13 superstitions on Friday 13th

Are you superstitious? Most people say 'Of course not'. But how many of you touch wood, don’t walk under ladders, don’t open an umbrella indoors, or if you spill the salt, throw some over your shoulder?
Ah, now you might say yes!

I am superstitious to a point, I always say 'I salute you Sir magpie', if I see one on it's own, no matter where I am, who I’m with or what I am doing, and yes this can cause some funny looks from people wondering what on earth I am up to, especially if I'm driving my car on my own!

I have read some really unusual superstitions throughout the years and I thought I’d list a few. I still do most of these!

  1. So you might think getting out of bed is easy enough, but you’d be wrong. You must get out on the right side (the side you got in). If you don’t, you will be irritable all day and your friends will say ‘Did you get out of bed the wrong side this morning!’ You must also put your right foot out of bed first or you will do things wrong all day.
  2. If you discover a knot in your shoelace, that’s lucky!
  3. You must put on your right sock and shoe first, if you forget, you are likely to have an accident before the day is out.
  4. Ever put an item of clothing on inside out? It’s lucky, but only if you keep it like that all day!
  5. Never put new shoes on the table, this is bad luck.
  6. Salt was a precious commodity in the days before freezers and cans, as salt was used to preserve food. Because of it’s value it was thought to be unlucky to spill even a grain of it. In Yorkshire (I’m a Yorkshire lass), it was thought the devil lurked around the table at meal times, waiting to do mischief. Spilt salt gave him the chance he was waiting for. To foil his evil plans salt had to be thrown over the left shoulder by the person who split it, where it would hit the devil straight in the eye!
  7. In early times crossed knives were a sign of hostile intentions, it was important to lay your knife tidily on the plate next to the fork. Many people still do this.
  8. If you have a spare knife, put it under the front door mat - it will keep the witches out!
  9. After breakfast, don’t throw your eggshells on the fire or the hens will stop laying.
  10. If you have to pass under a bridge, try not to speak when you walk under it - it’s thought to be unlucky to walk or drive under when a train or car is passing over the top.
  11. If you do accidentally walk under a ladder, you can solve the problem by crossing your fingers and keeping them crossed until you see a dog.
  12. Brooms must be locked away, in case a passing witch should steal one and cause havoc (thank goodness for the good old vacuum cleaner)
  13. Do not pass anyone on the stairs, this is bad luck, but you can get rid of the bad luck by crossing your fingers or touching wood.

So if you see someone walking around with clothes on inside out, throwing salt, saluting magpies whilst walking around with knotted shoes, say hello to me!

I'd love to hear what things you do if you are superstitious. Leave a comment below.

Ten Ways Mums’ Lives Have Transformed in 50 Years

International courier ParcelHero looks at how Mum would have spent her day back in 1965.

1 Washing nappies 

Terry cloth nappies, fastened with large safety pins, were by far the main type of nappy in 1965; leaving Mum the gory task of scrubbing and washing baby’s best efforts in her Rolls Razor Twin Tub. By the end of the 1960s Pampers disposables had become hugely popular – one of the fastest switches in consumer buying patterns ever. We wonder why?

2 Slaving over a stove

With no ready-meals or microwaves, Mum spent much of her time cooking. Meat and veg was the staple meal, with take-away fish n’ chips a weekly treat. ‘Instant’ food was limited to Spam and other tinned items. Mum didn’t launch into spaghetti bolognaise or prawn cocktails until the 1970s.

3 Shopping, shopping, shopping

Much of Mum’s time was spent shopping. In 1963 only 3% of UK homes had freezers. She probably visited the corner shop and the grocer daily; and the local butcher, the fishmonger and baker more than once a week. There were only 572 supermarkets in the UK in 1961. By 1969 there were 3,400 including Gateway, Fine Fare, Tesco and Sainsbury. Thrifty Mum was careful to collect her Green Shield Stamps.

4 NOT going to work…

Most women either chose to give up work or were ‘let go’ when pregnant! In 1960 only 35% of married women worked at all, and most chose to give up work when they had babies. It was still legal to sack someone who was pregnant until 1975. Only 17 percent of moms who worked during pregnancy in 1961 went back to work before their children were five, compared to 65 percent of women today.

5 Leaving kids in front of the TV – but only for 15 minutes!

There was no all-day TV and no DVDs, so Mom looked forward to 1.30pm when, despite its name, she could leave the kids to view Watch with Mother on their own while she enjoyed a rare break. Andy Pandy and The Flower Pot Men were great for keeping toddlers entertained. For older kids Doctor Who was already a Saturday favourite and Thunderbirds proved to be a F.A.B. hit from lift-off in 1965.

6 Not doing much for Mother’s Day!

Poor Mum wasn’t likely to receive a Mother’s Day gift from her grown-up kids. There were no courier services to pick up the parcel from the senders’ door, no choice but Royal Mail’s prices, and definitely no Sunday delivery! Few families ever went out to a restaurant or drank wine, so no big celebrations. It wasn’t until the arrival of Bernie Inns and Mateus Rose, Black Tower and Blue Nunin the 1970s that eating out and enjoying a glass or two became popular.

7 Wearing a wedding ring

It may be thought of as the permissive swinging ‘60s, but only 5.8% of babies were born to unmarried mums in 1961; today 44% of mums have not tied the knot.

8 Pushing a heavy pram

Heavy metal Pedigree prams were still most popular for babies, their basic design hadn’t changed much since the Edwardian era. They needed a hefty push to climb kerbs, and forget getting them on a bus – especially as lowfloor buses weren’t introduced until the 1990s.

