these in the not so safety conscious 70's! And the pretty 'Mirrored Purple' helmet (£24.95) from Micro-Scooters is simplistic but very striking in the way it catches the natural light.

www.kiddimoto.co.uk
www.micro-scooters.co.uk

Let's rock: Summer music festival camping essentials

With the annual summer music festivals underway this month, there's a feast of major hard rock and pop events coming up: 'Glastonbury Festival' (25th June), 'Sonisphere' & 'Wireless Festivals' (4th July), 'V Festivals' (16th August) and 'Reading & Leeds Festivals' (22nd August) so here are some really great and useful pieces of kit that will make outdoor survival a little more comfortable and enjoyable having not to worry about anything apart from which band to see next ...and don't to forget to check out these websites for 1'000's more super festival and camping ideas!

festivalessentials.png

Vango Ark 300

3 Person Tent - £100

The main qualities you need for a festival tent is something light to carry and easy to put up. You need to find that premium space quickly otherwise you'll end up pitching by a walkway or even worse by the toilets! As the Vango Ark 300 has only 2 poles it can be put up in less than 5 minutes but has all the usual high spec that you'd expect from Vango tents, plus helpful extras such as colour coded poles and reflective webbing picks if you're erecting your tent in poor light. The Gothic arch styling not only looks cool but gives this 3 man tent a little extra height and the large 2 metre wide window at the front gives you ease of access and plenty of social interaction when chilling out with friends.For full specifications of this compact, but spacious tent, please visit: www.vango.co.uk 

Craghoppers Mantua

Packaway Jacket - £50

The 'Mantua' packaway jacket from Craghoppers is a perfect example of what type of waterproof coat is necessary for our very changeable British festival weather. Stored neatly in a stuff sack until required, this breathable jacket can be simply thrown on with cuffs, hems and peaked hood fully adjustable tight to your body to keep out the wind and rain. The Velcro fastening storm flap makes for a tight seal on the main zip and with additional zips on the pockets makes it more secure for valuables not to be pinched by busy hands!

These handy packaway jackets are available in black or pink, for more information, please visit: www.craghoppers.com 

Feetz

Pocket Wellies - £9.99

If you want to risk not taking wellies as you've got far too much to carry then theseingenious 'Feetz' pocket overshoe wellies are just perfect for you. Launched at the end of last year with the idea that sometimes when you're out and about for a long time and caught out by the weather, you can just reach into your bag and slip these lightweight (350g), water and mud-proof wellies over your shoes. These aren't just carrier bags you shove over your feet, but well designed reusable footwear with hard non-slip soles and drawstring tops to give you maximum protection from the wet stuff.

These handy (feety) pocket wellies are available 4 colours and various sizes, for more information, please visit: www.feetz.co.uk 

iWalk Extreme 10'000 Duo

Back-Up Battery - £59.99

The 'iWalk Extreme' rechargeable back-up battery was designed for the iPod, iPhone and iPad but is compatible with all USB smartphones and devices. With two charging points and big on power you may want to keep this charger a secret from your friends otherwise they'll be wanting to share! The '10'000 Duo' (10'000mAh) has handy charging lights to show you how much percentage of power you have left and an LED flashlight to help you out in the dark. Finding the right cables isn't a problem either as this sleek looking battery comes complete with Apple and mini USB charging cables.

Fore more information and other great products please visit: www.iwalkuk.com 

OnePiece

Camouflage Onesie - £129

OnePiece onesie's are simply awesome and you may excused thinking they're not particularly cheap, but you're paying for high end fashion and superior quality! I tried out the 'Camouflage' Onesie and it just made me smile, thinking this is categorically perfect for lounging and chilling out in and I even look pretty cool too! OnePiece Onesie's are unisex and made from premium supersoft cotton with attention to nice details such as embroidered branding which is also included on the strong canvas zip pulls on the pockets. The front 2-way zipper is a must especially if you're a man and having a few festival drinkies (you don't need to be a genius to work it out) and it even zips the hood shut tight - great for getting some early shut eye on bright lazy summer mornings. These onesie's of course aren't just stylish and practical but very warm and comfortable too, take a look and treat yourself from the great range available at: www.onepiece.co.uk

Pacsafe Walletsafe

Travel Wallet - £34.99

Outfox the pickpocket with the cunning 'Pacsafe Walletsafe'. This brilliant tri-fold travel wallet can be attatched to an item of your clothing such as a belt loop via a sturdy metal chain connected to a twist lock dog-clip. There's plenty of compartments for your credit cards, paper money and concert tickets, plus a window for your photo ID so you can get served at the beer tent! There's even a zipped compartment on the outside for all your loose change, so for that extra piece of mind this seems to be a no brainer at a busy outdoor festival.

The Pacsafe Walletsafe is available with 100's of other great outdoor products from: www.safariquip.co.uk

Kelty LumaPivot

360-degree Directional Lantern - £55

I you need light and lots of it, this 'LumaPivot' 360-degree directional lantern by Kelty will give you 60 lumens for 12hrs or 110 lumens for 6hrs and it's not just the power from the rotating LED panels that makes this lamp special but the adjustability of the light output. Lightweight enough to pack easily this lantern can be placed stable on a surface or be hung by the handle with each panel pivoting 180° and rotating 360° for customised illumination. Not only is this lamp useful for your personal needs, but if you have a gazeebo, great for social gatherings.

The LumaPivot requires 6AA cell batteries, for more information please visit: www.smgeurope.com 

Veho 360 Degrees

M4 Bluetooth Speaker - £35.99

I must say I'm impressed by this amazing little bluetooth speaker from 'Veho', when I first saw it I thought it couldn't possibly sound any good due to it's size but how wrong was I? This ultra small 360 rechargeable 2 x 2.2 watt speaker is absolutely ideal for travel or camping and plays music either by line-in, micro SD card or blutooth up to a 20 metre range! Smart looking and well designed, the simple volume and track controls make it easy enough for any technophobe to use. Sound quality isn't just loud, but crisp on all levels of music, I should know as first tested it on Pink Floyd then Iron Maiden!

