Grand National Ladies Day at Aintree

It is rare that I get the chance to dress up so creating an outfit for Ladies Day at Aintree was an opportunity that I couldn't miss - even if it was just pretend.  

This Ladies Day infographic offers loads of advice about the history of Ladies Day (did you know it can be traced back to 1711?), general etiquette on the day (don't drink too much champers!) and brilliant fashion do's and don't's (try not to mix a high hemline with a low neckline).


Here is the outfit I created.  What do you think?





I love the brightness of the blue dress and think that the frills and the asymmetrical length are perfect for Ladies Day. The peacock fascinator highlights the blue of the dress is quite unusual. Nude accessories are ideal for showing off the dress but keeping within this season's fashion.  Finally, wedge shoes bridge the gap between needing height from heels and not wanting to sink into any grass.  

Given the opportunity, what would you choose to wear at Ladies Day?  Would you go all flamboyant or stay classy?


Image created using Polyvore:
Blue dress (Spoiled Brat) |  Hair accessory - (Etsy) |  Leather Jacket (Michael Kors - Stylebop |  Wedge shoes (Aeropostale) |  Clutch (John Lewis) | Nail polish (Barneys)



This is a featured post. Please see my disclosure policy for more details.

Soundtrack To My Life - Ange

Soundtrack To My Life
I've really enjoyed pulling Ange's Soundtrack To My Life together - probably because it is full of the music I love too. The internet makes the world a much smaller place and after a chance meeting on one of the social media channels we found out that we both hail from Lancashire and some of Ange's family live in the village where I was born and bred. How's that for random? More about Ange at the end of this blog post but for now, here's here music and memories...


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Queen - Killer Queen

Apart from being an amazing song, when I was a child, we as a family lived in South Wales which was a 4-5 hour journey away from my birthplace in Lancashire. When we visited extended family, or went on any extended car journey, Queen's Greatest Hits was always the album of choice. I can't listen to this song without thinking of my dear departed Dad at the wheel as we all sang along. Happy days.



Soft Cell - Tainted Love

I've been a lifelong Marc Almond fan and this was the song that started my obsession with this much under-rated, highly talented man. I've met Marc on numerous occasions and I can genuinely say he's one of the nicest people I've ever met. We share a wicked, ascorbic sense of humour and he is a fellow Cancerian. I totally "get" him and what he's about and LOVE his music which covers a multitude of styles. Most people will know him from his hits, but he is SO much more than that.

(Editors note: Tainted Love has embedding disabled on YouTube so here's a live version)



Tubeway Army - Are Friends Electric?

Picture the scene; a 10 year old me is watching TOTP and along comes a heavy synth sound and an interesting androidman singing about things I just don't understand. I was hooked! I was an avid Gary Numan fan from that point onwards, although my love for his music waned from 2002 til now when he changed his musical style (although his latest album Splinter has recaptured my interest). I not only went to the concerts but also lucky enough to be invited to the after show parties too. This song was also the choice for the end of Numan discos... everyone would gather in a circle and sing the song a la hokeycokey! It will always be part of my history.



Siouxsie and the Banshees - Happy House

I first heard this played in 1980 on my clock radio. Mike Read was the DJ. Years later I met Mike and told him that he was responsible for introducing me to Siouxsie; "well I've never been accused of that before!" he guffawed... quite. I have a real love of this woman; she's strong and feisty and doesn't suffer fools gladly, bringing them swiftly to account with a well placed word or facial expression. I've had the absolute privilege to meet her twice; once in 1988 and then in 2009. She was completely charming and gracious on both occasions. I love her and her music without reserve.



Depeche Mode - Enjoy the Silence

I love DM and have done since they released "See You" in the early 80's and whilst this isn't my favourite DM song, it is the most memorable. I remember dancing to this with my first husband whilst he uttered the words "all I ever wanted, all I ever needed, is here in my arms". Despite all the crap he put me through when we divorced, this song will always have a special place in my history. I can't hear the words without thinking of the better times we shared.




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Soundtrack To My Life

Find out more about Ange and her writing on her website, her blog and her Facebook page. You can follow her on Twitter too - she's @vodkaangel22.  View all previous Soundtrack To My Life entries by clicking on the mix tape to the right.  If you want to participate in 2014 please complete this form and I'll be in touch very soon.  

[Infographic] Celebrating Same-Sex Marriage

One of my favourite blogs is My Two Mums. When I featured Kirsty's Soundtrack to My Life I said that I loved the way that her and her wife, Clara, blog about their relationship and are very open to questions about parenting in a same-sex relationship.

In March 2014, same-sex marriage was made legal and the first ceremony is due to be held tomorrow (Saturday 29th March) so here is a fabulous infographic from The Cotswold Frock Shop which looks back at some of the moments which got us to this point.



