Saturday, 27 December 2014

Lessons in Life #1 - Don't laugh at a funeral

Recently I learnt a very important lesson, and that is, that it's highly inappropriate to laugh at a funeral. It's not my fault - honest ( it never is )!

I totally blame a good friend of mine, not mentioning names, but they know who they are, and also the inventor of the auto correct predictive text.

It all started when my good friend hurt themselves so being the kind caring person I am I suggested that they put a bag of dozen peas on their injury to calm the swelling, yes you read that right, this time I did intentionally put that, but at the time I meant frozen peas.
Obviously they wanted to know what good 12 peas would do, I have no idea, I am not medically or botanically trained but I do know laughter is the best medicine, and thus the day was then spent with pea related jokes being passed back and forth.

The next day I sadly had to attend a funeral. It was a lovely ceremony, the Reverend made things light hearted telling stories about the deceased which was all fine and dandy, unfortunately he had a bit of an accent, so some of his words where slightly mispronounced and misinterpreted. Things were going so well until near the end, when he wished peas on earth and peas be with you. At this point my mother and I burst into tears and started shaking uncontrollably, no not with grief, but with laughter. My dad shot us both a look and we just sat there feeling like 2 naughty school children waiting for assembly to be over !

All I can say is that I am glad there was no mention of a potato - but that's a whole different story!!

Wednesday, 24 December 2014

Single At Christmas - Bah Humbug!

Normally I love Christmas, but I feel a little different about it this year. Why? well I separated from my husband 4 months ago so this year is my first Christmas on my own in over 13 years, yes I'll have family around on Christmas Day and will spend it being surrounded by people who love me, but I have a feeling that I'm still going to feel so lonely.

The culmination of this years events have led me to spend today crying my heart out, and to make things worse, my favourite Christmas songs just seem to be rubbing my face in it. So let's analyse them shall we?

Mud says - Try to imagine a house that's not  a home,
Try to imagine a Christmas all alone
Well mate - My house is slowly falling apart so it's not technically a home at the moment, and I don't need to imagine a Christmas all alone, because I'm having one!

Mr Noddy Holder of Slade asks - Are you hanging up a stocking on your wall?
Hell no!!!! - Don't you know it's taken me the best of part of 8 months to sodding well decorate my living room, I'll be damned if I'm putting pin holes into my nice new wallpaper!

Wizard wishes it could be Christmas everyday! - Pass me the anti depressants now, it's made me feel a little bit sad and lonely this year so I couldn't cope with having Christmas every day.

Darlene Love sang - Nobody ought to be all alone on Christmas, well it looks like I'm a big fat nobody* then, because hey guess what - I am alone this Christmas!

Shakin' Stevens said - Time for parties and celebrations
People dancing all night long
Time for presents
and exchanging kisses
Time for singing Christmas songs
Well sorry Shakey - I'm not in the mood to party, and there's nothing much to celebrate, as for presents and exchanging kisses, it'll probably just be a case of exchanging presents in the Boxing Day sales and actually getting something I really want for Christmas!

Michael Bolton sings Have yourself a merry Little Christmas - why don't you feck off?

He then makes another appearance on my playlist saying -
You better watch out
You better not cry
You better not pout
I'm telling you why - go on then, tell me why I shouldn't cry, I can if I bloody well want to. Like I said earlier, why don't you just feck off!

I think The Pogues sum things up perfectly - You scumbag you maggot, you cheap lousy faggot, happy your arse I pray God it's our last!**

I could go on and on and on and on, there's about 100 songs on my playlist but I think you kind of get the idea about just how a first Christmas alone can make people feel. Despite my current mood, I do wish all my readers a very Merry Christmas, and would encourage you to drop an old friend or family member an email, text or message, just to let them know they are thought about at this time of year.

* I would like to state that I am not a big fat nobody owing to the fact I lost a lot of weight this year!!
** I would like to point out that it is an amicable split, and he wasn't  a scumbag, maggot or faggot!