Fore more information and other great products from Viking please visit: www.viking-direct.co.uk

Coleman Pathfinder

Lightweight Sleeping Bag - £59.99

Another slightly bulky item to carry are sleeping bags, but the 'Coleman Pathfinder' has been developed with this in mind when it comes to storage and travel. Firstly this lightweight mummy style sleeping bag comes in a clever dry bag with compression valve, so you can push all the air out when repacking and keeps it dry in the wettest conditions. The sleeping bag itself has ample room but feels cosy - the large size fits me well and I'm 6ft and a tad overweight! Made from 3 different layers of Coletherm® hypoallergenic micro insulation it offers great protection from the elements and with the pull strings around inner body and hood, you will really fill snug as a bug!

For more information on this and other Coleman camping products please visit: www.coleman.eu 

Olpro

Beach Hut - £99

Now you've got your main sleeping tent but what about this 'Beach Hut' from Olpro for a good festival idea? If you're going to a festival with a group of friends and you've only got small tents then why not club together and invest in this funky 'pop-up' hut to get changed or washed in for that extra privacy (especially the ladies). This lightweight hut transforms from an 80cm disc in it's carry bag into a 2m² cube and can be erected in seconds! Fully waterproof with an attached ground sheet, this attractive panel effect beach hut comes with a roll up front door and rear window, plus being UV 35+ will protect you from the sun when you're hanging out back at the tents with your mates.

The Olpro Beach Hut comes in red, blue or yellow. For more information and pictures please visit: www.olproshop.com

VARTA Indestructible Torch and Portable Power range

£9.99-£29.99

For a powerful, reliable torch that's not too bulky the 'Indestructible Torch' from VARTA is just the light source to carry in your back pack for when you return to where you thought your tent might be! Being water and shock resistant this robust torch won't let you down when you most need it; rummaging around between guy ropes when you've had a few festival drinks. Two power modes, 140 lumins and 40 lumins for power saving means you you've got the power when you need it and when it's time to chill out in the tent you're battery won't be zapped.

VARTA also offer a wide range of powerpacks ideal for instant charging for your mobiles and tablets. These are great because their so small, you can pack them and forget about them until needed in an emergency. The Mini Powerpack for example which is compatible with all micro USB and Apple (30-pin) can give you 1hr of extra talktime whilst the 'AlkalinePowerpack' is slightly more heavy duty and can give you 7hrs extra talktime with 100% phone charge.

For more information on these and other VARTA power products please visit: www.varta-consumer.co.uk

Follow mark on twitter: twitter.com/OurFamilyLifeUK

Father's Day: A trip down memory lane.. my dad's love of rubbish cars

As Fathers Day is fast approaching, it got me thinking of all my dear dad's sub-standard family automobiles we had to endure as kids, if you're a child of the seventies and eighties this may relate to you, so please read on...

rubbishcars1.png

Foreword by Mark Jennings

Along with my younger brother and older sister we had a good education and a nice house, but the family budget would never allow for an expensive brand new shiny car. To be honest, even if my dad could afford one he'd still probably elect to get a bargain basement banger to run us all around in. His attraction with pretty British sports cars such as the Jaguar XK series or Austin Healey, definitely didn't rub off when choosing the latest family car. I'm probably being a little harsh, but when you're a pubescent young man pushing your dad's clapped out jalopy around a major roundabout just as the local secondary school kicks out for the day, was just one of many experiences any teenager would want the earth to swallow them whole!

The family holiday was always an experience. Don't get me wrong, I absolutely loved the actual holiday, but getting there was always stressful especially for the poor man driving with three argumentative kids in the back and nagging wife in the front, not knowing whether the car would actually make it there, let alone back.

Living on the south coast it was always a cheaper alternative to drive to southern France rather than flying. So we'd jam pack the car full of mainly my mothers clothes, neatly stuffing toilet rolls in places that would easily fall out on the road as soon as the boot was opened in an emergency, then head off to the nearest port just about making it off the drive without pulling the rear axle off with all the weight!

Anyway, that's enough from me. I'll now leave you with the humorous but audacious history of my dad's rubbish car collection in his own words (some names and local places have been censored to protect the innocent, or guilty). Happy Father's Day dad!

By Byron Jennings (aka Dad)

"I will try to remember all the cars I’ve owned and cherished, but some details, inevitably, are veiled in the mists of antiquity, and the chronology may not be exactly correct, but here goes...

The first was in about 1973, a 1959 Austin Cambridge, which cost £50. It was listed as the A55 Mk ll, with a 1489cc engine and large tail fins. They were good old cars – comfortable, easy to maintain and with a cavernous boot. It wouldn’t do much more than 65mph, but there were many fewer motorways in those days anyway.

Doing all my own servicing (which was easy on cars like that – all the engine parts were instantly recognisable, all your tools fitted, and so on) and buying spares – even including an entire exhaust system - from the scrappy, I managed to keep it running for a few years. Eventually, the underbody rot became uneconomical to repair and I sold it to a British Rail porter at the Docks for banger racing. (He did the banger racing at a rally cross track, not at the Docks).

I think my next foray into automotive whimsy was the royal blue 2-door Mk l Ford Cortina. This cost the princely sum of £25 and was acquired from a copper I knew who lived in a nearby town – his son had been using it, but had moved on to something more modern. I can’t remember how long this lasted, but not all that long.

I remember, one morning on my way to work, I was driving through the town Square when I was stopped by a rather pretty young WPC who informed me that the offside front wing was hanging off, and that it was dangerous. I was able to reply – in complete honesty – ‘It was ok when I left home a few minutes ago, officer. I’ll fix it in a minute.’ When I got to work, I borrowed a drill from the marine workshop and duly secured the wing with a few self-tapping screws. Shortly afterwards, the engine started to burn oil at a horrendous rate, and, rather than go to the expense of buying the expensive, new stuff from Halfords, I got the workshop manager at the local Renault garage to allow me to help myself to the contents of the ‘used oil’ barrel in the corner of the workshop, which I was getting through at the rate of about a gallon a week.

