My Running Medals in 2017

Fitbitches : My Running Medals in 2017

If you've read any of my Fitbitches posts during 2017 you'll notice a theme - it's all about the struggle; the struggle with my mental attitude... not being as good as I could/should be and over-thinking the whole situation instead of just getting on with it. 

I did have two goals for 2017 - "a medal a month" and "1000km in 2017".  I know for sure that I didn't achieve the second goal as my Strava profile shows 657.5km covered for the full year but as I evaluate my activity,  I know that with some effort and determination I can actually cover 1000km in 2018.  However, you'll see by the picture, I did achieve twelve medal however it wasn't exactly one a month.

So rather than mull over the negative, I did think it would be a positive exercise to reflect on my achievements, namely in the medals that I received for completing challenge and races, and share some thoughts about each one.

Fitbitches : My Running Medals in 2017

Fitbitches : My Running Medals in 2017 - Virtual Runner Unicorn Medal
The Unicorn Medal was achieved in January and is a Virtual Runner challenge to get moving at the beginning of the year.  It also spawned the #FitbitchesMOVEment idea which I now know has a lot of potential but looks set to change and grow in 2018. 

Fitbitches : My Running Medals in 2017 - East Lancs Hospice 10k
The East Lancs Hospice 10k (also in January) was my first attempt at this course - I'd marshalled the year before as I was injured - and it's a tough one.  It was super-muddy in places and has one hell of a hill in the middle but fellow runners were half way up that hill shouting encouragement and dishing out hugs and jelly babies. I also had the support of my friend, Susan, at my side all the way and she made sure I got to the end.

Fitbitches : My Running Medals in 2017 - Blackburn Road Runners Winter Warmer 10k
In February, the Blackburn Road Runners Winter Warmer 10k course is met with a mixture of dread and excitement by most participants. The first three kilometres is uphill and includes my nemesis incline, Buncer Lane. I ran most of it on my own but was very grateful for all the familiar faces around the course shouting encouragement. When I finished I felt a massive sense of achievement as I crossed the finish line. 

Fitbitches : My Running Medals in 2017 - Stroke Association Resolution Run
I think there were fifteen fellow runners from my running groups taking part in the Stroke Association Resolution Run (some did the 5k, some did the 10K) in Manchester in March and we painted Heaton Park purple with our stripy socks and fancy dress.  This was more of a "fun run" and it was probably the wettest run I've ever participated in but it was good to support a charity that was also the focus of fundraising at our local running club.

Fitbitches : My Running Medals in 2017 - GroupRun Blackburn Progression
I'd been volunteering with GroupRun Blackburn Progression Group and this medal was for the March 10k Celebration Run.  It was a horrible run for me with a mini panic attack at 9k and the need to give myself a good talking to.  Looking back, I can see that this is where my confidence really diminished but having this knowledge means that I can know what to look out for in the future if I'm feeling a bit unsure about my running.

Fitbitches : My Running Medals in 2017 - Virtual Runner Coffee Cup
The Coffee Cup was another Virtual Runner challenge - to run/walk 5k - and I used this medal to encourage a few friends to start their #FitbitchesMOVEment journey.  As we all live in separate parts of the country, we all agreed to train for and then run/walk 5k on the same date in March. Watching my friends become active, have a reason to move more and have a goal to attain by a certain date filled me with pride. Most of the participants have carried on their fitness journey with one now training for the 2018 London Marathon. 

Fitbitches : My Running Medals in 2017 - Virtual Runner Little Miss Sunshine
Little Miss Sunshine was another 10k challenge from Virtual Runner (I promise I'm not sponsored by them haha) but the charity for this run was Children With Cancer - obviously something that I want to support as my daughter is a Neruoblastoma survivor

Fitbitches : My Running Medals in 2017 - Virtual Runner May Fun Run
The May Fun Run was yet another virtual run. I think I logged 7k for this one and, shamefully, I can't remember why or even the charity behind it - but, hey, we do it for the bling, don't we? Plus, at this time of the year, I was still more or less on track for the 'medal a month'. 