Friday, 28 November 2014

A little moan about weight loss

Firstly I am very proud of myself let me make that bit clear, I have recently lost 2 stone in weight and feel a hell of a lot better about myself, I've turned into a little bit of a fitness freak and spend most weekends "running"* a good 10 miles at a time, something that I never envisioned doing when I was a fat chubster at school, choosing to avoid PE at all costs in exchange for a walk to the local bakery for pies, butties and cakes ( mmmm cake ) for my dinner.

However, when I was heavier, I had a cracking set of boobs, and plenty of junk in my trunk, so my moan is all about losing my assets.

Firstly where have my tits gone? My once pretty underwear used to show them off to their full potential and now my bras are half empty with saggy boobs cowering away in them. Yes I know I can buy new underwear but that's not the point. I hadn't long bought new matching bra and knickers and by god I want to get my monies worth out them.
Then there's my arse, or rather, there isn't my arse, it's gone, my jeans just hang off the bottom of my back, only held in place with a worn out belt with so many added notches to it I'm surprised it can still call itself a belt! And don't get me started on the rest of my wardrobe. Nothing fits right, jumpers are too baggy, dresses drown me, even my shoes are too bloody big,

The added irony is that I still have a bit more to lose, so what's a girl to do? Until I have achieved my goal - I could just spend my day living in onesies right???

I don't mind wearing them at night to keep warm, or even during the day when it's fancy dress, but I don't think even I'm mad enough to wear them just for the fun of it**

So I guess I'm just going to have to behave myself and hope that Santa brings me a new wardrobe for Xmas, though if all else fails, I'm sure the amount of food consumed on Christmas Day will make at least one item of clothing fit again!

*I run until I get injured which happens quite often, then I shuffle along at a quickened pace until I cave in and walk the rest of the way!

**well maybe just a little bit!

Thursday, 13 November 2014

Little Miss Muffet - alternative verses for kids!

So Squiggle came home today singing Little Miss Muffet, and of course he asked what curds and whey were, being the very intelligent mother that I am, I told him it was something to do with cheese. After a quick look on t'internet I found out that it was similar to cottage cheese.
Squiggle asked why didn't the song just say she was eating cheese. I said then it wouldn't rhyme.

Cue a long list of different versions of Little Miss Muffet. These had Squiggle in stitches and I'd like to share them with you!

Little Miss Muffet, sat on her tuffet
eating a bowl of cheese,
Along came a spider and sat down beside her
and started to tickle her knees!

Little Miss Muffet, sat on her tuffet
eating a loaf of bread,
Along came a spider he crawled up beside her
and started to dance on her head!

Little Miss Muffet, sat on her tuffet
eating something yum,
Along came a spider and sat down beside her
and started to pinch her bum!

Little Miss Muffet, sat on her tuffet
eating a piece of toast,
Along came a spider and sat down beside her
and said eurgh you've got a bogey up your nose!

Little Miss Muffet, sat on her tuffet
eating a bowl of jelly,
Along came a spider and sat down beside her
and said goodness gracious me, you've got a big belly!

Little Miss Muffet, sat on her tuffet
eating a joint of meat
Along came a spider and sat down beside her
and said phew, you've got smelly feet!

*Thanks to for the images

Wednesday, 22 October 2014

Just a quick update!

Hello to all my friendly readers,

As you may have noticed my posts have been a tiny bit sporadic over the course of the past 2 months. I have been dealing with a few issues in my personal life which I'm not ready to discuss at the moment but may do at a later point in time.

So rather than dwell on the issues I'm going to focus on the positives in my life at the moment.

1. Squiggle has settled into primary school now and despite the initial teething problems, he is turning out to be a well educated and polite young man.

2. Since the beginning of August, I have lost 27lbs in weight and am still running every chance I get - this is a vast difference from the girl who used to shun P.E. at school!!