One morning when you were at school, I told your brother that I would take him for a ride (this must have been about 1980, when he would have been 4). We got about 2 miles when the engine blew up, and we had to walk home. I think I arranged a tow and sold it for a fiver. When I spoke later to one of the mechanics at Renault, and asked him exactly what went into the ‘used oil’ barrel, he replied, ‘Oh, everything goes in there, mate. Engine oil, brake fluid, diesel, the lot.’ Not exactly Castrol GTX, then.

rubbishcars2.png

You’ve forgotten the bronze FD Vauxhall Victor SL200! I bought this for £495 as a part-exchange clearance bargain from a dealer (long since gone). This was by far the fastest car I’d owned up until then – it would do a ton (just) and had quite decent acceleration. My colleagues (especially the younger, female ones) quite enjoyed being given a lift in this, as they said it reminded them of Starsky and Hutch. Unfortunately, one very icy evening whilst on detached duty at Birmingham Airport, I managed to wrap it around a lamp-post on the A45 at Sheldon. This must have been very early 80’s, as Birmingham Airport was then still operating out of the former site at Elmdon, near Solihull, not near the NEC, as we now know it.

I think next came the pale blue Ford Zephyr Mark lV 2,495 cc V6. This was bought from one of your Uncle's colleagues in the navy at Portsmouth for £150. Sitting inside was like sitting at home on a luxurious armchair, but, despite its engine size, the performance was absolutely hopeless. It was also unfeasibly long, and you virtually had to find two parking spaces together if you wanted to park it anywhere. The bonnet was about as long as a snooker table. Also, it was the first car I had known with an automatic choke: I was blissfully unaware of the fuel being used when the engine was cold until, one sub-zero morning on my way to work for an early shift, I ran out of petrol whilst reversing out of the drive. I had a gallon of fuel in a can in the boot, and put this in the tank, thinking that it would be enough to last me a couple of days. I ran out of petrol again 3 miles away! That meant, when the engine was cold and the automatic choke was fully operational, I was getting about 4mpg (about the same as a F1 car, but without the g-force). The realisation of this, allied to (once again) the dreaded underbody rot, as well as a slipping clutch, made me decide that it was time to move on.

All the while, I had a friend called Andy McBride, a heavily-bearded Dundonian (who, sadly, died in his forties), who lived in the same town. Although he had no driving licence, he had bought a Simca 1100 Special for £450 from a work colleague. This had a tuned 1300 engine and was very sporty. Andy’s idea was, that I should keep the car at home, service it and use it while I was looking for a replacement for the Zephyr; I was supposed to give him driving lessons whenever we were both free. Unfortunately, Andy was a (functioning) alcoholic, and he was always far too drunk to get behind a wheel – I never did get to give him a lesson. After a few months, I had been using the car for so long, I felt guilty, and offered to buy it from him for the price that he had paid. He accepted, and insisted on cash – not because he was afraid that a cheque might bounce, but because a cheque payment into his bank account would simply get absorbed by his overdraft, and needed cash to pay his bills. I saw him at the end of that week, and asked him if he had managed to pay all his bills. He had been so unused to having so much dosh on him, he had p***** the lot up against the wall, poor sod.

I ran the Simca for quite a while, and it was fairly decent. The water pump gave up on one occasion, and I managed to find another on an upside-down vehicle in a farmyard a mile away. I never did find out who it belonged to. Also, the gearbox gave up once on the way back from Tenterden – I had to drive in 3rd all the way home, slipping the clutch, and it took an entire weekend to fit a replacement. I found one at a scrap yard (long-since closed) up a lane near the ambulance station for £10: I had to remove the nearside front wing and drop the front suspension to access it! Do you remember Raj? He, too, had a Simca 1100, which he left outside Chris's (another work colleague) garage while he was working on a 3-month posting at the British High Commission in Delhi. It was rotting away by the hour – Chris had to go out with a dustpan and brush every day to sweep up the rust that had fallen from it during the night – but it had quite new tyres on it. I borrowed these to put on my car so that it would pass its MOT, and never did get round to putting them back again. Raj never seemed to wonder how his tyres had become so bald whilst the car was sitting in a driveway for three months. I took this car on another spell of detached duty at Birmingham Airport (spring 1984 – the new terminal opened while I was there), but it was, by now, getting well past its sell-by date. Those Simcas were made of notoriously rubbish metal, and the mechanicals were starting to play up as well.

Rubbishcars3.png

On the motorway to Brum, I started to lose power – only slightly, at first, but gradually more and more until I was forced to pull in on the hard shoulder. I looked under the bonnet to be greeted by a strong smell of petrol and the sight of a fuel pipe with a large hole half-way along its length. Luckily, the windscreen washer used piping of the same calibre, which I was able to adapt and fit (after all, you can still drive with a dirty windscreen).

Whilst in Birmingham, the alternator packed up, and I had to put the battery on charge every night (I had had the foresight to take a battery charger with me). And, on one of my frequent visits to Ludlow on my days off, the c/v joints on the steering decided to give up the ghost. That was when I bought the Escort estate – for £150, from a garage in Sandpits Road. It had been used as a delivery hack, and was indescribably filthy, but it cleaned up ok. It had a very noisy gearbox and the speedo didn’t work; I found another gearbox at a scrap yard near Corve Bridge - I persuaded the owner to accept the Simca as payment in lieu of cash, but only after assuring him that it had a fully working radio! I managed to swap the gearbox over (at Woofferton, with the use of an inspection pit) in exactly one hour. Contrast that with the same job on the Simca! As you know, the Escort served us very well for many months – we went to St Jean de Monts and back, for example, as well as to Ilfracombe with your Uncle and his family, if you remember.

Eventually, the dreaded tinworm set in with a vengeance around the top of the MacPherson struts, and I sold it for spares for £25 to a colleague. I then bought the Avenger estate (£175, I think) from some shyster in the next town. It never was much cop, really, although it did get us to Ludlow and back at least once: I remember the thermostat on the electric fan packed up, so I wired it up so that the fan was blowing all the time. I did it so that there was a connection outside the car, just under the front bumper, so that you could disconnect it when it was parked! Once, whilst driving back home a Nickolls truck, passing the other way, dropped a stone from its load and shattered the driver’s window. It made a noise like a bullet – scared the sh*t out of me! I thought I’d been shot by a sniper. Such was the condition of the car by then, I never bothered to fix it. To avoid the (highly unlikely) possibility of theft, whenever shopping in town, I used to park with the driver’s door tight up against the wall in the car park at the shopping centre, and exit by the passenger door. I sold this for £25 as well, to the yard that there used to be in the town centre.