Fitbitches : My Running Medals in 2017 - Virtual Runner Forever Manchester Always Remeber #Run22
How can any of us ever forget the Manchester Arena bombing on 22nd May 2017? A whole wave of fund-raising events sprung up to raise money for the victims and their families including this #Run22 medal where you had to run for just 22 minutes (although some people ran for 22 kilometres or 22 miles).  The medal was commissioned especially and the ribbon displays the words "Forever Manchester - Always Remember". 

Fitbitches : My Running Medals in 2017 - GroupRun Blackburn 5k Celebration Run
After falling out of love with running earlier in the year, I went back to volunteering for the 'couch to 5k' plan with GroupRun Blackburn. In the September edition of Fitbitches I wrote more about how this is my comfort zone and where I know that I can reconnect with my reason for running.  I participated in the August Celebration Run and received the same medal that we award all our new runners. It was like returning to the beginning again and a new start for me.  And if you're a regular reader, you'll know that I joined Blackburn Road Runners in November.

Fitbitches : My Running Medals in 2017 - Fylde Coast Runners Windmill 10k
November brought a new challenge - running one of my favourite races as an official club member.  The Fylde Coast Runners Windmill 10k was the first ever "long" run I ever completed back in 2015 and it's on my home ground.  I hadn't run this distance in a few months but, yet again, fellow runners - Bev and Amanda - ran with me and pulled me through to the finish line.  

Fitbitches : My Running Medals in 2017 - Wesham Road Runners 10k
The final medal of the year was the Wesham 10k, organised by Wesham Road Runners and always well attended by the Blackburn crew because many of us run to support and raise money for Theo's Warriors - a local cancer charity.  Another good course and another run where I was propped up for most of the way, this time by Lesley.

There haven't been many 'personal best' times recorded this year and it's been rocky twelve months were I haven't really known what my focus was. Looking back, I now realise how much support and encouragement there is out there for me and I'll be eternally grateful for that. It's made me look at my progress differently and I now accept that a few changes have to be made and that having a challenge to work towards really helps with my vision.  

I 'acquired' another "Winter Warmer" place for the 4th February (don't ask!) and I've book the Sweatshop 10 mile (YES, MILES) in Blackpool for the 18th March so they are my first challenges of the year. I'm going in with a Positive Mental Attitude, a professional arse-kicking training partner (yo, Claire!) and I'll be wearing my Blackburn Road Runners vest with pride at all events.  


Read other Fitbitches blog posts from this year

 January | February | March | April | May | JuneJuly | August | September | October | November | December


Saving Money Doesn’t Have to Be Boring

If you’ve wanted to save money then you’ve probably looked at “boring” ways of doing so. Perhaps you’ve finally decided that you want to purchase a home in the future and maybe that has led you to open a savings account. However, taking money out of your salary every week or month and depositing it into a savings account can sometimes be frustrating or upsetting. It’s a boring way to save money and it can severely reduce your chances of successfully saving your cash. To make things easier, we’ve put together a couple of fun ways to help you save money so that you can easily secure your financial situation in the future.

Avoid Brands

While it might be normal to go for branded items such as toiletries, food or even clothing, it’s a good idea to look at the generic nameless items or brands as well. If you’re lucky, you’ll find that there are plenty of cheap nameless alternatives to your everyday items that you spend a considerable chunk of money on. Whether it’s heading to the supermarket to buy their brand of cereal or purchasing blank shirts and trousers on the internet, avoid brands so you can stock up on items and pay less at the same time.

Pick a Different Bank

Some banks love giving back to their customers. Sometimes you’ll get free coupons, unique deals or even special promotions. If you have to save money, make it fun and have it give back to you by looking for alternative banks to sign up for. Look at their reward schemes and see if they have any offers going on that could give you better value for your commitment.