This is a featured post. For more details please see my disclosure policy.

[Infographic] Talking To Mum

When Mum was alive I made a special effort to keep in touch with her regularly because we lived in different towns. A recent study by Sainsburys Mobile found that the average woman will spend the equivalent of two months of her life chatting on the phone to her mum.  You know I love a few good statistics so here's what the research found:

talking to mum on the phone, infographic


Women make an average of three calls a week to their mum with each conversation lasting just over 16 minutes. Incredibly, more than one in ten ring their mum at least once a day (some admit that their conversations last at least half an hour each time they pick up the phone). Poor old dad is treated to just one phone call a week, lasting less than seven minutes a time - that's probably when he picks up the phone, has a quick chat, then passes it to mum...

This study of 2,000 women found that in an average week, they will speak to a friend, relative or work colleague on the phone fourteen times, with each of those conversations lasting almost fifteen minutes each. A further 28 minutes each week is taken up with three calls to their best friend, while almost 25 minutes is spent talking to their husband or partner during two separate phone calls. One weekly call of almost nine minutes is made to their sister, with another seven minutes spent on the phone to their dad. Women also make another four calls a week to their brother, work colleague, children and grandparents lasting between four and five minutes each.  

Researchers also found that the most popular subject was family issues, closely followed by their children, work and health issues.Women also phone their mum to chat about their siblings, what’s on TV, money, shopping, friends and the latest gossip from work. It also emerged that two thirds of women say their mum is the first person they call when they need help or advice. Almost three quarters call their mum before anyone else when they have good or bad news but 80 per cent often just phone their mum for a catch-up with one in ten doing this every day. One in five have a set time or day that they talk to their mum on the phone. Six in ten women even admit there are occasions where they call their mum and end up talking for a long time, despite having seen them face-to-face only hours earlier.

All this just goes to show that in these digital times, we're still keen on using our phones to actually speak to the important people in our lives, especially our Mum.


This is a featured post. For more details please see my disclosure policy.

Filofax Review : Personal Patent Compact in Duckegg Blue

Personal Patent Compact Filofax in Duckegg Blue
Having a spring clean is one of the best things about a new season and reviewing the Personal Patent Compact Filofax has given me the opportunity to review my current system and move sections about so they work better for me.

Straight out of the box and I am absolutely in love with this colour. It is such a fresh spring colour and the minimal pocket space fits in totally with the compact ring size (15mm in diameter). I think a Personal Compact is a great place to start if you're looking for your first Filofax. It is at the cheaper end of the Filofax market and you can play around with just a few sections to see what works for you. 

The organiser doesn't lay completely flat when you first open it but I imagine that, with some daily use, it may do.  This binder has a high gloss leather look PU (a man-made material made to look and feel like leather) and the interior is a combination of PU and colour-matched polyester.  It comes with a variety of inserts that make a great starter kit and are just enough to fill the rings:
  • 1-6 complimentary coloured index (no A-Z section)
  • Week-on-2-pages diary
  • Today frosted page marker 
  • Paper inserts : white/blue/pink/green ruled notepaper
  • Paper inserts : white graph paper
  • Paper inserts : white plain notepaper
  • Paper inserts : contacts pages
Personal Patent Compact FilofaxPersonal Patent Compact Filofax


I've been asked about smell and weight (yes, really). As a comparison, it weighs about the same as my smartphone and Kindle and smells of nothing (well, there's a 'new pages' smell from the inserts if you're into that kind of thing). Sometimes it is easier to see rather than read so I have made a video showing you round the interior of the Personal Compact. I will add an update when I've been using it for a while.  




You can find colours, full specifications, pricing and delivery information on the Filofax website.
Please see my disclosure policy for review items.

My Life In Books

It's 24th March 2014 and I'm updating this post so that I can join in with another of Kate's Listography posts. She's allowed me poetic licence on this one seeing as though it was originally written in March 2012.

Ever since I learnt to read at the age of three I have been a book addict but after Kev suprised me with a Kindle one Christmas I've hardly picked up a real book.  I've read loads more though, tending to lean more towards recommendations and free Kindle downloads, expanding my reading genre.  I've also created a small-but-perfectly-formed Kindle group on Facebook full of reading suggestions, freebie alerts and writer/self-publishing information.

A couple of years ago I got a bit hooked on the "My Life in Books" programme hidden away on BBC2. Well-known faces were invited to share the books they love, explain why they had chosen them and read passages from them.  So I have decided to share some of my life in books with you.  Apart from two, I own the original copy from whenever and I often return to these for a bit of comfort reading. They have helped to enhance my love for books and there must be a reason I've hung on to them - but I can't work out what that is.