9 Having a cigarette

Half of all women smoked in the 1960s, compared to 1 in 5 today. It wasn’t until 1964 that the first major report into smoking health issues appeared. Women continued to smoke during pregnancy and, if they were anaemic, doctors would also often prescribe them free Guinness on the NHS!

10 Collapsing in front of Corrie!

Busy Mum picked up her kids from school in her shiny new Mini, Fiat 500 or Beetle, helped with homework, fed them Birds-Eye Fish Fingers, kept them amused with Thomas the Tank Engine, Barbie and Batman toys, before she finally collapsed in front of Coronation Street, complaining Dad didn’t help out much. How times have changed… Or maybe not!

Says ParcelHero’s Head of Public Relations, David Jinks: ‘Mums certainly had it tough 50 years ago, and, despite modern conveniences, it’s still massively hard work for today’s mothers, and they are probably holding down a career too! Mum deserves a treat so, rather than sending parcels, we’re sending one lucky mother and her guest on a pampering £400 spa visit. She can choose from a wealth of luxurious Wahanda spa venues, with indulgent treatments, breakfast, bubbles and dinner.’

David explains: ‘Entering our #senditwithlove Mother’s Day competition is simple. Just visit the ParcelHero Facebook page and tell us why your mum deserves her spa break. What’s the most wonderful thing she has done for you? In what way is she the Queen of Mums? We’d love to hear. For full details visit www.parcelhero.com/competitions/mothers-day

Review: Secret Cinema screens Back to the Future

Great Scott! I was one of the lucky ones who got to go to the Secret Cinema screening of my all-time favourite film, Back to the Future.
Anyone who knows me will know how obsessed I am about the film, from my iPhone case, to my ringtone, to collecting memorabilia, and also having the film on various formats. I even got my husband Mark, to put Back to the Future 1 and 2 films together by blending them onto the same VHS so I could watch both films in one go! And my long-suffering husband refuses to watch the films with me as I know them word for word. So yes, obsessed is the word.

I had high expectations, after the disappointing news last week that the first week of shows had to be cancelled.

Fabien Riggall, founder of the immersive film-experience company, said it was a 'myriad of reasons' for his decision to cancel the first week.

Many people took to social media to express their anger, and I could understand as people had paid for tickets, hotels, bought special fifties outfits, come from far and wide, so I had sympathy for them.

Along with my daughter, Amber, we were all dressed in fifties gear and met at Hackney Wick station. As it's Secret Cinema, you never find out the details of the events and are just given a place to turn up and will be directed when you arrive.

After a 15-minute walk we arrived at the entrance to the Olympic Park, only a venue of this size could cater for what we were about to experience. I just wish we could have met at the Olympic Park, as Hackney Wick station is a little awkward to get to.

People who had mobile phones had to give them in at the entrance, as mobiles weren't around in 1955, but it was really so pictures of the event didn't get out and spoil it for others going to the following shows.

The experience started with a walk down Riverside Drive, where there were houses from some of the characters in the film, a little disappointed with these as they were just a one room, large shed with not much inside, yes I realise they can't build full-size houses!

Walking past 1640 Riverside Drive, we looked into Doc Browns house, some nice touches in there.

As we entered the Hill Valley square, I was blown away.

Full-size clock tower, over 30 buildings including, Hill Valley High school complete with Enchantment Under the Sea dance inside, plus a very good actor playing the part of Mr Strickland. Also in the square were familiar shops from the film, the Texaco garage, Lou's diner, Roy's records, and of course Ruth's frock shop.

Everyone who registers are given a character, I was so please to be working for the Hill Valley Telegraph, and wore my press pass with pride. Amber was a student at Hill Valley high.

As we walked around taking in the sights, it was great to see almost all of the 3,500 people had made the effort to dress up, and that really made it fell like you were in 1955.

There was also a fair, complete with a ferris wheel and stalls.

As the doors opened at 5.30 and the screening didn't start until after 9pm, it was quite a long time, but we made a little base camp on the green in preparation for the film.

Adele and Amber all dressed up for the Back to the Future Secret Cinema event.

Adele and Amber all dressed up for the Back to the Future Secret Cinema event.

It was a shame we had to wait so long for food in Lou's diner, over an hour, and the toilets were ones like at a festival! But that aside, it was fantastic.

As the sun started to set over the Olympic park, the film began, to cheers from the crowd who all now sat on the green in the middle of the square.

The film was projected on to the clock tower so everyone had a great view.

At key points in the film, actors dressed as the characters treated us to some great scenes. As soon as I saw the DeLorean come out from backstage in a cloud of smoke, I knew this was going to be good.

I wasn't disappointed at all, and loved every minute. I loved the audiences reaction to certain scenes, enjoyed having a dance to Johnny Be Good and it was great to be with people who loved the film as much as I did.

Secret Cinema, I look forward to you putting on Back to the Future 2, next year as it will be the year Marty travels to in the future!

I'll have my own hoverboard by then (I wish).

Tickets available costing £53.50 (standard 16+) and £25 (child 5-15) www.secretcinema.org

The top 25 traditional family activities and days out revealed, inspired by Winnie-the-Pooh

Who doesn't love spending a traditional day out with the family. Forget all the gadgets for a day, and spend some good old fashioned fun on a day out with the kids. Whether it's going for a picnic, skimming stones or picking blackberries, spending quality time as a family is really important.

Traditional family activities seem to be making a come-back. This weekend my husband Mark and I will be taking our two children, Amber, ten and Jacob, three, to the seaside for a bit of rock-pooling.

VisitEngland encourages families to experience life’s simple pleasures inspired by the tales of Winnie-the-Pooh and Christopher Robin.

