Tuesday, 28 May 2013

A Very Big Challenge - all in aid of Cancer Research

 I found out on Friday that I had won a place in the The National Lottery 5 Mile Anniversary Run - an amazing event taking place on 21st July 2013.

The 5 mile course will cross the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park before reaching a thrilling conclusion on the track inside the stadium!!! Amazing - I am so excited about the challenge but I am completely scared too. I am notoriously poor at running - I nearly collapsed running for the bus once!

Anyway, although the race itself isn't for charity - it's to celebrate the anniversary of the Olympics and the National Lottery's crucial funding to our Olympic and Paralympic athletes - I have decided to run on behalf of Cancer Research. As you may remember my Dad has recovered from skin cancer and other members of my family have suffered from the horrible disease.

It is a cause very close to my heart, which is why I have agreed to run - even though at this moment in time it seems an impossible task.

I have around 50 days to train for this, so please wish me luck and sponsor me if you can...

(PS I know 5 miles may seem small to some people -but for me being so unfit, slightly overweight and a non-runner - this is a huge distance)
JustGiving - Sponsor me now!

Saturday, 18 May 2013

Eurovision 2013 - The Line Up (and why we haven't got a hope in hell of winning)

Tonight's the night. The only night of the year where you will sit through hours of diverse -but sometimes horrific- random warblings from our European neighbours....

Yes, as if you could forget.... it's time for Eurovision!!!

Just in case you didn't know, this year the Eurovision Song Contest will be held in the Swedish city of Malmö.

For those of you that don't remember (because let's face it you had already drank 2 litres of Latvian vodka by the time the winner was announced) last years winner was Loreen, winning the 2012 edition of Europe's Favourite TV Show with a fabulous 372 points.

Meanwhile, back in the UK, we stared embarrassingly at the screen as old time crooner Engelbert Humperdinck received a pitiful 12 points with his ballad, Love Will Set You Free. Unfortunately for the 'Hump', only Belgium, Estonia, Latvia and Ireland voted for him. *sad face*

So given that we did so badly in 2012 by forcing an old timer on to the stage I guess this year we should bring someone in someone new, someone young and fashionable... someone with loads of energy like last years winner Loreen as our represenatative.


Representing the music of today in this years Eurovision song contest is....

Bonnie - freakin - Tyler

Are you kidding me? I didn't even know she was still alive! Yes she was an amazing songstrel back in the day. Yes, I cried heart broken, to Total Eclipse of the Heart when my boyfriend of one week held someone elses hand in front of me in 1988 (I was 6) but really? Do we actually want Bonnie Tyler to represent the UK now? 30 years after she reached no. 1 in the UK chart?


For God's sakes people it's 2013!! Why can't we have some kind of social media submission for the UK entry? Start taking it seriously again? Let's find some really hot, raw, new talent via YouTube and project them in to the spotlight for their 15 minutes of fame.

Yeah, yeah, I know what they'll say, it's all about the politics. Every year we know exactly which countries will vote for each other, we say it's a fix - "they never vote for us" - well of course they bloody won't - because we're pushing ageing has beens on to the stage!!!

And to be honest, it's cruel. 

It's like the other week on The Voice when that bloke from Hear Say rocked up and no one turned around - you've had your day dude - just leave it at that. No one wants to be kicked in the b*llocks on Saturday night prime time TV. But he was - those little chairs stayed red and then when he's finished they all turned round with pitiful faces. He should have just stayed in pop history.

The exact same thing is going to happen to little old Bonnie tonight - she's going to fail because she too old and she is not what 'the people' want to see on the stage anymore (despite her now looking slightly like the one of the Finnish monster rockers off of 2006).

Sorry, I don't mean to be all hating on Ms Tyler but she needs to prepare herself for a last place finish.

There. I said it.

We're going to fail because we, as a country, are taking the p*ss by putting Bonnie Tyler off of the 80s in a musical competition against 25 other contestants old enough to be her grandchildren.

But despite that, I know you're all going to watch anyway. So just in case you came here for actual Eurovision info and not my euro whinings, here's the list of this years 26 finalists in order of appearance on tonight's show...

01 France - Amandine Bourgeois - L'enfer Et Moi
02 Lithuania - Andrius Pojavisview - Something
03 Moldova - Aliona Moon - O Mie
04 Finland - Krista Siegfrids - Marry Me
05 Spain - ESDM - Contigo Hasta El Final (With You Until The End)
06 Belgium - Roberto Bellarosa - Love Kills
07 Estonia - Birgit - Et Uus Saaks Alguse
08 Belarus - Alyona Lanskaya - Solayoh
09 Malta - Gianluca - Tomorrow
10 Russia - Dina Garipova - What If
11 Germany - Cascada - Glorious
12 Armenia - Dorians - Lonely Planet
13 The Netherlands - Anouk - Birds
14 Romania - Cezar - It's My Life
15 United Kingdom - Bonnie Tyler - Believe In Me
16 Sweden - Robin Stjernberg - You
17 Hungary - ByeAlex - Kedvesem (Zoohacker Remix)
18 Denmark - Emmelie de Forest - Only Teardrops
19 Iceland - Eythor Ingi - Eg Á Líf
20 Azerbaijan - Farid Mammadov - Hold Me
21 Greece - Koza Mostra feat. Agathon Iakovidis - Alcohol Is Free
22 Ukraine - Zlata Ognevich - Gravity
23 Italy - Marco Mengoni - L'Essenziale
24 Norway - Margaret Berger - I Feed You My Love
25 Georgia - Nodi Tatishvili & Sophie Gelovani - Waterfall
26 Ireland - Ryan Dolan - Only Love Survives

Good luck Bonnie - you haven't got a hope in hell.

