Wednesday, 20 May 2015

My Top 10 Gardening Tips! #GardenSecrets

I am quite simply obsessed with gardening. I remember as a child pulling carrots with my Dad on Sunday mornings in time for the roast and helping Mum weed (normally if I wanted something!) but now I love the quiet, the peace and the satisfaction it gives me.

I can be lost for hours in amongst my compost and pots and if I don't answer the phone I am probably in here:



Freegle is a great, great place to start (or Freecycle if that is what you have locally) to find items for your garden...

Like my gorgeous greenhouse which was put up at the weekend (thank you my wonderful friends).

So I thought I would do my 10 ten tips for anyone new to the hobby!


#1. Don't buy more seed than you need! It is really easy to get over enthusiastic and buy tons of seed - work out what space you have and what you REALLY want to grow.
Find a friend that enjoys it too and split packets etc

#2. Go to your local dump! If it has a 'sale' area or a 'too good to throw' spot and check regularly to see what gardening items are left - so far this year I have got:

Fork, spade, adjustable rake, loads of tools, Tumbler composter, 3 china pots 30 plastic pots, fairy ornament, 2 metal hanging baskets

Total cost £3.50!

#3 Car Boot sales are an awesome source of plants, pots, tools and well anything you can think of!
It saves you loads of money when setting up and you get plants at a fraction of the cost of a nursery/garden centre!

Boot Sale Bargain £3 RRP £20!!


#4 Make your own compost. You can make compost in all manner of containers from bags to buckets to large bins and wooden structures. I have 2 wormeries, 3 composters and a huge bag (the sort you fill instead of a skip) all cost me nothing to set up and the compost is AMAZING!

#5. WEED - I cannot stress  this enough! Every weed you pull out is one less later in the season and is worth the effort. Do not just rotovate it all in, spend the prep time and dig it out and then dig it over again!



#6. Get your children growing! Even if you don't have a garden - Ev and I didn't until he was 5, we planted a lemon pip together when he was 2 and grew it in our flat kitchen, planted a few potatoes in a tub... he LOVED it and even though he just about acknowledges me going on about my veg now, hopefully one day he might try it again (he certainly eats more veg because of growing it when he was little) you could even just do cress on some kitchen roll!




#7.  Mulch! I use all my Autumn leaves for mulch which helps to hold moisture and keeps weeds away. Make sure you investigate what trees you have and the best way to use them.

#8. Grow veg that cost a lot to buy. I worked out I saved an absolute fortune last summer just from the few varieties I grew. I love peppers, french beans and corn on the cob!

#9. Join a local gardening group or even an online forum. You will find a wealth of tips and knowledge and can swap/help each other no end! Which leads me on to my top tip....


#10. Seek out and make friends with the oldest gardener you can find - seriously hang out at your local allotment and TALK to them, they love passing on their tips and will willingly offer up any help they can!


Song for this POST



Thursday, 14 May 2015

Getting Your #LDN on with @Superbreak!

Evan and I LOVE London - it has always been a favourite place to go and I was always determined to take him as often as I possibly could so that he could be exposed to the vibrancy and multi-culture that it is so rich in.

He is now completely able to use the tube at 13 and I would be confident that if we ever get lost he could use the bus and tube to find me or our hotel!
I always wanted him to be know that by his later teens he could whisk himself off to the 'Old Smoke!'



I am sure it is in our genes as my Mum was born in Lambeth and evacuated down to Dorset as a baby, returning frequently after the war to visit and stay with family.  When Ev was a toddler we used to do car boot sales and he used to copy the traders and could be heard shouting "5lb of bananas for a £1!! " (we didn't have bananas) but the barra boy was in him, right n proppa, Guv.



SuperBreak are asking 'What Type of Tourist are You?' on their blog - and you get the chance to win an awesome 4* break in the capitol just for telling them which type you are and why!



We are definitely #LDNSuperCulture but also with a hint of #LDNSuperTheatre - as we just love to weed out the mysterious, infamous and down right creepy; places to visit!
Horror fans to the max we love Whitechapel and the Jack the Ripper tours, The London Dungeons and Tombs and basically anywhere that is just ...well a bit gross!