Learn to Budget

Learning to budget your money might sound frustrating or boring, but it can actually help you realise where you can spend more money and where you could save. Budgeting can easily be done with the help of some software either on your computer or phone, but you can just as easily budget using a piece of paper and a pencil.

Paying Less for Tech

If you find yourself spending a lot of money on tech, then there’s one simple solution that will help you save heaps of money: learning about the tech you use. If you’re quite the computer enthusiast then you’ll realise how much money you can save by purchasing pre-owned or second-hand components and building your own computer. You can also save money by getting refurbished phones and laptops instead of relying on buying new items all the time. Not only are they more reliable because they’ve been well-used and potentially fitted with replacement parts, but you’ll save a lot of money that could be put to better use.

Embrace Staying at Home

Do you just love heading out and going with friends to a bar, going to the cinema or even going out to eat? Instead of spending all your money on heading out, why not stay indoors now and then? Buying alcohol and drinking it at home with your friends might not be the same as going to a bar to meet people, but it’s still a great time to be had with friends. Similarly, staying in with your family to watch a movie on video-on-demand service is far cheaper than buying several tickets to go to the cinema. Hosting a dinner party for your friends is also a lot less expensive than eating out and can be just as entertaining. In short, embrace the idea of staying at home to entertain yourself, don’t just waste your money by spending it on days and nights out!

Scour the Net for Deals

You’d be surprised at the number of websites and services on the internet where you can find coupons and discount codes for virtually anything. Whether it’s a Superdrug discount code to make toiletries cheaper or a discount code for clothing, you can find a lot of fantastic deals online as long as you’re willing to put in some work to search around.

Learn to DIY

Doing things yourself is a much better option than paying for it if you can. For instance, if you have a bit of knowledge on repairing computers, then it’s better to look up how to fix your issues instead of calling up an expensive technician. Similarly, if you need to paint your home, try and buy the paint, brushes and other materials and get a few of your family members or friends to help you out.

Frugal Fashion Tips

If you love fashion then you’ll probably love buying excessive amounts of clothing. Whether it’s buying shoes, shirts, jackets or even socks, your collection could probably amount to quite a lot of money. If you want to save money on your fashion, then why not follow some frugal fashion tips? For instance, don’t be afraid to wait for sales if you have to own branded items. Consider going to a thrift store if you love expressing yourself through your fashion, and make sure you take care of your clothing so you don’t end up replacing them on a regular basis due to bad cleaning habits.

Living With Less

If you want to love saving money, then you need to learn how to live with less. Ask yourself if you really need all of your possessions; if you absolutely must own all of the games, music and entertainment that you have. Many people become mindless consumers without even knowing it and it doesn’t take long to realise that you’ve been spending far too much on things that you don’t actually use on a regular basis. Learning to live with less is a fun lifestyle change because it enables you to find entertainment in everything around you and you’ll rarely be left with a feeling of dissatisfaction.

The Ultimate Gift Guide For The Stationery Lover

Do you have a stationery lover in your family but you're not sure what to buy them in case you make a huge faux pas? 

As "Stationery Blogger of the Year", I've had the opportunity to try a number of stationery items during the past few months and have also been on a journey of discovery so I'm happy to recommend presents that any stationery aficionado would be pleased to receive.

The Ultimate Gift Guide For The Stationery Lover - Gifts that any stationery lover would be happy to receive.


I've been working with Mustard Gifts all year and their products are themed into collections for a full-on desk make-over. I filmed a Facebook Live video showcasing some of their items a while back so take a look...

My favourite themes so far have been Rainbow themed stationery (awesome sticky notes and page markers) and the really fun T-Rex collection (check out the mini pencil case which doubles as an elastic notebook closure and the really fun bookends). 