The Peugeot you’re thinking of was, in fact, a white Toyota Corolla E30 Wagon, which cost £500, from an old couple near the local hospital (the old chap had got beyond driving, I’m afraid). I can’t remember too much about this little beauty except that the engine blew up when I was driving to the docks for a nightshift, having dropped off Aunt Dot in Sevenoaks. Btw, I think it was the Toyota which we took to St Tropez and back, which was a fair hike!

Then it was the turn of the Burgundy Morris Oxford Series Vl, (£190) which was similar to the Cambridge but had smaller tail fins and a 1622cc engine. It was an automatic – Paul McKenna (my colleague, not the illusionist) had bought it so that he could still drive after breaking his left leg playing football. As with the Cambridge (they were practically identical, mechanically) it was very easy to work on. The only slight problem was, being an automatic, you couldn’t bump-start it; and, although there was a starting handle, someone had replaced the front cross-member with one from a later model – it had no hole for the starting handle to go through! I once had a slight altercation with a pick-up truck at the village roundabout – nothing serious, but when I examined the front wing, I observed that the slight bump had caused a large hole to appear, and that, lying in the road, was a piece of chicken wire surrounded by a pile of burgundy-coloured dust, that had once been filler. One Arthur Daley-type MOT later, this, too, was sold for banger-racing, for £40.

Rubbishcars4.png

We then had the Volvo 244, another automatic. Also very comfortable, very thirsty, and not much performance. I bought this from friends of your mothers religious friends for £900, and only later discovered that the heater didn’t work. I didn’t dare complain, as they’d have probably set some God on me. It was during the ownership of this car that I managed to lose my licence, but we won’t dwell on that here.

On resumption of normal service, I noticed that the Volvo was starting to overheat badly, and as another French holiday was imminent, something else was needed, pronto. (I later sold the Volvo for £50 to a taxi driver who lived in a caravan next to the local pub). Enter the Renault 18 estate, bought from a guy not too far away for £125. This went quite fast but didn’t have very good brakes (I don’t know whether you were ever aware of that). It got us all the way to les Sables d’Olonne, but not, as you will remember only too well, back again. I don’t know whether we were weighed down with excess baggage (I still maintain that high heels and two evening dresses are not must-have items to take on a camping holiday) but it’s probably still rotting away quietly in that scrap yard near la Rochelle. All I know is, that whoever sold me that AA 5* breakdown insurance probably got the sack when the bills started rolling in..."

So as you can see your honour, I have a pretty strong case against our father. Although we love him dearly, he did absolutely nothing for our street cred when it came to the family car. However, it's these occasions that make our childhood memories; the smell of musty leather seats, cheap n' nasty lemon air freshners and Swarfega after a trip to the scrapyard in the drizzling rain. The rubbish cassette player that chewed up my new Mötley Crüe tape in 1987 and the time on holiday when the car was running so hot that when my Dad turned off the ignition the engine kept running ...but I wouldn't change it for the world!

World Book Day - 6th March 2014

twits2.png

With the rise and rise of smart phones, tablets and kindle use, it's really easy to be lazy in this day and age and forget about our old friend, the book. Whether your excuses, like mine are you haven't time or can't be bothered to dust them off from the bookcase, just have a think for one moment, where would we be without them? When I was a kid in the 70's/80's we didn't have electronic hand held devices or the internet but things called 'Libraries', and I used to love going to get stuff like Dr Seuss and Roald Dahl. I love things unusual and the pictures inspired me to draw my own characters. 

twits1.png

My favourite book that I bought from book club at school and kept reading over and over again was 'The Twits' by Roald Dahl and with the perfect marriage of drawings by Quentin Blake sets off a young imagination as If they live somewhere near you. But that's where the perfect marriage ends though, as the book is about a horrible couple that live together and play practical jokes on each other like putting worms in spaghetti eventually resulting them shrinking into nothing! I remember Mr Twit having a disgusting beard with all types of left over food stuck in it and Mrs Twit used to be pretty but turned ugly (and had a glass eye) because she had unattractive thoughts all day long.

I introduced 'The Twits' to my daughter when she was younger and will do the same with my little rascal of a son, who I know will absolutely love it! There's something very special about reading a good book especially when tucked up cosy in bed reading to your little ones before bedtime. Today, 6th March is 'World Book Day', so give a thought what 'made us' as a child into an adult and pass on these great books to your children and hopefully they will do the same when they have their own children.

'Good Morning?'

Have you ever had one of those mornings where everything seems to be going wrong for you, like you've done something horrendous in your past life?

Or is it just one of those things parents go through everyday? Yes of course there's far worse things happening to people all over the world, but I just had one of those mornings today that made me want to scream "Why me!"

I've had a bad back for over six weeks now - went to the doctors after four weeks and he fobbed me off with some ibuprofen. This morning I was in so much pain my wife nearly had to help me out of bed. I shuffled around getting my daughters packed lunch ready and managed to pull myself ito the shower whilst the wife rang the doctors. It's a walk in surgery first thing in the morning as it ridiculously takes weeks if you make an appointment! 10am my wife said, great, thanks I replied. I was trying to ring my mother so I didn't have to take our youngest with me (as the wife works full-time) - the probable cause of my back woes lifting him in and out of the car but couldn't get an answer.

I got to the doctors about 15mins early and checked myself in on their hi-tech computer screen fixed to the wall, and waited with my little boy who was being very well behaved at this point. 15mins went by, then 30mins, then 45mins, by this time the room was getting quite full. Why do I always get to sit next to the overly chatty person? Pleasant enough chap I suppose, but far too enthusiastic chatting away to my little boy and engaging him in 'high fives' Two young chavs, sorry.. young gentlemen strolled in wearing bobble hats demanding to see a doctor as soon as possible because he's a got a court hearing later on that day!