Enjoying a fish supper on Blackpool Pier, negotiating Hampton Court Maze and taking a stroll beside Hadrian’s Wall have been named as some of England’s greatest ‘simple pleasures’ according to a new study released today.

The new study on behalf of Egmont Publishing and supported by VisitEngland asked 2,000 parents to vote for the traditional activities, attractions and days out. The results provide a fascinating overview of the activities, which hark back to a bygone age when the great outdoors was considered the ultimate family tonic.

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From learning to skim stones to fossil hunting, exploring castles and forests reaching from Northumberland to Treyarnon Bay, ‘Winnie-the-Pooh’s 25 Simple Pleasures’ were named as:

1. Enjoying a fish supper on Blackpool Pier, Lancashire

2. Indulging in afternoon tea, Devon

3. Picnicking on the shores of Windermere in the Lake District, Cumbria

4. Rock-pooling in Treyarnon Bay, Cornwall

5. Camping in the New Forest, Hampshire

6. Marvelling at Stonehenge, Wiltshire

7. Getting lost in the maze at Hampton Court Palace, Greater London

8. Taking a stroll beside Hadrian’s Wall, Northumberland and Cumbria

9. Boating day out on the Broads, Norfolk and Suffolk

10. Watching the puffins on the Farne Islands, Northumberland

11. Stargazing in Exmoor National Park, Somerset and Devon

12. Taking in the vista from the peaks at the Peak District National Park, Derbyshire

13. Trying to make the Queen’s Guard laugh at Buckingham Palace

14. Watching the changing of the Guards at Windsor Castle, Berkshire

15. Fossil-hunting on Brook Beach, Isle of Wight

16. Exploring the famous White Cliffs of Dover

17. Playing Pooh Sticks at 100 Acre Wood, East Sussex

18. Rolling down the hills around Corfe Castle, Dorset

19. Visiting a honey farm in Devon

20. Skimming stones at Holy Island, Lindisfarne, Northumberland

21. Picking blackberries on Box Hill, Surrey

22. Riding a narrow boat through the canal ways, Birmingham

23. Taking in the grandeur of Chatsworth House from the park, Chatsworth, Derbyshire

24. Seeking out the deer at Richmond Park, London

25. Admiring Bamburgh Castle from the beach, Northumberland

The poll reveals that dining alfresco is a firm favourite, securing the first three slots in the top 10. No fewer than four National Parks appear in the full list of 25, highlighting our appreciation for England’s green space. Of these, two made it into the top 10.

Negotiating the maze at Hampton Court Palace was the only activity from the capital to make the top 10, although making the Queen’s Guard laugh came close at number 13. Winnie-the-Pooh’s Hundred Acre Woodin East Sussex, the original destination for playing Pooh Sticks in A.A. Milne’s classic novel, was voted into the 17th spot, closely followed by another favourite activity Pooh would enjoy - visiting a honey farm at number 19. Overall, the South West of England came out on top as the area that offers the best opportunity to enjoy life’s simple pleasures, closely followed by the South East and the Midlands.

Nearly half of respondents claim their fondest holiday memories are from time spent in England, with having a picnic, taking a walk and building sandcastles coming out as the most memorable activities. Interestingly the research shows that kids today get outside almost as much as their parents did, with nearly 50% of families enjoying outdoors activities. Parents also highlighted just how precious quality family time is, with over a third saying they enjoy at least one family outing a month.

The ‘Simple Pleasures’ campaign was developed by and inspired by Winnie-the-Pooh to encourage modern families to enjoy the great outdoors whilst celebrating our great English heritage. The activities reflect the core themes in A. A. Milne’s best-selling books, which centre around a series of simple adventures for Winnie-the-Pooh and his close friends in the Hundred Acre Wood - including playing the game ‘Pooh Sticks’.

The top 10 have inspired a new illustrated guide for families featuring brand new artwork by Mark Burgess, who coloured the original E.H Shepherd Black & White art and the latest book ‘Return to the Hundred Acre Wood’. The guide is available to download for free from the VisitEngland website.

James Berresford, Chief Executive, VisitEngland said: “It’s great that respondents’ fondest holiday memories are from time spent in England and we are thrilled that Pooh’s simple pleasures can be experienced across the country. We hope the guide will inspire families to discover, explore and enjoy the best of England this bank holiday.”

Sarah Bates, Publishing Director, Egmont commented: “Winnie-the-Pooh shares many a simple adventure with his friends in the Hundred Acre Wood so he is the perfect character to remind us how to enjoy the simple pleasures that England has to offer.”

To download the guide, visit www.VisitEngland.com/WinnieThePooh

England’s top 25 “Simple Pleasures” inspired by classic Winnie-the-Pooh tales are revealed today in a guide featuring brand new illustrations.

Review: Disney Junior Play App

With so many apps to choose from, it can be tricky to pick one that's right for your toddler.
Disney have just launched the new Disney Junior Play app and we love it!
By we, I mean my three year old son, Jacob, and I.

Jacob's face lights up every time I let him play on it. We're big fans of all things Disney, so we were really excited to see this new app.

It doesn't dissapoint. Great for little fingers, easy to navigate, quick to launch, and lots of games included.

The new iOS app Disney Junior Play is home to Doc McStuffins, Sofia the First, Jake and the Never Land Pirates, and Mickey Mouse Clubhouse, Disney Junior fans can now get even closer to their favourite characters on the go through a variety of activities including fun games, engaging video-clips and a digital sticker book.

Jacob loves playing on the Disney Junior Play App

Jacob loves playing on the Disney Junior Play App

Free to download, Disney Junior Play comes with the “Disney Junior Favourites” pack, featuring four multi-level games and a digital sticker book featuring Doc, Sofia, Jake and Mickey. Additional packs based on Disney Junior’s smash-hit shows Doc McStuffins, Sofia the First, Jake and the Never Land Pirates, and Mickey Mouse Clubhouse are available to purchase from within the app, each containing four games, a short form video and a digital sticker book.