They also have a tech section on the website which includes items such as a USB cup warmer and some very cute Unicorn & Rainbow fairy lights but my absolute favourite item is their USB 'bright ideas' lamp which I could use a bed-side light as I have a USB adaptor plug that fits into a normal wall socket.  

If you're looking for an affordable pen then you cant go wrong with the selection at Pen Heaven.  I have a three-in-one Cross Tech pen and a Parker pen from the Urban range (both personalised) however I'm sure you'll find something on the website that you'll love!

More personalised stationery comes from Rymans. There's a full selection of notebooks, prints and gift-wrap to really add that special touch. The also have a fab selection of diaries for 2018 (you can see my other recommendations in my Diary & Journal Suggestions for 2018 blog post)

Also, if you're loving a quirky print then check out the range available via Ritzy Rabbit. These are approximately A4 size so really easy to get framed. Also have a look at the rest of the gifts available on the website - I'm loving the "gym bunny" mug! 

I'd never forgive myself if I didn't mention washi tape.  Even if you don't know what it is, your stationery-loving recipient will adore it and know exactly what to do with it.  The first place to check out is Mrs Brimbles' shop. There is always new and unusual patterns available and they don't hang around for long. She sourced me some amazing social media and fitness style tape earlier this year and I've yet to see any more like it.  Also check out the selection provided by The Journal Shop and the aforementioned Mustard Gifts

For a more adult gift you could package together the Profanity Pencils from the EastLondonPencilCo on Etsy, a "Get Shit Done" notebook from Pocket Notebooks and the Sweary Colouring Books by James Alexander with some sweary colouring pencils from Little Row Boat.

And finally, if none of the above has inspired you then a subscription to a regular stationery selection might whet your appetite.  My favourites are from Spotlight Stationery (available as a gift for 3 or 6 months - my mini-review can be found here) and Papergang from Ohh Deer (available as a 3, 6 or 12 month subscription - view two unboxings on my Stationery Playlist on YouTube). 

I hope this has inspired you to buy that special gift for the stationery lover in your life.  Let me know what you pick for them! 


The ultimate guide to health and fitness holidays

The ultimate guide to health and fitness holidays

While the New Year sees plenty of us showing an interest in health, fitness and our overall wellbeing, for others it’s a year-round concern. Whichever camp you fall into however, it’s often a good idea to mix that passion with your travel plans throughout the year.

I’ve been giving a lot of thought to how I can ensure I do more on my holidays than just lounge around with margaritas, as lovely as that would be. While relaxation is important, I’m finding that there are a ton of fitness holidays and ways to stay on top of your health while you travel. The options seem to be pretty versatile too, whether it’s a classic getaway, an exotic cruise or something in between.

Of course, yoga retreats are always a big one, and I was pleasantly surprised at just how varied the destinations can really be. There’s a nice selection in the UK, from the Yorkshire Moors to Devon, while the thought of taking a rejuvenating yoga retreat to France or Portugal is hugely appealing. Somewhere like Thailand, India or Sri Lanka could prove particularly spiritual too.

If you’re looking for a more rigorous solution, a bootcamp can get you in shape fast. It might sound like an odd choice for a holiday, but I can’t deny the allure of some of the destinations on offer. St Lucia in the Caribbean, for instance, is a gorgeous island that also plays host to The Body Holiday experience. It’s a specialised fitness resort where you can indulge in everything from yoga to sailing, scuba diving and equestrianism, all surrounded by a paradise of palm trees and pale beaches. They also have beauty treatments on offer and can even delve into your mind to help clearer thinking. While you’re there, you can also work on getting a good healthy eating regimen in place for when you land pack home.

If that all sounds a bit intensive, my advice is to see how you can fit your hobbies around a holiday that keeps you active. As an example, let’s say you and your partner are really into tennis. There are specialist resorts like the Aphrodite Hills Tennis Academy in Cyprus that promise superb matches on top of the line courts, backed up by facilities and expertise for you to improve your game. As for me, my love of running means I’ve daydreamed of one day seeing a marathon in London, Paris, Lisbon or even its birthplace, Greece.