After an hour and Jacob now trying to escape from his pushchair and with background music from two screaming children, I noticed patients that arrived after me going in before me! I calmly walked up to reception and politely said that I'd been here an hour now and people arriving after me were being seen first. She looked at her screen and said "oh I'm sorry, you don't seem to have been checked in, I'll do that now but you'll have to wait for everyone else to go first"

My blood beginning to boil I said "you're joking aren't you", you're making me wait longer because of your mistake, I'm going next! I think she realised that wouldn't really be fair and let me go next.

After seeing the doctor and being prescribed muscle relaxants and diazepam I made my way to Hospital for some X-Rays. I walked our son back to the car and had slightly parked to the right of the parking bay deliberately so there was plenty of room for me to lift Jacob into the car, but some imbecile parked right on the line so I had to squeeze Jacob in whilst twisting my painful back in the process. I glum-fully slumped into the car seat thinking Jacob won't be able to put up with waiting again whilst I'm waiting for an X-ray so luckily by that time my mother had contacted me, she was off into town so I asked her to keep Jacob entertained whilst I go in.

After another 30mins waiting I was seen by which what I thought was a girl too young to be doing x-rays, the truth being I'm becoming an old git and everyone's starting to look younger in places of work!

She breezed through doing my x-rays seemingly knowing exactly what she was doing, bending me painfully in weird and wonderful positions with her senior x-rayologist looking on. They went around the back whilst I sat with my coat waiting for the nod for me to go. After a while the chap in charge said sorry sir we're going to have to do those all again as the junior had placed me wrong in front of the plates!

Jacob, whilst all this was going on was being treated to quavers and a kit-kat washed down with litres of squash, so he was quite happy. Dropping mother off into town, I proceeded towards Tesco to get my drugs with Jacob ...it was packed and there was a lengthy queue. "Have you any shopping to do sir?" Meaning it's going to take ages for your prescription! I made myself useful by searching for reduced meat n' veg when Jacob shouted at the top of his voice "Daddy, I'm wet!" pointing to the area so the whole shop could understand just that little bit clearer! Bugger he obviously drank too much, but I'd have to wait to change him, we were only 5mins from home and my back couldn't take going back to the car, back into baby changing etc....

On the way home, picking up a huge parcel from two doors away, I got into the house with two more blooming 'Whilst you were out..' tickets from Royal Mail! So clambering Jacob back into the car, I tried to drive up to the Post Office (60 seconds away, but I'm lazy ...and hey I've a bad back!) but there was a refuse lorry slowly making it's way past with a backlog of traffic. I eventually drove up to the Post Office and I couldn't find anywhere to park so had to drive around the block until one appeared.

No queue, hooray! The lady at the counter said to me "sorry sir, but one of these is for the main office in town" by that time I didn't care, I'd had enough of that morning and wanted the afternoon to come. I began to set off home and no word of a lie my car wouldn't start, I didn't understand why the battery wasn't flat but I was pushing the start button and nothing happened? I eventually got going and put our son into a nice dry nappy and bed, made myself a sandwich and sat down to rumble off this mornings endeavours onto the PC, but guess what? The PC wouldn't boot up! ...I hate some mornings!

How well did you do in the 'Pop Music' Quiz - VOL I?

Here are your answers...

01) Culture Club

02) 1958

03) Los Lobos

04) Prince

05) Detroit

06) 'Poison Arrow' by ABC

07) Everly Brothers

08) 'Waterloo'

09) 'Eye Level'

10) 'International Bright Young Thing'

11) Alan McGhee and Creation

12) Avril Lavigne (Let Go)

13) Two Tone

14) Frankie Goes To Hollywood

15) Phil Collins

16) 'It's Like That'

17) Melanie B

18) Red Wedge

19) Wham!

20) The Waterboys

21) Chic

22) Aswad

23) Tori Amos

24) 'The Sun Always Shines On TV'

25) Blue

26) Flash

27) 17

28) Chuck Berry

29) Johnny Mathis

30) The Happy Mondays

31) Floaters

32) Fugees

33) The Beastie Boys

34) 'Show You The Way To Go'

35) Andy

36) Stevie Wonder

37) The Boomtown Rats

38) Badly Drawn Boy

39) Andrea Bocelli

40) Gold

41) Baha Men

42) Marshall Mathers III

43) Cream

44) Nelson Mandela

45) The Sugarcubes

46) Adam Ant

47) Jane Birkin

48) Marvin Gaye

49) 1986

50) Elton John and Kiki Dee

51) The Smiths

52) The Walker Brothers

53) 'She Loves You' by The Beatles

54) Leiber and Stoller

55) Private Dancer by Tina Turner

56) 'I Will Survive'

57) Ricky Valance

58) 1991

59) Luther Vandross

60) Madonna

61) Florence Ballard

62) Armed Forces

63) 'Common People' by Pulp

64) Richard

65) Aqua

66) 'Macarena'

67) Jimmy Nail

68) The death of Princess Diana

69) 'Living Doll'

70) 'Puppy Love'

71) Michael Jackson

72) Blancmange

73) Missundastood by Pink

74) Christie Brinkley

75) Goldie

76) James Brown

77) 1970

78) 'Israelites' by Desmond Dekker and the Aces in 1969

79) En Vogue

80) 'Billy Don’t Be a Hero' by Paper Lace

81) The Bluebells

82) Phil Spector

83) Al Martino

84) 1995

85) Steps

86) Canada

87) Duran Duran

88) Johnny Cash

89) Chris DeBurgh

90) Frank Zappa

91) David Sneddon with 'Stop Living The Lie'

92) Jazzy Jeff & The Fresh Prince

93) Vincent Price

94) Paul Anka

95) Wet Wet Wet

96) "New York, London, Paris, Munich"

97) Anastacia

98) Damon Albarn

99) Jamiroquai

100) Lulu

How well did you do on the classic rock quiz?

Answers to the classic rock quiz..