3. I am finally getting my garden landscaped, new fence, new patio and new gates, and although it's coming up to Winter, I cannot wait to sit out there and enjoy the view with a glass of wine!

4. I started to decorate the living room in March, by decorate I mean strip the walls, well I have now lined the walls and am ready to start wallpapering, so I might be ready for Xmas!

5. Last week I finally got the golden ticket in TV audience recordings - yes, I got to go and see A Question of Sport being recorded, I was sat supporting Tuffers team, sadly not behind him so not sure if I will make the edited episode but it was great fun to watch, took just over 2 hours to record with no retakes!

How are you all doing?

Thursday, 25 September 2014

Tips for applying for primary school

After my considerable mess up with getting Squiggle into a primary school, I thought I would share my experience and give other parents tips to help them stand a better chance of getting into a school of their choice.

By law, children must be in school from the first term after their fifth birthday, but the majority of schools take children who turn five in the school year to start in September when they are still four.
Different counties may open their applications on different days, so check your local council website for information, but for all primary school applications the closing date is 15 th January.

The admission criteria for each school is different but some schools give preference to those;
  • who have a brother or sister at the school already
  • who live close to the school
  • from a particular religion (for faith schools)
  • who do well in an entrance exam (for selective schools, eg grammar schools or stage schools)
  • in care or being looked after (all schools must have this as a top priority)
So my words of wisdom are:

Apply on time, I cannot stress the importance of this. Many schools will not consider late applications at all. So check your local county government website for application dates. Some councils advertise in the local press or at libraries,  and good nurseries may give you the information, I missed the deadline because I was in hospital at the time, and even this couldn't be taken into consideration.

If you wish for your child to attend a faith school, such as Church of England or Roman Catholic, you must make sure you attend church on a regular basis, most will accept a minimum attendance of once a month. It is the parents who have to attend, not the child. Also Roman Catholic schools give preference to Catholic baptised children over Church of England christened children.

Put your child's name down on the waiting list, this doesn't mean they will be given any preference over any other child, but it shows that you are interested in your child attending that school. If any children decline their places then the schools will use the waiting list to offer out spare places. This is what finally got my son a place at the school we wanted.

If you don't get the place you initially wanted then you can always appeal. An independent panel will hear your case and decide if there are grounds for appeal such as a incorrect procedure being followed and make a decision for you.

Try not to despair, remember there are 20 weeks between receiving your place offer and the first day of school. Things can change during that time and even for a short time afterwards. The schools waiting lists don't tend to get disbanded until the Christmas holidays so there is always a chance that pupils will leave school and move around as their parents do.

I am happy to report that despite my cock up, Squiggle did eventually get into a different school of choice, and is currently loving every minute of it.

Saturday, 30 August 2014

Uh oh, they're at it again!! ( A.K.A Kids say the funniest things part 4 )

The more I share my funny stories with friends the more I get told about their children, so here is a little collection of anecdotes from friends, feel free to add your own funny stories in the comment box and they might make the next edition!!!

Firstly Squiggle has been using his initiative. We went out the other day and had set off down the street. When we got to the bottom of the hill he asked if the big building with lots of windows was a hotel. I told him it was an old peoples home and explained that when people got old and needed looking after they would sometimes move to an old peoples home. "Hmmm" said Squiggle his mind clearly thinking about this, "Shouldn't daddy live there now - he's old"!!!!

Last month Squiggle had gone shopping with my auntie and grandma, whilst at the checkout he exclaimed that he needed the toilet and set off. My grandma followed him and saw him talking to a member of staff at the toilet door. What are you doing? they asked - "Going to the toilet" he replied. "Where's your daddy?" - "He's at work", "Where's your mummy?" - "Oh she's at home in bed!!!" - Please bear in mind this was at dinner time, and believe me I was up - honestly!!!

Next a friend of mine was telling me about how her 4 year daughter had caught sight of her in the bath and had innocently asked "Mummy why do your boobies point down and mine point up? will mine go like that when I'm older?"