So far, so inspiring. But if there’s one kind of holiday that’s massively growing in popularity, it’s cruising. Much like any of the other package holidays we’ve discussed here, many cruises have their own specialised fitness focussed voyages, sometimes collaborating with some leading healthy living minds, like Dr Andrew Weil.

Luckily, even your common cruise offers plenty of ways to keep fit and active. I always thought of cruising as a sedate affair, all sangrias by the pool and big dinners, but a quick look at a ship like Marella Dream showed me there’s a gym as much as a pool to get stuck into. Couple that with a spa, a sauna and plenty of wide open decks to jog on, and you can consider me intrigued.

I’m still pondering where my next big break will take me, but I’m willing to bet that there will be a little more health and fitness involved than usual.

8 Diary And Journal Suggestions for 2018

Diary And Journal Suggestions for 2018 - There are, however, some stand-out items in journal land so I've collated them to help you choose your diary for 2018.

As 'Stationery Blogger of the Year' I've been lucky enough to review and recommend lots of stationery items this year, including many diaries, journals and notebooks, in all shapes and sizes.  If I'm being totally honest, I struggle to find a diary that totally suits my needs so I tend to mix-and-match with a diary and bullet journal plus reminders on my phone. There are, however, some stand-out items in journal land so I've collated them to help you choose your diary for 2018.


Pocket Notebooks

Diary And Journal Suggestions for 2018 - Pocket Notebooks
If you are a list maker or an incessant note taker then Pocket Notebooks will definitely have the jotter for you.  If you're after a pocket diary then they stock the Word. Standard Memorandum but also a wide variety of notebooks, including left handed memo pads.  They also have added a selection of pens, pencils and accessories.   

Mustard Gifts 

Diary And Journal Suggestions for 2018 - Mustard GiftsI wanted to give Mustard Gifts a little mention here even though I'll be focusing more on their offerings for my 'Stationery Lovers Gift Guide' because they have a fantastic range of notebooks, including dot-grid paper in their T-Rex range - fantastic and fun for your bullet journalling.

The Journal Shop

Diary And Journal Suggestions for 2018 -The Journal Shop
I've noticed two alternative diary options from The Journal Shop which make your planning a little bit more personal. The first is the Simple Daily Planner which would work brilliantly as a journal and the Un Recueil D'essais notebook which is undated but the layout reminds me of a Hobonichi. They also have a fun quiz on their website which helps you decide what your pen says about you!

Think Trigg

Diary And Journal Suggestions for 2018 - Think TriggI was lucky enough to see the 2017 version of the Trigg Life Mapper and then win a copy of the 2018 edition this week!! This is a page-a-day productivity companion that forces you to plan and move towards your goals for the year with prompts and reflection points. It's a chunky little number and more likely to stay on your desk or side table than be carried about with you.

Dodo Pad 

Diary And Journal Suggestions for 2018 - Dodo Pad
The DodoPad combines practicality and humour in it's combined planner/diary/doodle book.  Each double page spread provides space for multi-reason planning (family, work/home, hobby) and a blank page for notes. Their 2018 diary selection comes in various sizes and also includes Filofax-compatible inserts.  I've already got the calendar up in the kitchen and the desk diary at work. Have a look around the website for notebooks and project organisers too.

Diary And Journal Suggestions for 2018 - Filofax


If you're a Filofax traditionalist then you will already know which insert suits your needs the best - my preference is the 'week to view with notes' - but my hero of the year from Filofax is their refillable notebook. I've used both the A5 and the pocket version - each come with 4 dividers and a selection of paper - and they are both sturdy and practical. 

Hope House Press

Diary And Journal Suggestions for 2018 - Hope House Press
If you want a luxury made-to-order personalised leather diary for 2018 then Hope House Press is the website to visit. I've already recommended their 'secret code' diary cover creations however you can personalise any of their diary or notebook collections and they've even added accessories such as pens and pencil cases, some of which can also be personalised.