Maggie and the Roundabout (published in 1967).  This is the first book I remember having read to me and it's about a little gypsy girl who was given three sixpences to spend at the fair.  She spends all her money on food, has nothing left for any rides, manages to break the roundabout whilst operating it and ends up being shouted at by a load of adults.  But it all turns out OK in the end.

The Children's Book of Comic Verse (published in 1979).  Just a collection of short poems but I used to read some of these to my children instead of nursery rhymes.  I've just flicked through it and found this one by Elizabeth Wordsworth.  Poignant, I thought:
If all the good people were clever,
And all the clever people were good,
The world would be nicer than ever,
We thought that it possibly could. 
But somehow, 'tis seldom or never
The two hit it off as they should;
The good are so harsh to the clever,
The clever so rude to the good.

The Growing Pains of Adrian Mole (published in 1985).  This copy is falling apart, literally, I've read it so many times.  I can't remember what happened to my copy of the first book, The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole, aged 13¾, but I'm currently reliving it on Twitter thanks to the 30th anniversary account @adrianmole30.

Echoes (published in 1984).  This is the first Maeve Binchy book I read and I fell in love with her image of Ireland.  It still makes me want to trace my roots and visit what is left of my family over there.  Binchy's characterisations always remind me of carefree summers spent on the beach or away in the caravan, but her stories are also full of twists and complications in a normal environment:
It must have rained some days.  There had to be clouds and a wind would definitely have come up at high tide.  But none of them remembered it.
[..]
It was the first summer for a long time that nobody drowned in Castlebay.  One child did get into difficulties but Dr Power made him vomit up all the sea water and in an hour the incident was almost forgotten.  A woman fell and broke her hip on the path going down to the beach and Dr Power went out in his shirtsleeves and hammered in a board nailed to a stick saying Very very dangerous path.
[..]
Clare watched it all from the shop.  It was like a different world to her, these carefree people with their different clothes every day.

The Turbulent Term of Tyke Tyler (published in 1979).  The inside of this book has got "If this book doth chance to roam, smack its bum and send it home" in my 9 year old hand writing along with my name and address.  My Junior 2 (now Yr4) teacher (one of the most inspirational men in my life) read this out to us as a class a chapter at a time. Tyke just gets into all sorts of mischief during the last year of primary school and there is a major twist in the tale at the end.

George, Don't Do That. (published in 1982).  I just love the monologue-style, observational writing talent that Joyce Grenfell had:
Come along, children.  Listen carefully to the music and then dance like a flower to it.
We're ready at last, Mrs Boultin.  I'm so sorry
One - two - Off we go.
Dance, Neville, don't just stand there. Dance.
Head up, Hazel, and use your arms.
Peggy, dear - don't forget to breathe.
Rhythm, George.  And cheer up - you're a happy flower, George.
Yes, you are.
Because I said so.
Oh good, Sidney, I knew you'd think of something.
All right, you shall be a cauliflower - only be it gently.
But what makes this book all the more special is that it has "Writer of Children's Books" snuck in at the back which is a complete piss-take of Enid Blyton.

Grandmother Oma (published in 1966).  This isn't my original copy.  That was a great big, large print, hard-backed version with a clear plastic cover on, a bit like a library book (which it probably was... keep reading for the explanation).  I called my paternal grandparents "Oma" and "Opa" because Opa was German and I think that Oma gave me this book as it was the Oma she wanted to be - a bit dotty, living in the loft, roller-skating, hatching eggs and a whole host of other stuff.  My own Oma worked at a library suppliers and her spare room was stacked floor-to-ceiling with books (seconds, out-of-print books, staff discount books) and we always received books as presents or instead of pocket money when we went to her house.  I wholly believe that this is what encouraged me to read more as a child; the fact that the next time we visited, I would have a brand new book to take home with me.

Children of the Dust (published 1985).  The copy I have is not an original but it was a book that really had me glued to the pages when I borrowed it from the school library.  I was massively into Judy Blume at the time (which teenage girl wasn't?) and this was completely at the opposite end of the scale, detailing a nuclear attack on the United Kingdom and the twists of fate that followed.
"Remain in your houses," the radio announcer repeated. "Do not go outside until you are told it is safe to do so."
Then, quite suddenly, his monotonous voice stopped talking.  And a few moments later the lights went out.
"This is it," Veronica said grimly.
"Bristol?" asked Sarah,
"It's all dark!" Catherine shrieked.  "I don't like it! I want to be with you, Mummy!"
"Stay where you are!" Veronica said urgently.  "Sarah and I are right here in the room and the dark won't hurt you.  You must stay under the table and look after William."
"I'm not afraid of the dark," said William, scornfully.
"Then you look after Catherine," Veronica said.
Sarah's whole body was tense and listening.  It was very dark in the room but a faint line of sunlight showed through the weave of the blanket at the top of the window.  She heard a rumble in the distance, a great wave of sound that came sweeping towards her, engulfing everything in its path, drowning Catherine's cries.  Sarah blundered towards the fragile edge of light as the blast struck the house.