Thanks to Kelly for this one.
Evie says the funniest things. Latest is that as you know she's a little blondie and I have dark hair, I said to her that when she gets older she may well go dark and look more like me to which she replied 'I'm not being racist but I really don't like dark hair, I'm staying blonde'  She once said 'Mom you know those people who don't eat meat, what are they called, lesbitarions? Well I'm not one of them as I like chicken nuggets' I couldn't stop laughing xxx

Thanks to Nancy for this one
My son Aaron told me that the titanic was sunk by an ice cube and he also says he is handbdextrous not ambidextrous ( as in both handed).

Thanks to Josie for this one
Molly said to me on way to playgroup on Friday in the car grandma look I've got 4 fingers up I said I can't look I'm driving I've got to keep my eyes on the road, she said grandma your eyes don't go on the road they stay in your head you mean you have to look at the road!! Well that put me straight didn't it!

Kerrie over at Wife Mum Student Bum had this to say:
Alice (2) said yesterday "Mummy you have a big tummy don't you...have you got a baby in there?" Cheeky bugger x

Emma at Emma's Little World
We were in Devon last week on holiday on and went crabbing. When we got one Ben put it into the bucket and said, he jumped in quickly cos he thought it was the proper sea!! And it wasn't the proper sea, it was my sea in the bucket!!

Thanks to Tim for this one:
On a drive to our local Tesco and whilst stuck behind an elderly couple... I may have muttered something along the lines of "bloody old people, get a move on". During the same trip to Tesco, whilst doing our shop. A lovely elderly couple were cooing over the boys, when our Callum chirps up with the line "bloody old people, get a move on". I nearly dropped through the floor with embarrassment.

Thanks to everybody for their input, please feel free to add your own stories via the comment box, on my Facebook page or email me. I look forward to hearing what your little one's have been saying!

Thursday, 21 August 2014

Eureka! & Little Live Pets

We were invited to the children's museum Eureka! in Halifax on Saturday to be part of the launch of the Little Live Pets.

Little Live Pets come in a range of beautiful butterflies and birds and there are 6 of each to collect. When stroked, the birds chirp and tweet, plus they have a record feature which allows you to record yourself for about 10 seconds and they will repeat and mimic you. The butterflies are quite lifelike and will sit in the palm of your hand fluttering their wings.

The Little Live Birds are £9.99 RRP on their own or you can buy a birdcage for £19.99 which includes a special edition bird. The Little Live Butterflies are £12.99 on their own or £22.99 for a butterfly house, again with a special edition butterfly included.

All the children at Eureka! were quite taken with both the birds and the butterflies, but Squiggle and I really loved the budgies, the green one in particular reminded me of Joey, my budgie, when I was younger. Squiggle thought they were just ace, and best of all they won't make a mess in the house ( or be looked at like dinner by the cat!! )

Afterwards we were allowed to explore Eureka!, despite it having been open for the last 22 years, I have never been, what have I missed out on. I turned into a child myself and ran around and interacted with Squiggle and the other kids. I thought it was ace!

Part of the museum is set out like a town, with a bank, a shop, a post office and a garage with petrol station and workshop.

Our first port of call was of course to the bank, where we quickly printed our own Eureka! money to play with and attempt to bypass the security system and break into the vault!

Ever wanted to sit on £1,000,000

Then with our ill gotten gains we went and played in the shop. Squiggle decided that he was going to charge £9999 for a loaf of bread and milk, despite what the till said. I think he will go far in economics when he is older!

Next we popped into the garage and helped to fill a car up with petrol. There is a replica petrol pump which the children can put into the car and the dial goes up as thought hey are filling it. I was quite impressed that petrol was only 50p a litre and will be taking my car there in the future! There was also a nice bed of tyres, for those "tyred and exhausted parents" to take a quick nap on!!

Finally we called in at the post office and Squiggle tried his hand at being a postman, delivering parcels and letters to the various doors. Even though his uniform drowned him I think he quite suits it!