It's easy to create a simple profile, and little ones can easily navigate through the home screen and access the games. One of Jacob's favourites is popping the balloons with Mickey and Goofy.

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The games encourage creativity, the kids learn how to solve problems, develop dexterity and the app helps with hand-eye co-ordination.

You know how much kids love stickers! Well, stickers are rewarded and collected during gameplay and can be saved in the sticker book; each pack having its own character themed sticker book and 25 stickers to collect.

Disney Junior Play will definitely keep little ones busy with fun, challenging games. Jacob didn't need muy help while playing on it, and I am pleased beacuse there are no adverts within the game, so he can't accidently click on anything. Jacob didn't want to stop playing it!

The app is free to download and you get a good variety of games with the free app. I would recommend you buy the bundle which is currently £4.99, better value which will unlock 4 more parts of the game. Or you can buy them individually at £1.99 each.

These are the games you can buy extra:

  • Mickey Mouse Clubhouse 'Farmyard Fun'
  • Doc McStuffins 'Here to Help'
  • Jake and the Never Land Pirates 'Island Adventures'
  • Sofia the First 'A Royal Party'

Key Features:

  • 20+ games available, including;
  • Jigsaw puzzles to encourage problem solving
  • Catching games to reward fast fingers
  • Dress-up games to inspire imaginative play
  • Placement games to encourage logical thinking
  • Hide-and-seek games to reward observation skills
  • Three levels in each game
  • 25 digital stickers to collect in each pack
  • Catchy videos to watch again and again!
  • Supports up to four profiles, so each of your children can save their progress
  • Play anywhere, any time as all content works offline, including videos
  • No adverts so your child can play safely
  • In-app purchases are only available in the pin-protected store, so only an adult can access
  • Supports iPhone 4+, iPod 4+, and iPad 2+

Check out my video review and see the app in real-time.

Each pack features a set of adventures and stimulating play topics that transport kids into the world of their favourite Disney Junior characters; from helping Doc choose the right clothes for the weather to helping Jake and his crew design a sand castle for a pirate king.

Disney Junior Play has been designed to keep little ones busy with fun, challenging games that feature everyday themes, but while a lot of fun for kids, the app has also been developed with parents in mind.

Purchases within Disney Junior Play are both safe and secure with payments facilitated only after parents have correctly passed through the child-protection screen. Once within the store parents can browse and purchase additional character themed packs to add to their Disney Junior Play collection.  Each pack retails at £1.99, or can be purchased as part of a money saving bundle, all 4 games for £4.99

What are you waiting for, go an have a play on the Disney Junior Play app.
Available to download from the app store.

www.disney.co.uk

Disclosure: I was provided with the full app to review free of charge.

Father's Day gift guide: Ideas for what to buy your dad on his special day

If like me, every year you’re completely stumped on what to get for Father's day. Not just for your Dad, but also for your husband or partner from the kids... then I have a few ideas for you.

Each year we leave it to the last minute and end up sneaking out to the supermarket to the generic aisle of useless, novelty items that are just going to be shoved in the drawer or in back of a cupboard to gather dust, why not get something that he’ll enjoy and even be practical.

Don't forget Father's day is on June 15.

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Cool Clothing and Superior Smellies

TK Maxx Mens Accessories: Henleys Trunk Boxers (£9.99), Storm Aviator Sunglasses (£12.99) and Original Penguin Cap (£12.99).

TK Maxx have a great selection of men’s accessories either available to buy online or just browse and visit one of their 277 stores. With a wide selection of big names at affordable prices you’ll be sure to find something to suit even the most stubborn, unfashionable man! Examples here are the modern looking ‘Henleys’ cotton boxers at half price, cool and classic ‘Storm Aviator Sunglasses’ for under half price and stylish yet casual ‘Original Penguin Cap’ available in 5 different colours.

www.tkmaxx.com

Bad Boy Clothing: Walk-in Hoodie (£49.99) and Legacy II Camo Shorts (£39.99)

For the sporty dads ‘Bad Boy Clothing’ offer a broad range of training clothing and urban casual wear for all year round and modern dads will love the vibrant colours and extreme branding. With free delivery on orders over £30 and same day dispatch, you’ve no excuse leaving it to the last minute and getting him yet another Family Guy T-shirt from a supermarket that he won’t wear! Featured are the Legacy II Camo training shorts which are great not just for the Gym but would suit a wide range of uses including cycling or even just the beach and the ‘Walk-in Hoodie’ is not your standard hoodie but high quality with a striking embroidered logo to the rear.

www.badboy-uk.com

Gold JAY Z edt (£35), XANTHE Mens Urban Quickfix (£35) and Davidoff Cool Water (£27.99)

Now apart from Christmas, the best time to get some posh smellies for your husband is Father’s Day and let’s face it you're the one who has to smell him so why not get something you both like? Exclusive to Superdrug ‘Gold by JAY Z’ is a fantastic new eau de toilette launched by the rap legend Jay Z, spicy and rich this is no doubt a masculine fragrance but the ladies will love it too! Available online, ‘BeautyLab’ in Harley Street London make some high-end yet affordable male grooming serums and the ‘Xanthe Urban Quickfix’ is ideal for everyday anti-aging moisturizing with anti-oxidants and that all important UV sun screen. Finally if you’re really stuck on what smellies to get him, why not go for ‘Davidoff Cool Water’ from ‘The Fragrance Shop’? You can’t go wrong with this extremely fresh smelling moreish scent. Currently at a great price you even get a free luxury washbag and mini wash/balms.