The Second Kidstuff (published in 1981).  One of those "cute things that kids say" books but the illustrations that went with it were funny too.  This was another book I inherited from my Oma; I always remember it was on the ledge under the coffee table in her lounge and my sister and I used to read through it on visits shaking our heads at the daft things that children supposedly said such as:
It's a good job ink is cheap because I just spilt some on the rug! 
Legs wear down that's why old people are small. 
Has anyone ever escaped from school?

Wicked: Women's Wit and Humour (published in 1995).  I forget how I came by this book but it's been a firm favourite on my book shelf for a few years now.  It's one of those books that  you can dip in and out of with funny and inspirational quotes, poems, prose, stories and sketches "from Elizabeth I to Ruby Wax" (as the introduction says).


Guinness British Hit Singles (8th Edition).  My music bible stolen borrowed from a friend and never returned (sorry, Neil).  I've used this for music quizzes, to satisfy my own curiosity and to settle arguments.  My only problem is that this edition only goes up to 1990 and my knowledge is pretty ropey after that.  Maybe I should treat myself and fork out for a new one?


What do you think of my life in books? Does it tell you anything about me? Do you have any books that you can't bear to get rid of or that you can read over and over again?

I've also shared 101 books that are classics to me.  You might like to have a read of that too.

Soundtrack To My Life - Bex

Soundtrack To My Life
It is time for Bex to share her Soundtrack To My Life choices today. Amongst her likes are the colour red, rock music (highlighted below), drumstick lollies and things that sparkle.  Her music choices vary greatly which is what I love most about this series.  For now, it's over to Bex...




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The Spice Girls - Wannabe 

My parents were never that interested in music when I was young and although they played some, there is nothing that stands out to me as a memory sparking song. The first music I really got into though was the Spice girls and I dove head first into this obsession. I remember singing this song with my friends at birthday sleepovers, and day dreaming about platform boots.



ACDC - Back in Black 

The bloke and I met at Download festival in 2010. We had a lot of friends in common and so were camping in the same area but had never met. The weekend involved copious amounts of alcohol, very little sleep and some amazing bands. Little did I know that I had met the man I would want to spend my life with, the man who would give me two beautiful boys. We stood in a field together, a pint in each hand and sang (well probably shouted) along to this song together.



Muse - Time is Running Out 

As a teen my music taste somewhat improved, and my love of 'real' music developed. Muse were the band I was desperate to see, the one I could play quietly on my portable CD player or blast from my Hi-Fi. They summarised my teenage years and I still play this album several times a week. I love their voices, their music and their lyrics and I can't help but sing along every single time.



The Killers - Mr Brightside 

I bought this album the week before starting university and it will always bring me back to life in halls, freshers week, turning up still drunk to 11am lectures and making friendships that will last a lifetime. Moving away from home was a big thing and the familiarity of music and songs that I knew every single word too helped me settle into the amazing new life I was making for myself



Leona Lewis - Happy 

I got this song stuck in my head when I was pregnant the first time and certain lines really stuck with me. My pregnancy was not planned and was at the very beginning of a new relationship. I was young, unprepared and confused, but I knew that I would do anything for this little person growing inside of me. I wasn't willing to give up my future and I wasn't going to give up my baby. I took the words and used them to feel strong about my decisions. I sung it so much during my pregnancy, that I found singing it to my newborn instantly calmed him, and even now at two years old, it is a song he loves to hear me sing.



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Soundtrack To My Life

Visit Bex's blog - The Mummy Adventure - or catch her on Facebook and Twitter.  You can view all previous Soundtrack To My Life entries by clicking on the mix tape to the right.  If you want to participate in 2014 please complete this form and I'll be in touch very soon.  

Soundtrack To My Life - Lorraine

Soundtrack To My Life
Today I introduce Lorraine to Soundtrack To My Life. Her Twitter bio makes her sound like my spiritual twin with her mentions of blogging, snooker and swearing. She originally fancied stopping at just the one song (Queen) and I probably wouldn't have minded on this occasion - or she could have just chosen five Queen/Freddie songs. Luckily for you, she chose four more and here they are.