Friday, 17 May 2013

This Summer's MUST HAVE cover up - The Kimono - Top 10 under £25

Right, hands up - who is living in fear that now the sun is starting to make an appearance?

No? Not owning up? Well I am. Don't get me wrong, I love the warm weather but my 'bikini body' isn't exactly going to plan. The diet is always starting 'next week' and my gym subscription flutters out of my bank account despite my 2 month absence. For me, Winter's been fab - I've wrapped myself up in chunky knits and hidden my wobbly bits under my winter woolies. But what now?

The suns coming out (gasp) and I can't just hide in the shadows til it goes away. So what's the plan? I can't be seen in my drab black cardi now that we're almost in to summer.

Well don't worry ladies, I have the answer...

 It's totally time to get yourself a kimono.

 A kimono? Yes I know what some of you are thinking...

but no... obviously I am not suggesting that you lose your winter wardrobe and don traditional Japanese dress for the summer - that would just be silly - although a great cover up if you do get desperate!

No... instead I am hear to tell you about this seasons must have item - THE KIMONO STYLE JACKET  - a lightweight cover up that will keep you looking stylish right though the summer months. Perfect if you want to wear a vest top but aren't comfortable flashing the flesh.

Trust me,a kimono is the answer to all of our prayers. It's light, it covers the arms and you can wear it for almost any occasion - it'll keep you looking on trend even if - like me - you've still got a mummy tummy despite giving birth alomost 3 years ago!

Pack one in your suitcase for ultimate versatility - kimono's are perfect as a poolside cover up or as a lightweight jacket for those cool nights at the bar.

And, as I know you lazy lot hate searching around for you're own bargain buys, I've picked my top 10 favourites and they're all under £25...

Emma Multi Ethnic Print Kimono WAS £20.00 NOW £15.00

Next Green Floral Kimono Style Wrap £25

Black Chiffon Kimono £14.99

Rare Butterfly Print Kimono Jacket WAS £35.00 NOW £17.00
Rainbow Print Kimono £8
G21 Sheer Printed Kimono £14
Innocence Black Fringe Kimono WAS £24.99 NOW £17.00
Red Herring Floral Kimono Wrap Jacket WAS £28.00 NOW £22.40
Prophecy Snake Print Kimono WAS £78.00 NOW £20.50

Influence Floral Sheer Kimono Jacket WAS £18.00 NOW £8.00

Sunday, 12 May 2013

Should We Have to Pay Nursery Fees for Bank Holidays?

This year when I changed jobs we had to move Little E to a new nursery. I was upset to be moving her but it wasn't practical to keep her somewhere completely out of the way (it used to be on my way to my old work.)

Anyways we were lucky enough to get her in to a fabulous new nursery with a top class OFSTED report so we were happy. Little E continued to attend nursery on the same days that she attended her old nursery - Monday and Friday.

The nursery rates are slightly higher at this nursery but we were happy to pay the extra. However last week I happened to notice on our invoice that we had been charged for the recent Bank Holidays. Now this really got me peeved .

Both Mister A and Little E attended the previous nursery on Mondays and Fridays and we were never asked to pay for the Bank Holiday days.

I decided to take this up with the nursery last week thinking that there had been mistake on the invoice. The nursery owner then advised that there was no mistake and that Bank Holidays were always charged for. I explained that this was unacceptable - we pay for a service and during Bank Holiday no service is provided. The owners response really got my back up - "Well I still have to pay my staff."

It's just not on! Why should I have to pay fees for 5 Bank Holidays totalling £200 each year when the nursery isn't even open? What if I still have to work on those days, what am I supposed to do then? Pay someone else to look after my children at a further cost? I also note that I am expected to pay for the days over Christmas when the nursery is closed! As if!

At the very least I would want the nursery to offer an alternative day of care.

In my opinion the cost of paying staff for Bank Holiday's should be incorporated in to the yearly fees and therefore spread across all of the parents fees across the nursery. Unfortunately, the nursery don't agree and that's why I have decided to change the day that Little E attends. But I am really, really annoyed!!!

I understand now (after much googling!) that it is common practice to charge for these days, but what do you think? Do you have to pay your childcare provided for a service that they aren't providing too? Have you even realised that you're paying for Bank Holidays? I'd love to hear your thoughts.