www.superdrug.com
www.beautylab.co.uk
www.thefragranceshop.co.uk

Police ‘Voyager’ Watch (£99)

If you’re looking for a watch with character then what about this super timepiece from ‘Police’. The ‘Voyager’ model oozes retro yet contemporary charm. The rectangle brown watch face with chunky typeface is perfectly evocative of the 1970’s, with water resistant (5 ATM) and genuine leather strap it’s just the quality item you’d expect from this Italian designer-wear company.

www.policelifestyle.com

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Premium Drinks and Spicy Condiments

Delaforce Vintage Port 2007 (£27.99), Barolo Briccobergera 2009 (£18.99) and Rioja Reserva 2007 (12.49)

If the old man is seriously into his wines then take a look at the devilishly good fun ‘Rude Wines’ where they scour the earth finding wines that are different and exclusive delivered directly to your door. As these fine wines are meant for sipping not slurping don’t expect a cheap Beaujolais nouveau or Blue Nun, there’s nothing but quality here! Starting with roast dinner on Father’s Day the medium bodied ‘Rioja Reserva, Villa del Camino’ from Spain - fruity, spicy and hints of vanilla, this ruby red goes perfectly with lamb. Moving on to the cheese board, the fitting and little more expensive Italian ‘Barolo Briccobergera Piemonte’ is a beautiful full bodied yet subtle Garnet red which features orange highlights. Finishing off the evening it’s got to be Port and the ‘Delaforce Late Bottled Vintage’ makes a perfect gift, coming in a smart presentation box with two port glasses. This deep red Port is full of flavour, rich with plumb and berries and goes perfect with those late evening nibbles such as Stilton or Roquefort and fruit and nut chocolate, mmm!

www.rudewines.co.uk

Yamazaki and Hakushu Distiller's Reserve Japanese Whisky (£42 each)

You’d be surprised if not very knowledgeable on the subject of Whiskies and how many countries produce this famous spirit, Australia, Germany and India to name a few. Owned by the famous Suntory brewers and distillers and available from Sainsbury’s, these two Japanese Whiskies, ‘Yamazaki’ and ‘Hakushu’ single malts are great examples from Japans oldest distillers. The flagship single malt ‘Yamazaki’ is gold in colour with red berry and oak aromas alongside raspberry, peach and slight coconut on the palate with vanilla and hint of cinnamon to finish – if that doesn’t get you salivating nothing will! ‘Hakushu’ on the other hand is rather different. Distilled in the mountains and forests attributes to the freshness of this much lighter gold in colour whisky. Peppermint, melon and cucumber to the nose amidst citrus and thyme on the palate with a refreshing smokey finish. I think you’ll agree these sound fascinating and would be a talking point at any gathering.

www.sainsburys.co.uk

Round the World Chilli Tour (£35) and Borderfields Infusions Oil Sets (£10.99)

I’m useless with anything spicy and hot, I even had a korma which was too hot for me once, but we all know men and their love affair with chilli! ‘Sous Chef’ do a great tongue-tingling ‘Round the World Chili Tour’ package (free UK delivery) that includes 12 chilli based ingredients including Hot Texas Sauce, Sambal Oeleck Paste and the quite deadly Nag Bhut Jolokia Chilli Powder! With such a great array from Asia, Europe and the Americas there’ll always be something in the cupboard waiting to be added to Dad’s favourite dish. Another culinary idea for Dads is the’ Infusions Oil’ Set from ‘Borderfield’. Made from cold pressed rapeseed oil, this 125ml x 4 set contains the light & fresh Basil, Hot & Fiery Chilli, Fresh and Zingy Lemon and Warm & Aromatic Garlic. Furthermore to rapeseed having a lovely slightly nutty taste it’s full of a mix of omega oils, so good for your body too. Ideal on salads, pasta and meats. My favourite use for them is to bake a fresh loaf of bread and just simply use them for dipping oils with olives and cheeses, yum!

www.souschef.co.uk

Borderfields Infusions Oil Sets available from Amazon from 6th June.

Adnams 5l Mini Cask Twin-Pack (£31.98) and Kirin Ichiban Japanese Beer (£1.69)

Now that the weather is warming up (fingers crossed) and you fancy a BBQ on Father’s Day, Adnams do a selection of their tasty beers (stock subject to availability) in handy mini cask twin-packs to guarantee he won’t run out of his favourite ale! Each twin-pack contains 10 litres of beer which is equivalent to 17 ½ pints, great value for a premium beer at £1.80 a pint. Featured are 2 pale ales ‘Mosaic’ 4.1% abv made with mosaic hops, a fresh and fruity blonde and ‘Ghost Ship’ 4.5% abv a blend of American citrus hops and inspired by Adnams own haunted 600 year old pub, both ideal for sunny afternoons in the garden. If you’re a lager drinker then may I recommend ‘Kirin Ichiban’ 5% abv Japanese Lager. Being made only from the 1st pressing (other lagers are pressed more than once) giving you a sweet and very flavoursome beer, making it one of the world’s most expensively brewed beers and to enjoy Kirin Ichiban at its best try it superchilled with Sushi and Tempura.

www.cellarandkitchen.adnams.co.uk
www.kirinichiban.co.uk

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Marvellous Gadgets

Ruark R1 Tabletop DAB Radio (£179) and Maxell Retro DJ Headphones (£25)

With loads of brilliant radio stations, DAB radios have been a must in households for some years now. Early models looked cheap and dated and sound quality pretty naff too, not anymore! The splendid looking ‘Ruark R1’ not only looks great with its retro walnut veneer styling, but the radio housing acts like an amplifying speaker which certainly packs a punch for a small desktop radio. No complex buttons all over the place either, just one uncomplicated dial on top for easy navigation. The large display is crisp and easy to understand and with a light sensor, dims in low-lit rooms, with this and an alarm makes it also perfect for the bedroom. On the rear there’s auxiliary inputs so you can enjoy the superb sound of the R1 through your iPhone, additionally a headphone socket so you can’t annoy everyone with Jazz FM!