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Queen - Bohemian Rhapsody 

Roll your eyes all you want. I've got something special about me, that I only share with a few thousand other people born within a couple of weeks of me. Bohemian Rhapsody was number 1 on the day I was born, and again on my 16th birthday. If you don't sing along, there is something seriously wrong with you. Really, why am I even going to choose another 4 songs, when it doesn't get more perfect than this? (Oh, yeah, right, Nickie will kill me, that's why)



Portishead - Sour Times (Airbus Reconstruction)

I grew up a couple of miles down the road from Portishead (the place) where Portishead (the band) originate from. And spent many happy hours in their presence, at other bands' gigs in my not-so wild & mis-spent teens. Aside from the fact that Sour Times is a stunning song on its own, and has been the soundtrack to some slightly less than lovely moments, this version is special. My friends' band were invited by Portishead to collaborate with them for this extended mix, and it blows it into a whole different dimension.



Fools Garden - Lemon Tree 

I went to college in Ilkley in West Yorkshire. Thank assorted deities I didn't include On Ilkla' Moor Bah Tat on this list (wait, there's still time...). A very small town, with half a dozen pubs, one alleged nightclub, and at the time, more students than were really necessary. The college and nightclub are long since history. However, this song was pretty much the club anthem, for no obvious reason. I remember the last night of my finals year, the DJ playing Lemon Tree and telling the leavers we'd never hear it anywhere again. Thanks to the internet, he turned out to be a liar. No-one remembers it except me, and it makes me popular with Germans.



Alannah Myles - Black Velvet 

1990. I'm 14, and slightly obsessed with Atlantic 252, and America's Top Ten, both of which played this before the official UK release. I was a strange kid and took too much enjoyment from liking things other people wouldn't, or couldn't This song is at least at the more sensible end of that spectrum. Anything after 1994, I'm drunk and it seems like an exceptionally good idea to sing this in karaoke. Fair warning - find me a karaoke machine right now, and I'm all over it like a woman possessed. It's not a pretty sight.



England Dan & John Ford Coley - I'd Really Love To See You Tonight 

When my beloved & I got together, he worked for a local community radio station. The vast majority of their playlist was atrocious. It was a close run thing between this and Rupert Holmes - Escape (the Pina Colada Song) as to which really summed up his time at the station. Seriously. I'm talking about 2005 here. And even now, these songs still feature on a daily basis! England Dan & John Ford Coley though, have achieved legendary status in our house, partly for the amazing suits & moustaches, and partly for the name. It's my standard desperation answer in pub quizzes now - one day it might be right. Maybe.




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Soundtrack To My Life

Say "hi" to Lorraine on Twitter and have a nosy at her blog - Squeaky Baby - I am LOVING her recent London themed post.. You can view all previous Soundtrack To My Life entries by clicking on the mix tape to the right.  If you want to participate in 2014 please complete this form and I'll be in touch very soon.  

[REVIEW] Garmin Nuvi 50 SatNav

My job takes me to the deepest darkest corners of Lancashire and having decent directions is so important. I had been relying on good old Google Maps - printed off originally but then using the built-in app on my phone but each came with its own bad points.  Paper versions are impossible to read whilst actually driving and the app wears down the battery on your phone really quickly so you can often find your way there but not your way back!

Tesco Compare have asked me to be a safety and security tester for car accessories and sent me the Garmin Nuvi 50 SatNav to review.

review, screenshots, Garmin Nuvi 50 SatNav


First impressions are that it is chunky without being too heavy and it fit perfectly into my existing windscreen device holder (although a screen holder is provided).  The screen on the Garmin Nuvi 50 is a huge 5in which was a massive improvement on the much smaller screen on my phone.

I scrolled through the settings initially and programmed some personal settings into it.  My Top Tip is to never "name" destinations because if the device was ever stolen then your "home" or "work" address would be immediately accessible.  However, if you do store addresses or favourite destination the there is a catalogue of icons you can attribute to each one which is a nice touch.  You can also change the "car" on screen and choose one of three map views.

Navigation to an address can be determined by street name, town or postcode or via a list of recently found destinations, which is handy if you are returning to an previously visited address which wasn't saved in your 'favourites' list.  You can also include standard additions such as petrol stations, places to eat and speed cameras.

There are two very handy screen features.  The first is a reminder of the current speed limit with your actual speed recorded next to it in real time.  The second is a 'lane assist' feature which shows you which lane you should be in at a roundabout or motorway junction.  The only downfall I have found from the Garmin Nuvi 50 is that there is no readout to show you how many miles away your destination is although it does give you an estimated time of arrival, also updated in real time dependant on speed.  The screen feels very cartoon-like but there are no feature distractions which I have occasionally found using the previously mentioned Google Maps app.  Speech direction is clear although there are the occasional comical mispronunciations of street names but that's pretty standard generally on satnavs.

All in all the Garmin Nuvi 50 is a great SatNav and does what it says on the tin with a few additional features.  It is powered by an in-car adaptor although the battery life is very good when fully-charged.  It retails for just under £100 which is a great investment for a gadget that is going to get you from A to B when you need it to.