So far our favourite place to visit is the Old Operating Theatre and Herb Garret which is part of St. Thomas's Hospital and was hidden for years until discovered by accident in 1956!



We also do love a show and Ev is desperate to see The Woman in Black as he is crazy about the movie.
We are also REALLY up for the new Zombie experience that is currently taking place The Generation of Z - running until the 5th of July.



So what do you love about London? You can enter via Twitter or Facebook!

Make sure you enter!

Wednesday, 29 April 2015

Do You Know Your Aurora Borealis from Your Elbow? Transun Competition

Sometimes I get to thinking ... you know when you are staring out of the window and your mind goes of to distant places and far reaches of this amazing planet... Then the phone will ring and I am swiftly catapulted back to my kitchen and all things housework!

Transun are running a rather amazing competition; to win a trip to see the Northern Lights no less! Now this is a phenomena that I have always wanted to witness and to show my son, I know it is a natural occurrence when .. now is it magnetised protons and things hit the thermosphere in the upper atmosphere?
I prefer to think of it as something magical, like a portal or time machine ... but I'm eccentric (and proud) probably because I LOVE this movie and if you haven't seen it WATCH it! If only for the gorgeous Jim Caviezel: Frequency


 So for this awesome giveaway bloggers are being asked to write about their top three travel destinations bucket list, Easy! I thought but when sat and started thinking about the 3 most desirable places for me to toddle off to, it is really hard as there are so many!

I have however narrowed them down so here goes:


As I am such a movie and book fanatic in the style of any good award ceremony in reverse order;

3. Transylvania and the Dracula Trail!

It just has to be seen:

Bran Castle

I am a huge horror fan and all things of the pointy teeth variety, give me Gary Oldman in a top hat any day!
Romania boasts such history and architectural excellence that Evan and I would probably never want to leave! There are various tours you can take part in that encompass Vlad the Impaler and his deviant practises, abodes and his final resting place..







        
Gary in a top hat.....yum       



                                                           
Vlad - Kebab King....Not so much!

The country is just spectacular with such variances of weather and views to take your breath away!




2.

Bahrain

Evan's Grandparents moved to Kuwait when Ev was 5 so he very rarely gets to see them. Since then they have lived in various countries but have now settled in Manama. I would love to take him just so he can experience the culture and the differences from here.

They have a pool in their garden so he is desperate to visit (doesn't take much to make him happy!) but it truly would be an experience!


Nanny GG & Grandad Mark!


Mosque-Madrassa of Sultan Hassan


Drum roll for last but not least ... THE number 1 destination on my bucket list is......

South Africa -  the coast from the village of Gansbaai

Daaaaaa Dum

Daaaaaaa Dum!

say CHEESE!

Do you floss?

Yes, you've guessed it, my number 1 would be shark diving off the coast and has been since I was 5 years old and saw the film:



It must be my darker half that wants to do this and seeing as I cannot swim, is slightly bizarre BUT I will get to do this one day!

Sharks aside though what an amazing country!



So there you have it, my top three only just beating the Paris Catacombs, Florence, Salem and The Lord of the Rings set in New Zealand!

Not your run of the mill choices but hey who ever said that being run of the mill is interesting?  

Why not have a go yourself and share your choices. You can find all the competition details HERE
and whilst you are there check out some of Transun's amazing deals and really interesting blog!

I shall see you on a jet plane sometime....

Song for this POST


Saturday, 25 April 2015

Revolution by Russell Brand - Book Review

"I don't have to tell you things are bad. Everybody knows things are bad. It's a depression. Everybody is out of work or scared of losing their job. The dollar buys a nickel's worth, banks are going bust, shopkeepers keep a gun under the counter. Punks are running wild in the street and there's nobody anywhere who seems to know what to do, and there's no end to it. 