And what better way to listen through when you’re plugged in is these retro DJ headphones from ‘Maxell’. Available from QVC these very comfortable headphones have an amazing rich & full sound whilst blocking out any background noise. With the cable on just one side, tangling becomes a thing of the past and with a 6mm jack adaptor you can easily listen to multiple audio equipment.

www.ruarkaudio.com
www.qvcuk.com

Forge Steel 47 Piece General Tool Kit (£59.99) and Draper Ultimate Spanner Set (£39.95)

Fed up of bemoaning Dads that can never find their philips screwdriver or that he’s mislaid his tape measure? The ‘Forge Steel’ 47 Piece General Tool Kit from Screwfix not only keeps all his tools all in one place in a handy carry bag, but comes with all the general purpose tools he’ll need to my jobs done! There’s a great selection of good quality tools including 6 screwdrivers, utility knife, measuring tape, pliers and hacksaw to name but a few.

But if the men in your life have plentiful types of tools but never seem to have the right sized spanner then what else do you need but the ‘Ultimate Spanner Set’ from ‘Draper’, Ingeniously colour coordinated so you can quickly Identify what size you need, this 13 piece hi-torque, hardened steel set will last him a lifetime.

www.screwfix.com
www.drapertools.com

Seagate 2TB External Hard Drive (£59) and Netgear AC750 WiFi Range Extender (£64.79)

Is your PC full up of junk that you wouldn’t mind keeping but killing the performance of your machine, or are you paranoid that when your computer goes pop you’ll lose all those mp3’s and precious family photos? Then a ‘Seagate External Hard Drive’ from ‘Currys’ is definitely the answer. Much more affordably priced than they were a few years ago and now available with absolutely massive storage. Compatible with XP, Vista Windows 7 & 8 operating systems it stores data information in seconds via USB 3.0 cable by simply dragging and dropping. Also available in 500GB, 1TB, 3TB and 4TB models.

Another amazing product that’s not just essential for home PCs, laptops and tablets but smartphones too is the ‘Netgear WiFi Range Extender’ from ‘Amazon’. If you suffer from loss of WiFi signal in your home because of thick walls or lack of coverage upstairs, you just simply plug in this clever little box to boost the WiFi coverage all around your home and even the garden. There’s also a Ethernet port for you to plug in games consoles, smart TVs and bluray players.

www.currys.co.uk
www.amazon.co.uk

Roku Streaming HDMI Stick (£49.99) and One For All Tablet Remote Control (£59)

Can’t find anything to watch on TV? The ‘Roku Streaming Stick’ streams 500+ TV channels via the internet all through this marvellous little stick that you plug into your TVs HDMI input. With free channels such as BBC iPlayer, You Tube, 4oD and Facebook it’s worth it alone, but there’s all the top pay channels to like Netflix, Sky Sports and Now TV. You can either control Roku through a simple remote or an app through your smartphone which via Roku apps you can send music, videos and photos to your TV.

I think at the last count we had about ten different remotes for various devices, it’s ridiculous, but the war on who controls the remote is legendary in all households across the country! Make him feel special this Father’s Day by treating him to the ‘One For All’ Tablet Remote Bridge by ‘Nevo’. It turns you iPad or android tablet into a smart remote via a WiFi Bridge and a free downloadable app. Works with 1,000s of TV brands, this device is simple to set up you can personalise your tablet to suit his needs and with one simple control to watch a programme it will switch on your TV, select the right HDMI ports and turn on your amplifier, now that’s quite special.

www.roku.com
www.oneforall.co.uk

We take so many pictures of our kids, but what about mum and dad?

As I dived behind a chair at my daughter's 10th birthday celebrations, I began to think about how many photographs of our children we had taken in just a few short years. 

We almost have a flicker book from when they were born to present day. 

At my son's recent pre-school photograph, I was amazed that at 3 years old, the photographer took 2 shots of him and it was done. Not much coaxing or squeezing a noisy animal whilst jumping up and down behind the photographer and saying 'come on smile' was needed!

Kids are so used to having their pictures taken nowadays they aren't fazed by it. Which is ironic because with digital cameras you can take as many as you like, you only had 24 or 36 (which you could always squeeze a couple more snaps out of) pics you could take when I was young on a roll of film! Apologies if any younger people are reading this and have no idea what I'm talking about (I'm starting to feel old now). Have a look on Google!

I remember having my picture taken as a child, mostly by my Grandparents. My Grandma had one of those long thin cameras that had a tall flash that you slide on top of it, that looked liked a mini tray of ice cubes! We'd have to wait what seemed an eternity for the flash to be ready, it took so long, no wonder we had some corkers! She always managed to chop the top of our heads off which was a running joke when we had waited 2 weeks for the pics to be developed and at least one had a sticker over it saying it could be improved!

I have to say, my Grandma who has just gone 81 (don't tell her I said that, she will go mad), sends me a text at least once a week, so she has always been into modern things! She isn't on facebook, and I'd love to get her a little netbook to use it, she calls it faceache, and gets a bit annoyed because people find out things and see pictures on there before her and she was always the one to know what's going on first!

It's sad really as we never print out our digital pictures, when we had been on a family holiday when I was younger, the anticipation in waiting for the rolls of film to be developed and returned, then going to my grandparents houses and having an evening of showing those photos was a lovely thing to do. We don't do that anymore.