01) 1994

02) Fish

03) 'Bring Your Daughter... to the Slaughter'

04) 'This is a Call'

05) 1979

06) 'I Can't Explain'

07) Spinal Tap

08) Mötley Crüe

09) 1993

10) England (London)

11) Vincent Damon Furnier

12) Young Guns II

13) 12

14) Dire Straits

15) A transvestite stealing women's clothes and underwear from a washing line!

16) 1964

17) New Yardbirds

18) 2009

19) Them Crooked Vultures

20) Lemmy of Motorhead

21) 27

22) Neil Young

23) 1979

24) Jethro Tull

25) They abandoned their trademark make-up and stage costumes

26) 'The Chain'

27) Generation X (or Gen X)

28) Rick Allen severed his left arm in a car accident

29) Aerosmith

30) Bad News

31) 1965

32) ZZ Top

33) Saint And Sinners

34) Gary Cherone of Extreme

35) 'Everything About You'

36) The Traveling Wilburys

37) 'Golden Brown'

38) The Police

39) Commercial airline pilot

40) Jim Morrison from The Doors

41) Supertramp

42) Guns N' Roses

43) 'Kayleigh'

44) Temple of the Dog

45) 'God Save The Queen'

46) Ronnie james Dio

47) Kent

48) Zanzibar (now Tanzania)

49) Eric Clapton

50) Frampton Comes Alive!

51) Wayne's World 2

52) 'Higher Ground'

53) Sting

54) Heart

55) 1989's 'Bleach'

56) U2

57) Steve Vai

58) 'Smoke on the Water'

59) Paul Rogers

60) Slash

61) 1975

62) None

63) Lenny Kravitz

64) 'Slippery When Wet'

65) 'Stairway to Heaven'

66) Judas Priest

67) Kiss

68) Meat Loaf

69) 1982

70) Pink Floyd with 'Another Brick in the Wall'

71) Fleetwood Mac

72) Quiet Riot

73) New Jersey

74) 1986

75) Alice Cooper

76) The Spencer Davies Group

77) Jefferson Airplane

78) Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid

79) Seattle

80) 'Yellow Pearl'

81) School-boy uniform

82) 'Jessica'

83) Scorpions

84) 17

85) 1977

86) Don't Stop Believin' by Journey

87) Tom & Jerry

88) Scotland

89) Mötley Crüe

90) Creedence Clearwater Revival

91) 'All Along the Watchtower'

92) 'Bohemian Rhapsody'

93) 'Run to the Hills'

94) The Hindenburg airship catching fire

95) 'The Piper at the Gates of Dawn'

96) 32
97) 'Paranoid'

98) 'I Want to Know What Love Is'

99) 'Silver Machine'

100) Sid Vicious

A romantic weekend away for mum and dad to Bruges

When my wife asked me where I'd like to go for my birthday weekend I didn't hesitate to ask if we could go to Bruges.

After seeing the Colin Farrell film 'In Bruges' I was impressed how stunning this beautiful city was and not being that keen on flying plus living in the South East, it's less than an hours drive from Dunkirk!

We travelled with DFDS Seaways which is a 2 hour crossing from Dover and with 24 crossings daily you'll be able to find a time slot that suits you from wherever you're travelling from. Prices with four people and a car start from as little as £29 each way, but as it was the wife and I, we went 1st class for a little peace and quiet and that all important wi-fi access.           

We were both astonished how easy it was to drive to Bruges and straight into the heart of the city centre. My wife who was driving was panicking whether she should be driving down the historic narrow cobbled streets, but nevertheless we had to get to our destination which was the simply charming Pand Hotel situated on a quiet street just of the Dijver area.           

The beautiful Pand Hotel in Bruges

The beautiful Pand Hotel in Bruges

The Pand Hotel was an 18th Century carriage house that's been transformed into delightful boutique hotel that's a member of the illustrious "Small Luxury Hotels of the World" which are notable for their exceptional quality.           

As soon as we arrived our bags were taken by the ever so polite and friendly staff and as we were arrived a little early had complimentary drinks brought to us from the cosy bar to where we were waiting in the gorgeous library where the large open fire, panelled walls, bookcases, antiques and fine art really sets the scene for a visit to a prominent world heritage site.

Moving on to our beautiful room; one of the junior suites which boasts air-con, jacuzzi, flat-screen dvd to name a few, was decorated in tasteful Ralph Lauren fabrics and stunning marble en-suite bathroom, we unpacked in haste to see what Bruge had to offer.

At the end of our street 'Pandreitje', is probably one of the most attractive views in Bruges, looking across the the Dijver river from Rozenhoedkaai you can see the hotel used in the film 'In Bruges' with the famous Belfry in the background. There's a great bar/cafe called 'T Klein Venetie' (Little Venice) which we would frequent a few times whilst passing, may I recommend you try the 'Bourgogne des Flandres' dark beer alongside a plate of cheese and salami with mustard - yum!

montage2.jpg

Walking along from 'Wollestraat' (Wool Street) you enter the heart of the city called 'The Markt' (The Market) Square where the 12th century Belfry is located and you can get an amazing view from the top of the 366 stairs but be prepared to queue, and 'The Provincial Court' which stands on the former site of the 'Waterhalle' next to which is the excellent 'Historium' walkthrough experience which is a medieval look at the golden age of Bruges.           

Also around the square are various eateries, but can be very busy and made us go off hunting for somewhere else to eat which lets you explore places that you may not have found. Additionally, this is where the horse and carriage trips go from, although we decided against this it as it was €40, not bad when you've a group of people but when there's just the two, a little expensive.

On our first evening meal we found ourselves at 'T Fonteintje' (The Wash Basin) on the corner at 'Simon Stevin Square' where I enjoyed a big pot of Mussels and fries washed down with a few glasses of wine. This is where we found out the reality that nearly everywhere to eat in Bruges is rather expensive. We were pre-warned that you're talking on average between €25 and €30 just for a main course without any drinks. The sun was setting and we had full view of the pretty square and cobbled streets in front of us with every so often a horse and carriage trotting past, so that reminded me that I was on a short holiday, but I don't think we could afford to live there!

montage5.jpg

After a good nights sleep at The Pand what better way to start the day than with Champagne breakfast. Not just a selection of bread, cold meats and cheese, fresh fruit, yoghurt and cereals, but fresh cooked eggs 3 ways, bacon, mushrooms and tomatoes all cooked in front of you on an old Arga stove! Served in an exquisite country-style breakfast room with white linen and silver teapots with full waiter service by the charming Ignace and makes you feel like royalty! Today was going to be educational as we were only here for a short stay wanted to see the main sights.