Shop here 
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Toad Diaries 

Diary And Journal Suggestions for 2018 - Toad Diaries Can you not find that diary layout that works for you? Maybe a Toad Diary is the way forward. The whole journal, from cover to cover, can be designed by you including when your diary starts, the layout and the colour scheme. They also have different styles of diaries to choose from such as monthly planners and fitness journals. 


I hope this has helped you to find your perfect diary for 2018. Let me know what you choose. 


The Beach at St Annes On Sea : My Happy Place

When I stand on the beach, with the wind nipping at my ears and whipping my hair, I can lose myself in the enormity of it all. I look one way and see nothing but sea, spilling off the edge of the horizon. I look another and see the wrought iron pier with the strange edifice just off the end; the wooden remnants of the fire thirty five years ago. I can turn three hundred and sixty degrees and not one inch of the landscape appears unchanged. This was my childhood playground and I have made it my children’s and grandchildren's playground too.

St Annes On Sea Beach - St Annes pier, showing the damage from the 1982 fire

We drive out here as often as we can and walk for miles. We count the colourful beach huts and run up and down the sand dunes. We dream of living in one of the houses opposite – in a 1950’s carefree style – shorts and sandals, picnics, adventures and endless holidays. We prefer this end of the beach because it feels like a local secret. The tourists stay near the shops and the hotels, paddling in the boating lake and digging into their expensive ice creams. 

My granddaughters playing on St Annes Beach

Whilst lost in my daydream there has been a flurry of activity further down the beach. The kite surfers are out, taking advantage of the weather. It’s not too cold but the wind strength is ideal. The surfers head the half mile out to the water’s edge, clinging to their kites so they don’t get dragged along. It must be amazing to be out on the water today, dipping and diving like a bird. Free but with a sense of danger.

St Annes On Sea Beach : sand

As I lick my lips I can taste salt. We haven’t been near the water yet but the wind carries the spray even this far. I breathe in deeply and, for a final time for another few weeks, take in the smell of my childhood and think that we are lucky to have this so close to home.


A version of this essay first appeard on The Vandal back in October 2010 and I've been meaning to rewrite it for a long time. Lancashire Day felt like the perfect time. Any time I'm feeling a bit out of sorts, I head over to 'my beach' and find myself at ease again.

St Annes Beach - St Annes On Sea


What's In My Bag | Mia Tui Review

I was super excited when I saw Mia Tui tease one of their new handbags on their Facebook page recently.  The style, shape and size reminded me so much of my Fossil Sydney Satchel (which I'm sure you are sick of me talking about now) so I was keen on comparing the two. 

What's In My Bag | Mia Tui Review  - the Jane in black with blue lining
I'm a huge fan of Mia Tui and own a number of their bags already. It's amazing to see this company grow and learn what their customers want and need as new styles are added. As ever, the build and finish of the Jane bag is excellent and the contrast between the outer faux-leather colour and the interior lining is lovely - this is the first lining I've had in one of their bags that hasn't been pink! 

As a straight comparison, there isn't much difference in what you can carry in the Mia Tui Jane and the Fossil Sydney Satchel.  What is great about the Mia Tui Jane is that their traditional internal pockets allow you to fully organise the contents of your bag and it doesn't feel like a black hole! Have a look at my video for a proper 'show and tell' and a nosy at what's currently in my every day bag. 

I'm going to live with the bag for a few weeks and I'll write an update in the New Year but it already feels like it's going to suit my needs 

The Mia Tui Jane is available in four colours and comes with a small matching pouch and the long detachable shoulder strap. It is currently £40 on the website - but have a look at all the other bags on there and the never-ending special deals or bundles.  I'm sure there's one to suit your lifestyle too! They've also just won the Mother & Baby award for 'best changing bag' so HUGE CONGRATULATIONS to Charlotte and the team.