Saturday, 11 May 2013

How to Make a Picture Using Post It Notes - The Post-it Colour Challenge

A couple of weeks ago we received an email from the lovely people over at 3M Post-it. They explained that they had just launched Post-it Notes Colour Cubes - packs of Post-it Notes in a range of vibrant hues.

To celebrate the launch we were asked to take part in the Post-it Colour Challenge. We had to choose between two challenges - either create a piece of Post-it artwork on a canvas using our favourite coloured Post-it Notes or a decorate a plain piñata also using coloured Post-it Notes.

We chose the canvas challenge and last week a box full of goodies arrived so that we could begin...

We talked about what picture we should create first - Mister A wanted a beach with a palm tree and Little E wanted a flamingo (she loves them because she has a new T-Shirt with one on!)

In a bid to keep everyone happy we set about building our image. We started by placing blue Post-it's along the top for the sky and green at the bottom for the land.

We started to cut shapes out of the Post-It notes too- triangles and leaf shapes for the palm tree and a cloud shapes for the sky. Gradually a picture started to appear...

We made the grass area by cutting in to the green Post-it's to add texture....

and used the yellow to make the Sun and sun rays...

Finally we used the pink heart shaped Post-it pad and cut out the flamingo's body...

Just adding the final touches with a black marker pen...

And here it is - the finished artwork...

Why don't you have a try at making your own Post-it pic and upload it to the Post-it Facebook Page.

Disclosure: We received payment and a product pack from 3M to take part in this challenge.

Friday, 10 May 2013

The One Where We Have A Secret Wedding

I've not been around much this year because I've been a busy little bee. Since we last spoke I've become a married lady - and we didn't even tell anyone what we were planning!

As some of you may know, last August I was lucky enough to win an amazing holiday of a life time on a competition on the Carte Noire Facebook page. The trip was a 5* holiday for 2 to Thailand.

We were ecstatic but with the prize only being for 2 we were in a bit of a predicament - what about our little stars - Little E and Mister A?! After weeks of too-ing and fro-ing, will we, wont we go - we agreed to take my parents up on their offer to take Mister A and Little E off on a holiday of their own so that we could stop fretting and head to Thailand. We eventually selected a date in April to fly out and the holiday was booked.

The weeks went by and then one night, Chris and I started talking about how we'd always wanted to get married on the beach. And that was it.

We decided that we'd do it. Just the two of us  - on our dream trip.

We looked on the internet (natch) and then took it from there. We found out all the rules and knew that only one stood in our way...

Hmmm. Questionable. Despite knowing that both of us are in fact slightly insane we proceeded to research online.

In order for two British National's to be married in Thailand they have to visit the British Embassy in Bangkok. Perfect - our trip included 3 nights at the Four Seasons Hotel in Bangkok!

Our remaining 7 nights were at the Banyan Tree, Phuket. We contacted the hotel direct and made all of our plans with them via email. Everything from our ceremony right through to hair & make up and photographer was all done via the Banyan Tree on email. There was never any stress or worry and with no guests at the wedding the only thing we really needed to do ourselves was choose our outfits!

So I chose my dress...

And my Vivienne Westwood Anglomania shoes...

Chris ordered his linen suit (less important - obvs!)

The days went so fast and I was bursting at the seams to share each exciting detail but I couldn't!

Then on Sunday 14th April 2013 at 4.30pm, Chris and I married on beautiful Bangtao Beach after 12 years together (10 of them engaged!).

I walked down the sandy aisle to a beautiful version of Somewhere Over the Rainbow by - Israel "IZ" Kamakawiwo'ole.

We had a traditional Thai Ceremony...

... blessed by a Buddhist Monk.

Followed by a traditional Western exchanging of vows and rings.

After the ceremony we walked back up the beach to Your Song by Ewan McGregor from the Moulin Rouge Soundtrack.

We cut the cake...

popped the champagne...

and had our first dance to Come What May by Ewan McGregor and Nicole Kidman also from the film, Moulin Rouge. The lyrics are just beautiful.

After having a million photographs taken on the beautiful beach...

...we headed to the lagoon for our Sanya Rak dinner cruise where we boarded a traditional Thai longboat for the evening.

Once aboard we had our very own private chef to cook us THE most amazing 5 course meal we have ever eaten and a Thai Kim player to play beautiful music.

We watched the sun go down as we ate our wedding meal, drank copious amounts of champagne and Chang beer. After dark we returned to the jetty where we had a Lantern Blessing and Loy Kra-Thong Ceremony – where you make a wish and send your Kra-Thong floating on the lagoon.

It was just a magical day.

We returned to our villa to find candles lighting our villa, petals scattered on the floor and the outdoor bath filled for us with hundreds of orchids added. Another bottle of champagne was waiting and all of our wedding flowers from the beach had been moved to our room. It was such a special touch - they'd even swapped our cotton bedding to silk!

I never wanted the day to end.

Eventually, late that night, we shared our news with our family and friends and now I'm sharing it with you.