After the town, we moved into the house and went through all the rooms, the kitchen, the living room, the bedrooms and the bathroom and learnt how things work. Squiggle loved the bathroom and spent ages switching the shower on and off and flushing the see through toilet, just to watch it fill up and flush it again!

Upstairs in the museum is the 'All About Me' area where we learnt about the human body. Before we began our journey we picked up a passport and then took part in various activities to learn more about Squiggle. We measured how tall he was, how far he could stretch, how far his stride was, how much he weighed and a lot more. It's a good idea because if you have the Eureka annual pass you can compare just how fast your child is growing up between each visit.

We finished the day by visiting the Soundspace area and spent a lot of time making a lot of noise!

Eureka! is aimed at children 0-11, the ticket prices are FREE for under 1's, £4.25 for children aged 1-2 and£11.95 for everybody else, but if you take your ticket to the annual pass booth you can upgrade to an annual pass and return as many times as you want for the rest of the year.

I'd like to thank Little Live Pets and Eureka! for inviting us to a great day out.

*Disclaimer: I was invited to the Little Live Pets launch and received free entry to Eureka! for the purpose of writing this post, but all views, opinions and photos are my own.

Saturday, 16 August 2014

Innuendo Bingo or Cake, Anyone?

I've taken to having the odd dabble at bingo on a Tuesday night, but alas my luck hasn't turned up to win me a cash prize. However today I have won giggles and embarrassment whilst unwittingly playing innuendo bingo. A friend hinted she would like a cake for her birthday, she had seen a minion from Despicable me, dressed in pink dungarees and a tutu, so I said I wouldn't mind having a go at making it for her.

This is what she wants! - I have not made this.

My first problem was I needed a small tin, so whilst looking for a cake tin, I was offered an 8 inch but said I would be happy with just a 4 inch, cue stunned silence followed by sudden realisation of what was said.


I did manage to find a small enough cake tin but was worried that she would be disappointed as it wouldn't be as grand as the one she'd seen, so I was about to text my friend and ask if she would be happy with a 6" 1 eyed minion, but had to stop myself because the tears had started to roll down my face!

This was all done before teatime, and without the influence of alcohol, who knows what I'm going to be like later!!!

Monday, 11 August 2014

Last visit to the Dermatology

Back on the 22nd April, I started my daily treatment for my psoriasis, here's my first post with some not so nice looking pictures.

I was going 5 times a week, Monday - Friday, having ointment every day and UVB light therapy every other day. Over the initial weeks the ointment did its job and by the middle of June I was just visiting for my light treatment.

Today was my last visit for light treatment, I was allowed between 24 & 30 sessions, so with having holidays and missing a few sessions I opted for the maximum allowed. I am glad to report that my arms and body are now clear and I feel so much more confident in myself. I've been wearing short sleeve tops, shorts and dresses. Granted my legs are not 100% but they are a damn sight better than they were, so I'm not so bothered about showing them off. I've also gained a bit of a tan from the "industrial sunbed" so I now have a healthy glow about me.

Even my scar looks better
It's like having a new pair of legs!

I'm never going to be cured of psoriasis because there just isn't a cure for it, all I can do is try to keep it at bay, unfortunately stress is a major factor with psoriasis as is cold weather and lack of sunlight, which is why during the winter my skin does take a turn for the worse. I'm not being pessimistic when I say I have little doubt in my mind that in 12 months time I could be writing about my next course of hospital treatment, I've had this condition since I was about 6 years old, had numerous hospital visits for treatment and every year just before Summer I am covered head to toe.

The only time I was truly clear was when I was pregnant, which is why I can't understand why I wasn't worse, pregnancy is certainly stressful on the body! Anyway I am clear for now and I am going to try and make the most of whatever good weather we have left to come and get outside, I wasn't really allowed out whilst having light treatment in case it all burnt my skin. And quite typically, I finish my treatment and Britain gets hit with the back end of a hurricane!