[REVIEW] Zinc Sports Outbreak 2 Scooter

Offer a 14 year old a scooter to review and he becomes your most well behaved child. Jake has been trying out the Zinc Sports Outbreak 2 Scooter.  When we received the box I gave it to Jake to so that he could have the full experience of assembling his scooter (plus, I'm not brilliant with an Allen key so it was a bit of a cop-out).  Here's what he thought:

Zinc Sports Outbreak 2 Scooter

The scooter was only in two pieces and came with two Allen keys.  The instructions for assembly were printed with words and pictures and were really easy to follow.  It took me about five minutes to put together.  The stickers were already stuck to the metal frame so I had no choice about the placement of the grip tape (the non-slip footing on the base of the scooter). The frame is fairly lightweight (reinforced aircraft graded aluminium) but feels very sturdy. 
I went out on it straight away and it took about half an hour to break the wheels in (this means to make them spin freely).  The fully rotating footplate and pegs on the wheels make it easy for me to do stunts on it and there is a rear (fender) brake to help out with the stunts too.   
I am tall for my age (I'm 5' 11" and I'm 14 years old) so I would have liked for the handlebar height to adjust but it is the perfect size for my mum (Editors Note:  Yes, I had a go... inside the house, not in the street). 
The Outbrake 2 is only available in purple but it looks more like a dark blue.  Other stunt scooters on the Zinc website are available in different colours.  If I had the choice I would have liked a black and white or a blue scooter so I'm happy with this colour.  All my friends like it too - they are mainly skateboarders but there are a couple of us with scooters now.  I've really enjoyed reviewing the Zinc Sports Outbreak 2 Scooter and I took the pictures before I went out on it.

Specifications

  • Reinforced aircraft graded aluminium
  • Reinforced Y-shaped handlebars
  • Triple collar clamp
  • 360 rotating footplate
  • Grip tape
  • 100mm alloy core 85A PU wheels
  • Abec 7 bearings
  • Pro Grips
  • Fender brake
  • Front and Rear stunt pegs


Available from Argos.  RRP £99.99
(At the time of writing this scooter was available for half price - £49.99)


The Zinc Sports Outbreak 2 Scooter was provided for the purpose of this review.  
Please see my disclosure policy for more details.

The Gallery : Yellow

There was a knock at the door yesterday. I've learnt to recognise it; three slow rattles on the letterbox. It signals the arrival of two little hurricanes. The frosted glass in the front door shows the distorted images of two scruffy heads peering through who see the porch light switch on as I pad down the hallway. This is their cue to hide around the corner to 'surprise' me as I open the door.

Sometimes it is a yell of "HELLO" as they leap out at me! Other times, I hide behind the front door as it opens and jump out at them as they innocently wonder how the door has opened by itself. They babble their greetings, take off their shoes (it's a ritual), remind me that they haven't stayed over for a while and tell me that Mummy has a surprise in her bag for me.

The surprise is a bunch of daffodils.  They picked them in the park (we'll have words about that at a later date) and the stems are all but two inches long. No vase is small enough for them to stand up in so I find an old, mini mason jar in the cupboard, one that was stashed after a jam-making epidemic a couple of years ago.  It is perfect.

The daffodils sit on my table and bring a little shade of colour into the lounge.  They are a mini-reminder of the burst of sunshine that emits from my two granddaughters.

yellow daffodils



For more "Yellow" themed pictures have a scoot on over to Tara's blog - Sticky Fingers.


Soundtrack To My Life - Av

Soundtrack To My Life
This week's Soundtrack To My Life is from Av.  Myself and Av wasted far too many hours discussing all things 80s on a dedicated forum and chat room a few years back.  The biggest surprise, for me, in this STML is that there isn't any Spandau Ballet!!  Let's find out what she chose instead.




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John & Vengelis - I'll find my way home 

This lways reminds me of Christmas & going to the airport in Dublin to look at the decorations & the way the DAA lit up some parts of the airport. The atmosphere was brill there especially when we used to go and collect my brother from the airport when he'd come home from studying in America for Christmas.



John Parr - St Elmo's Fire 

All because it was the first Brat pack film I ever watched & loved the song from it. Somehow it reminds me of Live Aid but I've no idea why!



Squeeze - Hourglass 

I know it was out in '87 but it reminds me of the Barcelona Olympics. A few friends and I got together and decided that we wanted an alternative national anthem should Ireland win gold. We won one in the boxing, however the new national anthem didn't catch on. Aww... well!