I love taking pictures of the kids, on my phone, with the small digital camera or my big digital SLR (still never had time to learn to use it properly).

I got a bit grumpy with my husband while on our daughter's birthday cinema and meal outing because he'd put a picture of me with our birthday girl and her friends at the cinema on to Facebook without me seeing it first! 

Thank goodness for Instagram sometimes, because to be honest, that's the only time I'd be happy with a picture of me being made public, if it had gone through one of Instagrams lovely filters, oh and taken from a height, so I have no chin, erm... and only my left side, and head and shoulders only, ok! 

I then started to think of how every time a photo opportunity presented itself, I would always say 'I'll take it, go on, you lot get together'. 

The reason for this was I don't like my photo being taken! 

This can depend on how I feel about myself that particular day.  

In the last 20 years, my weight has fluctuated massively, I have clothes in 8 different sizes!

You will find plenty of pics of me when I was smaller in size! 

It only occured to me at the latest get together, that my children won't have many/if any pictures of me when I'm not here anymore.

I know it sounds a bit of a morbid thing to think about, but I love to look back at old photos of my family, to bring back the memories to the front of my mind and step back in time just for a few minutes. 

So I really need to pull myself together and start having my picture taken more, no matter what I feel I look like! Somethings better than nothing, right? 

So here goes, the first step... here's a picture of me with my children, Jacob had chicken pox when this was taken!

Amber, Jacob and camera shy mummy!

Amber, Jacob and camera shy mummy!

I'd love to hear your thoughts. You can leave a comment below. Thanks.

Mad Blog Awards 2014

The MAD Blog Awards are the Mum and Dad Awards, they are the UK's biggest awards for parent blogs.

I am putting myself up for nomination this year *gulp*.

Our Family Life website is something I have been working hard on since last year, so it's fairly new.

I'm a full-time working mum, and along with my husband Mark (who blogs on here too), who's a stay at home dad (has been for 10 years now), and our daughter Amber (who is also getting the blogging bug), and our cheeky monkey of a son Jacob, we talk about all aspects of our family life.

We are the Jennings family

We are the Jennings family

This whole blogging business started almost 5 years ago. I work for a national newspaper, and one day we were asked if anyone wanted to write a blog. I said 'Yes I will', then asked 'What's a blog?'

I write family features/blogs on mirror.co.uk but don't be mistaken, I'm not a writer, I'm a blogger. I write in my own voice as though I'm telling someone a story over a cup of tea! I'm the Art Editor of The Sunday People so I design pages, I don't write the stories. 

As I got used to writing, I enjoyed it more and more. I decided to start our own website.

With the help of my husband, our daughter, and our son, we try and cover most things we get up to. From family days out to product reviews.

This is the first year I have put myself forward for the MAD Blog Awards and it is a little scary as the parenting blogging world is growing every year, and there are some amazing blogs out there. Every one of them done out of love, frustration, happiness, sadness and just because that's the life that's important to them!

This is the life that's important to me - my family!

I would love to be nominated as a newbie in the Best New Blog category. 

If you would like to nominate me click the link below and nominate away. I would really appreciate it!

Thanks for reading!

Adele x

MAD Blog Awards


Cooking with grandchildren, we try out one of Sherrie Hewson's new recipes

When I was young, I loved watching both my grandmas baking yummy treats. I have such fond memories of steam filled kitchens with delicious smells floating around the house.

I have a few recipes from my grandmas, an amazing Yorkshire puddings recipe from my grandma Shaw, and another is for meat and potato pie from my grandma Brearley. Using their recipes, they are perfect every time.

I think, if you are lucky enough to have a grandma, nana, nanny or a nonna (as my children call my mum), then it's great to cook with them.

bookcover.jpg

You learn so much cooking with your grandma, and just spending that bit of quality time with them is lovely.

Nowadays we always seem to be in a rush, clock watching, making sure the kids are in school on time, after school clubs, lessons, parties, or out with friends, that's before you've done the washing, sorted the house, and done everything else that comes with the mayhem of having a family.

Sherrie Hewson, has a new book out called Nana's kitchen, and it has over 100 family recipes for you to choose from.

I love Sherrie in ITV's comedy Benidorm, she has starred in some of the nation's favourite programmes including: Loose Women, Coronation Street, Crossroads and Emmerdale.

We had the perfect opportunity to test out one of her recipes when my mum, Elaine (nonna) and my grandma, Margaret (grandma great) came to stay with us for a few days.

My daughter Amber, 10, chose the recipe she wanted to make, and not surprisingly she went for the Crispy Crunchy Chocolate Popcorn Drops.

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Crispy Crunchy Chocolate Popcorn Drops

Making these is messy fun and not for the faint hearted - it's guaranteed to give you a cleaning-up job, but the kids love making them, so it's worth the effort. You can leave out the nuts if anyone is allergic. The popcorn drops are just as good without.

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Makes 24

  • 350g milk chocolate (use any flavour you like, or try chocolate caramel chunks), chopped
  • 120g toffee popcorn (or use 60g toffee popcorn and 60g plain popcorn
  • 240g chopped cashew nuts
  • Edible decorations of your choice
  1. Line a 24-hole mini-muffin tin with paper muffin cases.
  2. Melt chocolate in a bowl set over a pan of simmering water, stirring every 30 seconds.
  3. Place the popcorn and chopped nuts in a bowl and pour over the melted chocolate, stirring well until all the popcorn is evenly coated in chocolate.
  4. Place spoonfuls of the mixture into the muffin cases and, before the chocolate has chance to set, quickly add your decorations - sprinkles, mini marshmallows, chewy sweeties, small chocolate eggs... let your imagination run riot! Set aside until the chocolate has set.
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We had great fun making these and Amber loved licking the spoon!