So do any of you suffer from psoriasis, what makes it worse? what calms it down? Please get in touch.

Tuesday, 5 August 2014

Fitness Bands For Kids?

I was watching The Wright Stuff this morning, when they had a discussion about the Leapfrog Leap Band which has been designed for 4-11 years to keep them active and reduce childhood obesity.

I was quite surprised to learn that such a product was needed, I've heard that childhood obesity is on the increase but I don't really know any overweight children. None of Squiggle's friends are 'fat', there were no overweight kids at nursery and I can't say that I saw any whilst we were out visiting primary schools.
Squiggle is very active and very rarely sits down to watch TV. He is always on the go, in fact I tweeted The Wright Stuff to tell them I need a band to tell him to sit and have a rest every now and then.
I got my tweet read out!

Click here to watch!

Despite my initial negative thoughts about it, it would be quite interesting to see exactly how much energy my son expends in a day and compare it to me.
I am a self confessed couch potato who has the odd random moments of mad exercise, but where as Squiggle is happy to run and play all day I am more than happy to just sit down and watch him! I haven't passed on my bad habits to him but will he start to pick up on this as he gets older?

What do you think? Do kids need motivating to exercise? or should we just leave them to enjoy being a child? Let me know your views.

I Just Smiled Politely, Paid & Left! ( A.K.A kids say the funniest things part 3 )

I've had a couple of moments over the past week when I've just wished the ground would open up and swallow me, all courtesy of my darling son.

First we went to put petrol in the car at the supermarket in town. I filled the car up and took Squiggle inside to pay where he took one look at the lady serving and shouted at her - "Why are you sad? Why don't you smile? Why you not happy?"  I just wanted the ground to open up and swallow me but instead I just smiled politely, paid and left. I'm not mentioning which supermarket it is, but they have a reputation around here for having slow and miserable staff. I hope she smiles next time.

Next we went into a shop in town. The person behind us in the queue was a cross dresser. Squiggle took one look and asked " Why are you wearing a dress?, Are you a man or a girl? Do you have a tail? ( willy )" I just wanted the ground to open up and swallow, but instead I just smiled politely, paid and left!

Finally we were in the toilets in the shopping centre, having to share a cubicle as I didn't want him wandering off, and unfortunately it was that time of the month, Squiggle caught sight of my knickers as I was taking a pee, "Mummy, why you got a nappy? are you a baby? I'm not a baby I'm a big boy, You wear nappies, you wear nappies" well yes you've guessed it, I just wanted the ground to open up and swallow me, but instead I flushed, smiled politely at the strangers queuing, washed my hands and left!

Monday, 4 August 2014

Meal Planning Monday - 4th August 2014

So we're in the midst of the school holidays and the meal planning is hit and miss, will we be in for tea or will we be on a day out somewhere? Truth is, I don't really know until we wake up.

So this post is a bit of a willy nilly post, I'm not going to set a determined menu this week, I'll just tell you what the aim is and we shall have to see what we do actually eat and on what day!

So in the fridge and freezer for this week, I have:

lamb steaks
peppered beef grill steaks ( posh burgers )
bits to make a lasagne - mince, pasta sheets & sauce
egg and chips - haven't had this for ages
pulled pork - I bought some from Tesco a few weeks ago and just got round to eating it last week and it was amazing.

I served it in warm pita bread along with a side salad and a few chips, it certainly got the thumbs up from everybody in the Homer house!

I've no food plans for the weekend as we are going out, so might treat ourselves to a pub tea. We're off to Kettlewell Scarecrow Festival on Sunday. It's a great day out, all the village takes part and they all put up scarecrows. There's a trail to follow along with a little quiz and prizes every day for adults and children.

Have you ever been? Or do you have a Scarecrow Festival near you? If so let me know, I'd like to go to other Scarecrow Festivals.