Follow Mia Tui

Does Your Digital History Matter?

Typecast : Does Your Digital History Matter?

Back in 2012 I wrote about the effect that your digital footprint will have on your future social standing and five years later we are still hearing about how 'celebrities' are being hauled over the coals for their digital past. I've noticed a trend for this activity when they appear on a mainstream reality tv show and viewers and/or journalists take it upon themselves to trawl through their tweets from years gone by to expose any racist, political, misogynistic or otherwise non-PC language used in their online history.  I suppose you could categorise this as 'trolling'... but do we have a right to know how these role models have shaped themselves or should the past be left in the past?

This type of exposure is not exclusive to, but is more prevalent with, new media stars; the likes of YouTube celebrities with their millions of tween and teen followers.  The ones that have grown up with social media literally at their finger tips.  Many of them not even knowing a time without "The Internet" and an online career seeming to be a natural progression from experimenting with blogging and vlogging.

The two examples I'm going to use are Zoe Sugg and Jack Maynard.

Unless you are 14 years old, or have an obsession with digital media like me, Jack Maynard was a bit of an unknown entity as a 2017 I'm A Celebrity Get Me Out Of Here camp mate and when it was announced that he had over one million followers across his social media channels, people wanted to know who he was.

Three days in the jungle was enough time for his Twitter account to be finely combed and tweets with inappropriate language from five years ago sent to a tabloid newspaper.  Because he wasn't able to respond immediately to the claims, he had to agree to be removed from the show to issue an apology and explain his actions. Since then it has also been reported that he may have sent inappropriate messages to a young female fan - a fine line to walk and something that is under investigation at the time of writing.

Ms Sugg (aka Zoella) has been both championed as a unofficial spokesperson for mental health issues but also berated for not being completely truthful about her full involvement with products produced using her name/brand, such as her first book, ironically named 'Girl Online'.

Most recently, she was highlighted again in the mainstream media for having a advent calendar - with only 12 doors (!) - priced at at £50, which she seemed happy to pimp out across her social media network and the much criticised YouTube event, Hello World Live.  That was until the contents of the calendar were exposed as being... well, basically tat that you can buy elsewhere and not worth anywhere in the region of £50.  A less than sincere apology was quickly created and shared and fellow YouTubers stood by her side.

But that's like a red rag to a bull in this day and age. Trolls want more than blood - they want digital suicide and they go all out to find the public messages that may set the ball rolling! Zoe was no exception with tweets from six years ago being reshared across the Twitter platform and beyond.

I suppose what this has done has made other celebrities examine their own past (digital and elsewhere) and given them the opportunity to make themselves accountable for their actions.  Read this series of tweets from grime and hip hop artist, Stormzy:

In no way does his apology change his past opinions but it does show that he is taking responsibility for his previous online activity and language and making positive changes to become a better person. It's a step in the right direction.

My friend Claire and I had a bit of a conversation last night (on Twitter, funnily enough) about freedom of speech. We were taking about using certain people for ratings or to bring a new audience to an old show and how Katie Hopkins had never been removed from reality shows for her social opinions but I don't agree that it can be boxed off in the same way.

For me, it's about ownership of your words and being responsible for what you put out on a digital platform regardless of who you are.  Katie Hopkins has placed herself firmly on the social commentary ladder and doesn't give two fucks about anyone or anything. She'll argue black is white if she believes it to be so and this is her right, regardless of whether I think it's befitting. 

I have less influence than someone like Zoe, Jack or Stormzy but there are still people reading my content and reacting to it.  I'm not here to change the world - I hope I make my friends and readers think a little differently, or even get them to challenge my opinions - but I won't put anything online that I don't believe in or that I won't be able to justify in the future, and I'm very careful about what language I use.  The three examples I have used today all have a young and influential audience who hang onto every word they say and it MATTERS that they take on board that responsibility and not treat it as disposable media, forgotten as soon as it has scrolled past. 