As you can imagine, the whole lot had gone later that day with the help of my husband, Mark and our son, Jacob.

Grandma Great (Margaret), Nonna (Elaine) and Amber with the yummy chocolate popcorn drops

Grandma Great (Margaret), Nonna (Elaine) and Amber with the yummy chocolate popcorn drops

They taste yummy and they are so easy to make, and such fun!

Nana’s Kitchen by Sherrie Hewson is published by Macmillan, priced £20

Saying goodbye...

As I sit here and look at your peaceful sleeping face, I remember all the good times we had.

It's difficult to let myself get deep in thought as it makes me so upset when I do.

Just looking round the room we are in at the moment makes me have a lump in my throat.

We had such good times together.

Your smile as we walked in to your warm, welcoming, loving home every Sunday.

My much loved Grandma: Sheila Shaw

My much loved Grandma: Sheila Shaw

You loved having us all around to your house, your 'brood' as you called us.

I just keep staring at you, watching your chest move up and down, not knowing when it will do that for the last time.

Life can be so amazing and beautiful, but it can also be selfish and sad.

I know that we all have to die someday, but it's not a thing we like to talk about.

As I sit here in this chair, looking at you sleeping. I don't know what to expect.

I'm a little afraid, but I don't want you to be alone.

It's only when we face these kind of challenges in life, that we just stop and think for a moment, at what our life is like.

Yes, I like anyone else moan about things, but when it comes down to it, we are born into this world with nothing and we leave with nothing.

You are in the very end stages of Alzheimer's, and this is one horrible disease.

Bit by bit, the person I knew and who knew me so well, started to disappear.

That little bug eating away at your brain, is selfishly taking away the grandma I know and love.

How dare it, what right does it have to do that?

How can something so small, have such a massive effect on not only your life, but the life of your loving family around you.

I lean over the bed to talk to you, stroke your hair, hold your hand, and you are asleep.

As I am a need to know person, I try to read about what happens when we die.

I think I'm trying to make sense of it and trying to understand the process.

It's my birthday today. 

I'm so pleased to be able to spend it with you.

You have always been in my life, and I love everything about you.

Having to do a big swallow because one minute I'm ok, then the next I cry.

I cry at the thought of you not being here, the thought of not seeing your smiling face, the thought of never going back in time and doing the things I loved to do with you and grandad at your house.

I can see your life fading away, you are different today than you were yesterday.

So many things whizz through my mind, things from the past, the happy times, things now, watching you sleeping and wondering how long we have left with you.

To the immediate future and what is going to happen when you've gone.

Then the distant future and what my life will be like for me and my mum.

Will I be the same as you?

Will I get the same illness?

I've always been scared of dying, obviously the fear of the unknown.

Looking at you now, you look comfortable, serene, at peace in a warm bed, with people to care for you and loved ones at your bedside.

It is now my turn to make precious memories for my children.

If they have as good a memories as I had, then I will have done a good job!

I am very lucky to have been able to spend these last days with you, talking to you about times gone by, and all the lovely memories from my childhood made at your house.

Goodbye my beautiful grandma Shaw. 

Time to be back with the love of your life. My grandad is waiting for you.

See you in the morning for a cup of tea and some breakfast.

Rest in peace Sheila Shaw 1932-2013

Angelcare are recalling 600,000 monitors due to two strangulation deaths

In Canada, Angelcare Monitors Inc. is voluntarily recalling about 600,000 baby monitors following the death of two infants due to strangulation caused by the cord attached to the monitor's sensor pad.

© Consumer Product Safety Commission

© Consumer Product Safety Commission

Angelcare and the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission have received reports of two infant cord strangulation deaths. In November 2011, a 13-month-old female died in San Diego, California, and, in August 2004, an 8-month-old female died in Salem, Oregon. In both fatalities, the cord from the sensor pads was pulled into the crib by the infant. In addition, there have been two reports of infants who became entangled in cords of Angelcare baby monitor models, which did not result in fatalities. In these incidents, it could not be determined if the “sensor pad cord” or the “monitor cord” was involved in the incident.
 
The recall involves the Movement and Sound Monitor manufactured by Angelcare. This design of baby monitor includes a unique sensor pad placed inside the crib, under the mattress, to monitor movement of the baby. An electrical cord about 11 feet long is permanently connected from the sensor pad to the nursery monitor unit. The hazard is created by a cord within reach of a baby inside the crib. The cord can be pulled into the crib and can wrap around the child’s neck. The recall involves all versions of Angelcare sensor monitors including model numbers: AC1100, AC201, AC300, AC401 AC601 and 49255 that did not include rigid cord covers, offered in the remedy. The model number is located on the back of the nursery monitor unit. The monitors were manufactured between 1999 and 2013.

© Consumer Product Safety Commission

© Consumer Product Safety Commission

Angelcare is providing consumers with a repair kit that includes rigid protective cord covers through which the sensor pad cords can be threaded, a new, permanent electric cord warning label about the strangulation risk, and revised instructions.
 
The recalled baby monitors were sold at Babies R Us/Toys R Us, Burlington Coat Factory, Meijer, Sears, Walmart, Amazon.com, Target.com, Overstock.com, and nearly 70 small baby specialty stores, from October 1999 through September 2013 for about $100to $300. 
 
Consumers should immediately make sure cords are placed out of reach of the child and contact Angelcare toll-free at (855)355-2643 between 8 a.m. and 8 p.m. ET Monday through Friday or visit the firm's website at www.angelcarebaby.com to order the free repair kit.