Saturday, 2 August 2014

Dinosaur Tourettes

I left the other half to look after Squiggle today, when I returned he was in a bemused state, I asked what was wrong. He said Squiggle had been playing out, stomping, roaring and saying "I'm dinosaur tourettes!"

 I had to point out that he meant dinosaur T-Rex!

Friday, 1 August 2014

Thank you to a not so stranger.

Up until 4 years ago, I was fat, I was fat and happy, I was fat, happy and had a bubbly personality. I stood tall, stuck my boobs out, sucked my stomach in ( as best I could ) and walked with an air of confidence about me.
I was half the woman I used to be!
Then I became pregnant, had a traumatic birth, contracted pancreatitis, lost over 10 stone in weight, became a walking skeleton and lost all my hair. That confident girl disappeared and in return I was left a shy, quiet and miserable shadow. I couldn't walk tall, in fact it hurt to hold my head up, my body was so weak it couldn't support my head, so I walked huddled over like a little old lady, not daring to look anybody in the eye.

I became jealous of my friends perfect bodies, well they were perfect in my eyes, they didn't bare the scars I had, their tummies looked normal, they could leave the house and go and do and eat whatever they wanted without fear of being ill in public.

Slowly but surely I got a little bit better, my hair started to grow back, I gained weight and was able to walk a little taller. I started wearing make-up again, although I still have the scars I learnt to dress myself in ways that hid my imperfections, my personality slowly made a comeback and although that daft grin of mine reappeared it still masked so many sad feelings. I no longer felt attractive, and no amount of make-up was ever going to change that.

My husband has never once said I looked pretty or nice, not even on our wedding day, well earlier this year I attended a couple of weddings, and made the effort to look nice, bought a new dress and yet still got nothing from him. However, I did get quite a few compliments from my family and other people, some of the  people were strangers to me but knew of me through my mum and grandma, but there was that one compliment from someone who I only really knew in passing to say hello to and hadn't spoken to much before now, but for whatever reason, they were the one who made me blush and made my day and slowly made me realise that I have come such a long way and it's nice to know that somebody out there thinks I am pretty good looking.

So I'd like to take this moment to thank that person, ever since that day I've walked a little taller, had a little more spring in my step, and smiled a little brighter. I've started to socialise a lot more with friends and I've even made some new friends. My outlook on life is now a lot more positive than it was

Monday, 28 July 2014


 A couple of weeks ago I was invited to the Matalan head office in Skelmersdale for a blogging event to see their range of school uniforms and also get a sneaky peak at the new Autumn/Winter range for children. It was my first opportunity to go to a blogging event so I jumped at the chance.

As I pulled into the car park I met another blogger - Emma and we headed off to sign in.

I was excited and nervous, and had been worried about what to wear as most of my wardrobe is Matalan and I didn't want to end up wearing the same as somebody else, so I'd opted for a non Matalan dress. I needn't have worried about turning up wearing the same as someone else, as Leanne who was hosting the day ended up wearing the same as one of the buyers. She explained it was common in their office for more than one of the girls to end up wearing the same thing and that on some days it just looked like they were wearing a uniform!

We were shown into a room where the school uniform and new range were laid out for us to look at.

perfect for weddings

so cute!

Love the teddy top
We were invited to look at the new range and give our feedback on it. We were asked to pick our favourite and least favourite items from each of the age ranges and give our reasons for choosing those items.
I found it hard to choose from the girls ranges because I haven't got a girl and was slightly disappointed that the young boys range only stops at year 5, and the older children's range is a bit grown up for him. As I have said before in another post I would love stores to cater for taller children, Squiggle is only 4 and a half but has been wearing size 5-6 years since March.

Once everybody had had the chance to scrutinise the clothes we were split into groups and taken off to give our opinion on the Matalan brand and on the new lines of clothes. We were asked to be honest and give negative as well as positive feedback, and offer any advice to make shopping better at Matalan.