First Class - Beach Baby

I went to California in 2007 and stayed with friends - this was one of the songs of the fortnight. Got nowhere "Old LA" (ii was staying in Monterey, an 8 hour drive north of LA) but did manage to bag a night in San Jose. Gorgeous place! No one asked me to marry them there though! Funnily enough, my first Microsoft chat name was Beach Baby.



The Tornadoes - Telstar

This reminds me of the summer I did my Junior Cert. A Dublin radio station played a 60's,70,s & 80's party mix on a Saturday night and a few friends and I used to have garden parties in each others houses to celebrate the end of the exams.This was the song/instrumental that used to get us all dancing. Even if we hear it at parties now - be it family or one of ours - we'll get up and dance to it.




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Soundtrack To My Life

Give Av a shout on Twitter to let her know how much you enjoyed this Soundtrack To My Life.  You can view all previous Soundtrack To My Life entries by clicking on the mix tape to the right.  If you want to participate in 2014 please complete this form and I'll be in touch very soon.  

#LastingChange - My Postcard From Tanzania

Today is International Women's Day. It is a global day that celebrates the economic, political and social achievements of women from the past, the present and the future. 

This year on International Women's Day, three bloggers are out in Tanzania finding out how donations to Sport Relief have helped create female entrepreneurs and "lasting change" for themselves, their families, their own communities and beyond.  


Tanya, one of the bloggers out in Tanzania at the moment, sent me this digital postcard. Here's what she wrote to me
"The woman in this picture is Lucy. Through mentoring and training with the Gatsby Trust, Lucy has gained the confidence to develop her business and to network after moving from the countryside to the city. She has her own craft and textile business and looks forward to expanding her business by training other women."

Isn't that inspirational and innovative?

You can help projects such as this in the UK and worldwide by reading about lasting change on the Sport Relief website - you can also find out how to join in and donate on there too. You can also raise awareness by sharing this blog post using the buttons at the top or bottom of the page and by searching for the #lastingchange hashtag on Twitter or the #lastingchange trend on Facebook

And, finally, so that you can see that continuous support and innovation are offered, here's my digital postcard from  Ghana last year.


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As an aside, Kate has prompted another Listography for International Women's Day and we are asked to nominate our top five inspirational women.  So, here we go...

5.  Lucy, sponsored by the Gatsby Trust.

No explanation needed as you have just read why.

4.  Marie Stopes

Marie Stopes
I explain most of it in the blog post I wrote for the banknotes campaign last year but basically she was writing about equality and promoting practical advice about sexual relationships over 100 years ago. She had progressive views on abortion, birth control and science. Amazing!

3.  Steph from Gogglebox

A woman with such strong views. Clothed in expensive attire yet swears almost as much as me. Affectionate yet brash, truthful yet emotional and sympathetic... and so in touch with the relationship with her husband that they almost finish each other's sentences and can slag each other off whilst retaining the humour.  Something that is needed so much in a marriage and partnership.

2. My old boss, Jackie

As I mentioned in this post, Jackie was an innovator and a forward-thinker. She championed my return to work after 14 years as a SAHM (stay at home mum) and pushed me to study for my degree with the Open University. Shel also helped me to develop and implement any ideas that I had for the future of the organisation.

1.  The WOMEN in my family 

grandparents, three generations
None of the elder women are with me any more in reality but they are with me in spirit.  They are all the reason that I am the person I am today. My grandmothers each have their own inspirational stories. I don't think I have written too much about my mum because even after ten years, it's hard to put my feelings out there.  However, you can see where I get my writing style from by reading this piece my mum wrote many years ago.  In the here and now, I find my daughter and my granddaughters also very inspirational in many different ways; my daughter for being the independent woman that she is and my granddaughters for being the individual little souls that they are.


A Hooker's Guide To Alternative Granny Squares

If you follow my twitter feed you'll see that it has recently been peppered with references to crochet and knitting. I have been trying out a little book that Black Sheep Wools sent to me.  It is part of a "Twenty To Make..." series and contains 20 different granny squares with 8 mini-projects and has really easy to follow instructions if you're a beginner like me.  As long as you can crochet a double and a treble stitch and have a bag of wool scraps (what hooker doesn't?) then you should be able to follow the patterns (instructions are given for the US hookers too).  Here's a couple of the granny squares I've done from the book compared to a traditional granny that I had already made.  They were loads easier than I thought they would be to complete and didn't take too much time.

crocheted granny squares instruction book
Crochet Granny Squares - £4.99 from Black Sheep Wools

After completing my first crochet project - an afghan throw - I sold my third born, bought more yarn and started on a new blanket which was going to be for our bed.  I've ended up splitting it into two and creating two smaller blankets (but they are still HUGE - it's double the size you can see here).  The other one is the same pattern but is blue, green and yellow.  Also, I've picked up my knitting needles again and I'm attempting to make a dress with some of this gorgeous black and grey yarn (you can download the pattern for free from here - we can be dress twins... or maybe not).