We know the air is unfit to breathe and our food is unfit to eat, and we sit watching our TVs while some local newscaster tells us that today we had fifteen homicides and sixty-three violent crimes, as if that's the way it's supposed to be. We know things are bad - worse than bad. They're crazy. 

It's like everything everywhere is going crazy, so we don't go out anymore. We sit in the house, and slowly the world we are living in is getting smaller, and all we say is, 'Please, at least leave us alone in our living rooms. Let me have my toaster and my TV and my steel-belted radials and I won't say anything. Just leave us alone.' Well, I'm not gonna leave you alone. I want you to get mad! I don't want you to protest. I don't want you to riot - I don't want you to write to your congressman because I wouldn't know what to tell you to write. I don't know what to do about the depression and the inflation and the Russians and the crime in the street. All I know is that first you've got to get mad. You've got to say, 'I'm a HUMAN BEING, God damn it! My life has VALUE!' 

So I want you to get up now. I want all of you to get up out of your chairs. I want you to get up right now and go to the window. Open it, and stick your head out, and yell, 'I'M AS MAD AS HELL, AND I'M NOT GOING TO TAKE THIS ANYMORE!' I want you to get up right now, sit up, go to your windows, open them and stick your head out and yell - 'I'm as mad as hell and I'm not going to take this anymore!' Things have got to change. But first, you've gotta get mad!... You've got to say, 'I'm as mad as hell, and I'm not going to take this anymore!' Then we'll figure out what to do about the depression and the inflation and the oil crisis. But first get up out of your chairs, open the window, stick your head out, and yell, and say it: 

"I'M AS MAD AS HELL, AND I'M NOT GOING TO TAKE THIS ANYMORE!"
                                                                                               -Howard Beale 'Network' 1976




Hard to believe that was written almost 40 years ago isn't it? I could have written that this morning and it would have been timely and just as accurate.

I bought Revolution ages ago but with the impending Zombie apocalypse; I thought I was best off equipping myself like some Dorset equivalent to Linda Hamilton in Terminator and read any rancid, viral, infected pages that fell into my lap first!

BUT as it is of course election day in 11 days the book was calling me from my pile of unread goodness and Thursday I started to read.... today it is complete.




If like me you are a fan of Mr Brand then you can hear him narrating as you turn the pages, the Dickensian-Essex twang exuding from each paragraph. This however is not your average stand -up/personality/celeb biography or crappy attempt at fiction, nope this is a throw open your window and shout I'm NOT going to take this anymore!" at Mrs Parsons whilst she's hanging out her husbands rather yellowy Y fronts on her line - type of book, and a rather bloody good book it is to!

I started reading it Thursday in the sunshine, sat outside a hospital whilst waiting for a friend to have a procedure, I intended to read for 10 minutes until the cafe opened but an hour later I realised I was late getting back to her, so I had to swiftly leave my sun-soaked corner of grass, probably much to the relief of the BT men who must have wondered from where I had escaped as I sat laughing sporadically at the written hilarity on my lap.

I then continued and finished it in bed last night. It really is a book I feel about contentment - something I have always had an issue with (grass is always greener and all that) attainment and peace; with yourself and your immediate environment. About community, friendship, belonging and faith. Yes! I was quite shocked in a positive way to read that Russell admits to believing in God.
I believe in God too, I don't know WHAT God, he doesn't have a beard or sit on a cloud but I do believe in something... I believe there is more, more than this crap we are putting up with.

So with the BIG ONE looming... It is a very important election, one I feel could have been made more interesting had there been somebody....anybody...... Bueller.... with Clout! Gumption! Charisma! Somebody with a realistic view on life as it is, not Etonian boys club elitism that we get all the time.
Somebody that will ANSWER a question, not bypass it or ignore it or answer it with well documented spin...
BUT there isn't anybody...

RIP Lord Sutch

Russell..I know you want us to vote 'None of the above' but damn it you should have run for election, I'd vote for you...but then I can't resist a man in tight black jeans and a white shirt...

Sorry totally off topic!