After dinner we received a talk from the buyers who explained the process from designing the clothes to making and testing them before they were ready to be signed off for mass production. The buyers explained that the majority of the manufacturing is outsourced but they do make frequent trips and have guidelines in place to make sure that they are being made as ethically as possible. They showed us samples of products that had failed the initial tests and then the amended versions to compare. A lot of testing is done from wear and tear to washing and colour run. If a product fails it will keep going 'back to the drawing board' until it is right.

We were shown some of the amendments that had been made to this years uniforms, such as softer collars and a velcro fastening behind the top button, and also given details of potential design changes for next years range. They are always working 12 months ahead, so are currently planning the 2015/2016 range.

Next we were shown the process of shoe making. I hadn't really considered how shoes were made, I just presumed they would be mass produced by machine so it came as a bit of a surprise to learn that each one is hand made.

Then we talked through the ideas and gathering information process and shown the ideas boards that were used for the new Autumn/Winter collection. These were created 12 months ago. So Matalan is working on next years various collections.

Before leaving we were all given a goody bag and some vouchers to purchase our school uniform, so I will be writing about that at a later date.

*Disclaimer, I was invited to Matalan Head Office to view the new collection and school uniform, I was given vouchers and a goodie bag for the purpose of this and my next review. However all pictures, words and opinions are my own.

Thursday, 24 July 2014

Our trip to Cadbury World ( part 2 )

Following on from part one.......

We joined the queue and handed over our admission tickets, in return we were given 2 bars of chocolate each, a Wispa and a Caramel.

Then we were transported to the Aztec Jungle and discovered the origin of the cocoa bean, and learnt how the cocoa bean was brought to Europe.

Next we entered a scene from Victorian England of Bull Street, Birmingham, where John Cadbury first set up his shop selling cocoa and drinking chocolate.

And then we went to a small theatre and watched a short film about how the Cadbury's brand was created and how the family experimented with different processes and finally developed the infamous Dairy Milk bar.

Next was a fun film to show how the cocoa beans are processed and turned into liquid chocolate which is the base for all the Cadbury's chocolate bars. There was a particularly funny moment in the film where the beans are shaken to remove the shells, at the same time the seats in the theatre shake so everybody now knows what it's like to be a cocoa bean!

Afterwards we learnt how the various chocolate bars were made before being given a Dairy Milk and viewing the packaging zone. At the time of our visit they were packaging large Fruit and Nut Bars, it all happens so quickly, the chocolate comes in on one conveyor belt and in the blink of an eye it's wrapped and sent along another conveyor belt to another part of the factory.

Jelly babies & popping candy
After the packaging zone came the more fun part of the tour.

First there was Cadabra, a cute ride through chocolate land among all the Cadbury characters. ( It's a little bit like It's a Small World ), then there is my favourite part, the chocolate making area. Here we were all given a small pot of melted chocolate and given the options to add an extra treat to create our own chocolate. Squiggle went with white chocolate buttons, marshmallows and jelly babies, I had popping candy and jelly babies and Mr H had marshmallows and jelly babies.
There was also a viewing area where I was able to watch 2 chocolatiers putting the finishing touches on a hand decorated chocolate teapot.

Freddo & Caramel Bunny
Before the end of the tour there was a trip down memory lane where we could watch various TV adverts from across the years, who could forget the Caramel Bunny and her 'take it easy' catchphrase,  Thank Crunchie it's Friday or Cadbury Roses - Thankyou very much you're one in a million. And the more recent ( although it's now 7 years old ) Gorilla advert drumming along to Phil Collins.

Finally we exited into the biggest Cadbury shop in the world to buy a couple more bars of chocolate. The shop sells everything and more, plus a few special items that cannot be bought anywhere else.

It was a fun day out for all the family.

* We visited Cadbury World and paid for our own tickets. I have not received anything ( yet** ) in return for writing this post. I just wanted to share our day out with you all

** If by any chance Cadbury's read and like my post and wish to send me a box of afore mentioned Wispas as a thankyou then I will gladly devour them!