Black Sheep Wools also gifted me a few balls of wool so I'm in the process of creating a couple of mini snuggle-blankets for my granddaughters.  They look like this at the moment but it is my current go-to project when I want something to do but I don't have to concentrate.  As an aside, isn't the logo for Black Sheep Wools the absolute best?

Black Sheep Wools, granny squares



What are you making at the moment.  Let me know in the comments.

The #SaatchiBill : What is it? How can you help?

A few months ago I was asked to attend an event at the Houses of Parliament.  It was to hear how Lord Saatchi was developing a Medical Innovation Bill designed to help support doctors who want to innovate so they can advance medical science and so they can find new and better treatments or cures for diseases.  This has been called the Saatchi Bill.

Sadly, I couldn't attend the event due to work commitments but I know how social media (blogging, Twitter, Facebook, Google Plus) can be used to spread information and awareness.

Firstly, please can I ask you to watch this video at some point this week. Now, during your lunch break, Friday evening, bookmark it and watch it whenever. I'll explain why further down the page.




The Saatchi Bill supports medical innovation - more importantly, innovation in cancer treatment. Currently, the law prevents innovation in cancer treatment citing it as negligence.  It needs to be known that doctors who innovate don't do what they want and they do not treat their patients as guinea pigs. They use bold, scientific findings - a clear path to lawful innovation.  All treatments are created initially through innovative thinking, research, experimentation and action.  

I am totally clear in my thinking that if certain drugs and treatments hadn't been used during my daughter's path to recovery then we would not have her with us today. If you would like to read our story then you can find it here - There are only so many perfect heads in the world, the rest are covered with hair.

Again, I ask you to watch this video - 36 minutes of your time is not a lot to ask, is it? After watching the video then please support the Saatchi Bill team however you can. Read their website, seek them out on your favoured social media channels and listen to what they are proposing.

Now you're at the end, please hit one of the share buttons provided at the top or the bottom of this blog post and share it with your friends.  Ask them to read about the Saatchi Bill and do the same - learn, support and spread the word.  Thank you.






Soundtrack To My Life - Toni

Soundtrack To My Life
My favourite ex-pat, Toni, is my inner voice when I get a bit ranty. She is the angel on my right shoulder when things get a bit heated. She soothes my ruffled feathers by giving me a good verbal kicking when it all goes a bit Pete Tong, and for that I am ever grateful. Let's have a listen to the musical memories she's chosen for Soundtrack To My Life and see if she calms you down too...  


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George Harrison - My Sweet Lord

I got my love of music from my dad. Although his real genre was Sinatra, Tony Bennet etc back in the 50's, he was open to anything. I was a kid when My Sweet Lord came out in 1970. I loved it and would just stop whatever I was doing when it came on the radio. One Saturday, he must have seen this, and he said "Come on, let's go and get it". We jumped in the car and drove to Boots and just bought it. That's not something we typically did. It was my first single and a memory I'll treasure. (Dad died when I was 20 and he was 50.)



Jane Russell and Marilyn Monroe (Gentlemen Prefer Blondes OST) - Two Little Girls from Little Rock

When I lived in London, in my 20's, my mate Diane (Hayman, founder of In the Powder Room) used to "perform" this ditty after we'd had a few. (We also used to fight over who was Marilyn). Di was on the scene when I met my future, American husband. We were all out at dinner and I asked him where he was from. Little Rock. I stood up in the middle of the restaurant and yelled at Di - "He's from Little Rock!"



The King And I OST - Getting to Know You

I was brought up watching this movie and love it still. When I had my first child (now 20), I used to sing this to her as her lullaby. When she was about 18 months, she used to sing it all the time in her little toddler voice. (For some reason my boys were never really into it despite my best efforts.) Hearing it now, I get a tiny lump in my throat when I think of singing it to my babies.



Rick Springfield - Jessie's Girl

This is a song from my youth and was huge at all the rock discos. That opening guitar line is just iconic. I'm thrilled these days because all three of my kids (ages 20, 18 and 10) love it, and it still gets a lot of air play. They even allow me to get up and dance with them when it comes on anywhere. And - my 18 year old can play the whole thing so I have it on-demand now!



Uptown Mayhem - Seeing Stars

This is my son's band; he wrote the lyrics and music and although it's very "young" sounding, I really really like it.



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Soundtrack To My Life

The easiest way to find out about Toni, her writing and her the links to her blogs is to visit her main website - Toni Summers Hargis.  You can also find her on Twitter as @tonihargis.

You can view all previous Soundtrack To My Life entries by clicking on the mix tape to the right.  If you want to participate in 2014 please complete this form and I'll be in touch very soon.