If you want to laugh, want to think (and BOY! this book makes you think) or you just want to know how to handle a Buddhist at an airport - then grab a copy of this book. It isn't going to cause riots on the streets or change the political landscape but it does have the power to make you want to change - maybe yourself or maybe something bigger and as a collective voice we all then get the power. I don't agree with not using your vote as so many nations do not have that freedom. I do however agree with voting wisely - this year more than ever.

I would like to see this book on reading lists in schools, but I would also like to see more about the Suffragette movement taught too! See 2 days in the company of Mr Brand and I'm Education Minister.... !

Viva la Revolucion!


“I sincerely believe that banking establishments are more dangerous than standing armies, and that the principle of spending money to be paid by posterity, under the name of funding, is but swindling futurity on a large scale.” 

                                                                                       - Thomas Jefferson 1816

Song for this POST

Friday, 10 April 2015

Book Review - The Girl in 6E

The Girl in 6E (Deanna Madden #1) by A.R Torre

I am not into spoilers so don't worry if you haven't read this book yet, I won't be giving anything away!

I won this book along with loads more from Orion books on Instagram for a 'Anti-Valentines' competition; Anti-love, murder, mayhem .... just say books with BITE!



I entered the comp because the cover of this book and the title sparked something, if you read you know what I mean!
I briefly read the puff on the back and didn't really take it in so I wasn't really aware what the story basis was.

There have been a wave in recent years where the female lead characters seem to really annoy me (probably more in the film adaptions than the actual books) they are insipid and dull, even though they can fight and/or are supposedly strong they almost seem catatonic when it comes to speaking out or faced with a hot male story counterpart! (I'm thinking Bella or Katniss) This girl is exactly the opposite, she is interesting, opinionated and has more issues than National Geographic!

The story revolves around the female character; Deanna Madden; and what she does in her apartment and more importantly why she is imposing this self inflicted imprisonment to the point of almost orchestrated agoraphobia!
Not wanting to mix with any other living person it demonstrates how hard it really is to avoid all human contact which causes untold turmoil for all those involved.

The book is so well written, very fresh and very relevant in today's world.

The chapters dedicate themselves to different characters' perspectives of the situation that is evolving and it works really well.

The last 3 chapters just started me wanting the next book and for the lead to come back as some type of twisted, vengeful superhero - she is NOT your run of the mill caped crusader that is for sure!

I didn't read 50 Shades - well actually I read 4 pages in Rock n Roll Mum's toilet where she had confiscated it in case they ran out of toilet tissue I presume! It was awful, if I am not grabbed in those first few pages it is VERY rare I ever try again.
I also know there is far better written erotic fiction FREE on the net so you really didn't have to buy into the hype.
This book delves into the world of camming and the role it plays in today's society for good or bad, and it really makes you think.
If you are shocked by explicit content this book may not be for you but it is necessary to the story, well written and in context - so you can get over that to enjoy the story as a whole!

I loved it, and was thrilled to see the ad in the back for the next book due out July this year.

A R Torre is brilliant!

Tuesday, 7 April 2015

How Would My Garden Grow ....

......with a Debenhams' Garden Party!

I love gardening, which helps seeing as I have a huge garden. I was born and raised here, I pulled carrots with my Dad on warm summer Sunday mornings, ate ripe strawberries straight from the plant, had plenty of water fights, dens and tent making holidays within these hedges and in later years sunbathing on my tin foil bed, covered in Ambre Solaire oil (factor 0-2) most often resembling this:



So now it is my turn to reinvent this garden and last year I spent spring doing the front garden, digging up an old lawn, 70 year old pampas grass and digging in borders. I watched YouTube videos on how to lay turf and then did it! I planted purple and blue flowers all along the pathways and paved a hard standing for all the recycling bins! It was a long task but looks great now and I am really happy with it....
Now for the other 5 BIGGER areas!

So my next project and this Spring/Summer task is to make my magical garden.

I am turning this:






into a garden fit for these:



So it needs to be special and have a wonderful fairy/Hobbit/Magical feel!

Debenhams have set an Easter challenge to bloggers to come up with a mood board that incorporates at least 5 favourite pieces from their Garden range.