My wife Adele wanted to see the 'Madonna by Michelangelo' at the 'Church of Our Lady' just off 'Mariastraat'. The tower of the church is the tallest structure in Bruges and the 2nd tallest brickwork tower in the world. At the moment the church is have some internal floor restoration but you can still look at the Madonna and beautiful Nave.

After a relaxing pint of Jupiler at the 'De Wijngaert' bar and grill on 'Noordstraat' (North Street) we headed towards 'Begijnhof', a bizarre courtyard surrounded by identical living quarters used by sisterhoods of the roman catholic church. Although slightly eerie, very tranquil after the hustle and bustle of the busy narrow streets.

Onwards we strolled up past where the horse and carts stop to drink from the horse-head fountain to the outskirts of Bruges to an area called 'Minnewater' (Lake of Love). This is where the canal boats turn where hundreds of swans gather oblivious to them, legend goes the people of Bruges murdered a town administrator Pieter Lanchals. His name meaning long neck and the Lanchals family coat of arms featuring a white swan, Maximillian cursed Bruges to have to keep swans on their lakes eternally, but nevertheless makes for a pretty spectacle.

montage4.jpg

After seeing the canal boats in action and not having done the horse and carriage I enquired on a price and being only €8 each for half an hour tour I immediately booked us on the next canal trip. This is an absolute must and I recommend on doing this first as you can see places that you may have missed otherwise.

By the evening we were really struggling to decide where we wanted to eat and as it was getting late we decided on the Irish Bar 'Delany's' near 'Burg' which to be honest is something I don't make a habit of as I'm a believer of "when in Rome" and all that. However to be honest I really enjoyed it and highly endorse the Irish stew for not just being tasty and comforting, but very filling and cheap!

Day three, after breakfast we headed back towards the 'Mariastraat' area and the 'Memling in Sint-Jan - Hospitaalmuseum' at 'Old St. John's Hospital' one of Europe's oldest surviving hospital buildings. Dating from the middle ages Brothers and Sisters cared for for sick pilgrims and travellers and left behind an amazing array of fine art and fascinating medical artifacts.

De Halve Maan brewery tour

De Halve Maan brewery tour

A short walk to 'Walplein' brings you to my favourite building and an absolute must, the 'De Halve Maan' (The Half Moon) brewery! The only active brewery left in Bruges that when you buy your €7 ticket for the 45 minute tour includes a cold glass of either 'Brugse Zot' or 'Straffe Hendrik'. The tour takes you around the current brewing facility, then takes you back in time and the amusing guide tells you the history of the owners and processes involved. Be warned though there's a lot of climbing up vertical steps, but when you get to the top of the building you get an amazing panoramic view over Bruges.

montage6.jpg

After buying Belgium chocolates for gifts, we headed back the 'The Markt' and spent a good while in the 'Historium' as mentioned earlier, at the end of the tour the bar was sadly closed so we headed up 'Philipstockstraat' to a bar that was recommended to us called the 'Cambrinus' Bierbrasserie which has a reported 400 types of beers! We managed to get a table, but as this bar/restaurant is so popular we had to give it up in an hour as it was booked. I was getting in a bit of a kerfuffle as there's so much to choose from so I ended up getting a standard pint of Jupiler as I was so thirsty! After calming down and reading the drinks list we opted for the rack of four taster beers to sample the different styles and Adele instantly took a liking to the cherry fruit beer. With our hour up, we took our beer to the bar to specimen tasty and the not so tasty; the 'Brugs Witbeer' was supposed to have hints of lemon and coriander, but just tasted of seawater! Adele asked the waitress if there was a slot for a table and luckily we managed to get one by the bar and ordered a three course set meal including the delicious Flemish stew for €25. You could quite easily spend the whole evening as there's such a great atmosphere.

Our last afternoon consisted of taking in the sights of the beautiful surrounding streets and by the canals. There's nothing nicer than just chilling out at our now local bar 'Little Venice' by the 'Dijver' canal watching the world go by before our drive back to Dunkirk. By now I was just getting to know my way around the city and it's quite surprising how compact it really is and when we come back, which we will one day, I'm going bring my bike to explore a bit further.

www.pandhotel.com  
www.slh.com                       
www.dfdsseaways.co.uk 
Follow us on twitter @ourfamilylifeuk

You might also like:

Summer fun: Enjoy some family time at home in your garden

With the summer well under way, it's great to be outdoors. Here are some ideas to make your family time in the garden last longer.

I think we'll all agree how happy we are to finally see the back of the dire weather at the beginning of 2013 and look forward to what looks like to be a long, hot, record breaking summer! So there's no need to spend £1000's on holidays to warmer climates when you've got everything you need right here in your back garden and with these great products you'll be keeping the kids entertained and the parents contented.

Kudu Wooden Play Centre from plum- £949

From an early age our daughter has always been impossible to remove from play centres when it's time to go home, you know the type which you see in the gardens of pub restaurant chains. Thankfully nowadays Plum have got a great range of play centres to suit not just the size of your garden, but your wallet too! Plum's website has a huge selection of quality outdoor toys, so your only problem would be which one to choose.

 

Amber and Jacob having fun on the Kudu Wooden Play Centre from Plum

Amber and Jacob having fun on the Kudu Wooden Play Centre from Plum

My task in hand was to build the Kudu Wooden Play Centre which is an excellent example of an affordable play centre for a medium sized garden that's good value for money as it features a 9ft play tower with sandpit below, climb ladder with monkey bars, 2 swings, a glider swing and an 8ft wave slide! The age group for this item is recommended at for 3-12 years which is perfect for my almost 3 and 9 year old to test it out, but if you just have younger children you know you'll get many more years of play out of it. Assembly really requires 2 adults and you could probably get it done in a day, but it's possible to build on your own which I did do finding time in between the school run and my youngest ones afternoon naps.           

The play centre comes flat-packed with 4 main bundles of wood and the straightforward instructions help you locate what part you need to which bundle they're in, essential tools are an electric drill, socket set and a rubber mallet. (NB: It is required to anchor this product to the ground with the supplied anchors, but after assembly). I made good progress on my 1st stint building the main tower, the heavy duty materials used gave me confidence that this product would be safe and sturdy for our children. I did find it a little tricky locating wooden parts in the flat pack bundles to begin with, but the more you progress the easier it gets and the only part I did find a little frustrating was attaching the canvas arches, but this is probably where you need someone to help you.

 

playcenter3-2130788.jpg

The following afternoon, after the smart looking roof assembly was added you could really see the full piece come together. I shifted the tower to exactly where I wanted the final resting place to be as it would be very tricky to move on my own from here on. Next were the climbing ladder and monkey bars to be fitted, then the final wooden structure, the swing beam. This is where you begin to realise how uneven your garden is, but don't worry as you'll be anchoring it down when complete. I proudly showed my wife what I'd achieved that evening. Everything was fantastic apart from location ..she wanted it moved backwards diagonally by a metre or two! I didn't cause a fuss as I kind of agreed with her, but I don't think she realised what was involved. So the next day after removing the swing beam and monkey bars, moved the tower to it's final, FINAL resting place. With the main construction finished I was on the home run with just the making up of the swing accessories before completion.

playcenter4-2130792.jpg

There's nothing more satisfying than sweating in the garden for just a few afternoons than watching your kids faces light up with delight. Apart from swinging for hours on end, our daughter now practically lives in the tower like some kind of princess waiting to be rescued by her prince charming and our young son absolutely loves the glider swing and has a constant grin from ear to ear only for it to be met with a screaming fit when it's time to come off and go indoors! This product is absolutely great to encourage active play for fitter, happy children and perfect for encouraging them to get off their games consoles for some summer fun in the garden.

There is something for everyone with prices ranging from £39.99 - £3,299.99.

The Corfu Rattan Style Sofa Set from Keter  

The Corfu Rattan Style Sofa Set from Keter

 

Corfu Rattan Style Garden Furniture Set from Keter - £349.99

It's great to sit outdoors in comfort with all the family, whether it be just catching up on their day or relaxing with a glass of chilled rosé watching the sun go down. The stylish Corfu Rattan Style Garden 4-piece Furniture Set from Keter looks simply stunning in any type of garden and conservatory. Contemporary in design this furniture set needs absolutely no maintenance due to being constructed from durable weather-resistant resin, so no embarrassing moments when auntie falls through the decayed seat or a rusty leg collapses sending grandad into the flower beds! And no need to worry about direct sunlight fading the woven texture of this Rattan furniture as it's UV protected and will not fade over time.

The 2 seat sofa, 2 chairs and coffee table set comes flat-packed and will take you a good hour or so to construct, nevertheless it's very easy and the straightforward instructions guide you through with ease. No tools are required apart from the plastic wrench which is supplied and any unsightly screw nuts are closed off with coordinated covers. Once assembled, the ample seats have comfortable outdoor grade cushions to finish off the look. I was really pleased with the sturdiness of construction, especially with clumsy and over excited children running around the garden. Also, being very stable and with no sharp or hard edges it makes perfect sense for any young family to invest in this very practical and fashionable item.

Fancy a sausage or a burger? The 2 burner gas grill from Wilko
Fancy a sausage or a burger? The 2 burner gas grill from Wilko

2 Burner Gas Grill BBQ from Wilko- £125

At £125 you can't go wrong with this large 2 burner gas BBQ available from selected Wilko stores. Yes granted it'll take an average DIY'er over an hour to assemble, but that's how I expect Wilko can keep the cost so low. We haven't barbecued for a long time so this is an ideal model for BBQ novices to cook for a fair amount of family and friends.

After easy assembly, I was pleased how rigid the frame was which gives you that extra piece of mind over safety. The only extra you have to buy (obviously) is the propane cylinder from your local DIY superstore and once you've easily attached it to the supplied regulator you're ready to go. The uncomplicated controls are obvious and very easy to use, I stuck to the obvious foods like sausages, burgers and chicken legs to begin with and was pleased that all the food was cooked evenly unlike some charcoal grills. With the chicken and larger pieces of meat, you can put the lid down and grill it indirectly for very tasty and juicy results, the handy temperature gauge will let you know if things are getting a little too hot! This BBQ also features a handy side burner that you could use for frying those yummy sweet onions or warming some spicy baked beans for example. All in all this is a good quality and easy to use BBQ and probably the best value for money on the market.

Available in selected Wilko stores.

Jacob playing in his playhouse from Keter

Jacob playing in his playhouse from Keter

Rancho Playhouse from Keter - £99.98

The Keter Rancho Playhouse will keep your young ones entertained for hours on end. For indoor and outdoor use, this playhouse is made from durable plastic resin with no sharp edges and non fadable colours. This will literally take you less than 15 minutes to construct from flat pack and requires no tools apart from a plastic spade key provided. Our 2 year old son loved continually opening and closing the two window shutters and keeping daddy out with the closeable front door and at the end of the day what an ideal place to store all of your children's outdoor toys!

The cast iron chimenea from La Hacienda

The cast iron chimenea from La Hacienda

Cast Iron Chimnea from La Hacienda - RRP £119.99

As the day draws in and when it's time for the kids to go to bed, what a great way to relax outside in the early evening with this cast iron chimenea from 'La Hacienda'. Chimeneas originally from Mexico were used by tribesmen to provide heat for their families and for cooking and baking.

This solid cast iron chimenea is easy to construct and ready to use in less than an hour. Not only can it be used to get a nice romantic atmosphere with the wife in the late evenings, it also comes with a cooking grill so you can enjoy a little late supper. And unlike most summer garden equipment, why not even use this for winter garden activities, roasting chestnuts on an open fire?

See more at: www.lahacienda.co.uk