So here is my board, I am keeping up with my theme of magic by incorporating butterflies and earthy, magical shapes like the Apple from Snow White being the beautiful day bed or the Golden egg being represented by the hanging chair... well at least that is how I HOPE it comes across!






Clockwise from left

Set of four pink beaded flower coasters

Debenhams Taupe and cream 'Elizabeth' 2.7m parasol

La Hacienda Garden mirror

Debenhams Brown hanging chair

Butterfly Home by Matthew Williamson - Designer plastic pink tumbler

Designer medium purple butterfly wall decoration

Grey Outdoor Cfl Illuminated Decorative Ball Light

Debenhams Brown 'LA Apple' outdoor daybed

Debenhams Brown 'LA Rio' corner unit

Landmann Moon and stars firepit

So there it is my magical mood board complete with Cauldron and Magic Mirror!

The last piece which I am giving a special mention to is the cushion by designer Laura Oakes who is visually just SO exciting!
It gives such great colour so I would have to have loads of her cushions all over!

So why not have a go yourself or if I have made you feel inspired nip on over to http://www.debenhams.com/ and have a wander around, the famous Blue Cross sale is on so you can save loads too!

This is my entry for the Easter Blogger competition win a garden party set worth 1500!

Song for this post : HERE


Tuesday, 3 March 2015

A Mum in Print - Truprint Mothers Day Gifts #millionmumssmile

Mothers Day is looming and even though I look forward to spending the day with my son Evan, it also leaves me saddened that I no longer have my Mum to celebrate with.

This year will see the second Mothers Day since she passed but for me this year will be the first that I truly realise she is gone as last year it was still so fresh and went by so fast that it didn't really resonate.



So this year I was intrigued by a request for bloggers to get involved with Truprint to do something different to celebrate and I was thrilled to be chosen to take part.
I had an idea as a sort of grieving process for myself but also to help Evan as he is still very troubled by Mum's death.

I want to celebrate HER as a Mum, sister, nanny, and friend so I have designed a book as a surprise gift for Evan to keep forever.

I have called it : About a Mother, For a Son, From a Mum.... and it documents my Mums life from her birth in East London to her evacuation to Dorset in 1939 and her subsequent life, marriage, having us girls and ending with a picture of the three of us.

It has been therapeutic and quite beautiful going through hundreds of photographs that my Mum had taken and collected (and I do mean HUNDREDS) so much so that I feel slightly better in myself after doing this.

So ... Truprint.




This year Truprint are hosting the fantastic Mum in a Million campaign, where Truprint would like to make a million mums smile by giving away 1 million personalised Mother's Day cards. My readers can use the code MUMINAMILLION at the checkout to claim your card**

They offer lots of different ways to turn your precious prints into gifts, varying from canvases to books to photo 3D animated gifts and mugs to name a few!
I obviously went for a book and it really cannot be easier.




The system is so easy to use and the interface amazingly helpful. You choose the layout that best suits your imagined design and then upload your photos, from there it is drag and drop and you can add text at any point.
I found that manipulating size and position incredibly easy and guidelines pop up to help you keep everything aligned, which I found awesome!




You can now also upload direct from your Facebook albums which is so helpful so no more having to download to upload which is VERY helpful!

Colours and themes are numerous and you can find so many to suit any celebration. Just for Mothers Day there is an enormous selection for you to choose from so you can play around with so many designs it is amazing.

I have added photos of the design process as this is the first of two posts; the next being when I receive my order.

So please head on over and have a look at the wonderful selection on offer. Don't forget to order your FREE card!

Mothers Day may turn out to be a happier day this year as memories can always be captured...

Song for this POST



**T&C's for the card offer:

  • Awards one free 7x5 folded card
  • Standard P&P charges apply (99p)
  • Ship to recipient not available
  • Complete with envelope
  • Code is One time use only
  • Strictly one code use per household.

This is a sponsored post - I was not paid to review but I was given a voucher to try the service, the review is my honest opinion.