And finally, a message to reality show producers... employ a troll to dissect the social media accounts of your next batch of  'celebrities'.  I'm tired of all the controversy and media fall-out taking the spotlight away from what we are supposed to be enjoying, whether that be someone wimping out of a jungle trial, having a breakdown in a controlled household full of cameras or singing for their supper on whatever music programme is currently ringing in our ears. 


Going on Holiday When You Next Move House Could Save You a Lot of Hassle

Booking a holiday abroad has been a mainstream activity for friends, couples and families alike in the UK for decades, both in the summer months as well as during wintertime. Venturing away to an exciting retreat has its own set of benefits during the winter, with activities for all the family depending on where you stay. 

Going on Holiday When You Next Move House Could Save You a Lot of Hassle

More recently however, a trend is starting in London whereby those wishing to move home vacation during the transfer process, allowing a moving service to handle everything while you relax abroad. This way, you can enjoy a stress-free experience and return from your holiday to a new house with your furniture in place and wine in the fridge. 

Going on Holiday When You Next Move House Could Save You a Lot of HassleThis is becoming increasingly popular in the heart of the capital, but if you’re interested in taking this route, the best handyman in London are Handy Squad’s veteran team of professionals – they provide everything from electrical, plumbing and decorating to moving services and carpentry. 

If you’d like to join an ever-expanding community of satisfied customers, check out their Facebook group – Moving to a new property is a stressful enough time without the trouble of shifting, placing and unpacking everything in your new home while you wait for the basic amenities to return. That’s why Handy Squad ensures everything is finished and ready for you before you return.

As stated on the Evening Standard, Handy Squad operates from their signature yellow vans and scooters, allowing them to zip around London and reach clients quickly. Whether you need a simple man-and-van service, or something more comprehensive, let someone else do the heavy lifting while you work on your tan or tackle the ski slopes. If you want to know more about the services they offer, Handy Squad can be found at

Going on Holiday When You Next Move House Could Save You a Lot of Hassle

This article was written by David Newman, owner of Ad Lab, an eCommerce digital marketing agency. David enjoys keeping in shape, sipping large amounts of tea and spoiling his family.


Fancy a Snooker Table in Santa’s Sack but Don’t Have the Room?

Introducing Convertible Snooker Dining Tables

If you have children (or a messy partner), you’ll be familiar with how cluttered your home can become in just a few short days. From abandoned toys to discarded devices, our loved ones can be an untidy bunch at the best of times. 

With Christmas just around the corner, the last place you want to find those bits and pieces is in the garden or garage on a bitter cold morning; but if you have a dedicated games room, all of that clutter can have a devoted home of its own. Not only will you and your family have a place to store your possessions, you’ll also have a room designed entirely around leisure and relaxation. From pursuing your hobbies to curling up with a film to entertaining guests, a games room is the modern living room of the family home.

Fancy a Snooker Table in Santa’s Sack but Don’t Have the Room? Introducing Convertible Snooker Dining Tables

Not everyone will have an additional room to spare for a purpose like this though, which is why the bespoke snooker dining tables at Hamilton Billiards come highly recommended. Available in snooker, pool and billiard varieties, these tables can seamlessly convert from a subtle yet stylish dining table to a fully functional, high-quality playing surface.

A centrepiece like this can provide the entire family with enjoyment, whether they’re newcomers to the game or not. It’s also sure to please even the grumpiest of visitors, and allows you to breathe life into an unused dining area – turning it into a personal hobby room or cinema room depending on the situation.

Hamilton Billiards is an established snooker table supplier and a member of the Guild of Master Craftsmen, offering a staggering range of tables, accessories and custom modifications for beginners and veterans alike. They can even restore contemporary and antique tables to their former glory, or build an entirely new one, all to your unique specifications.

Fancy a Snooker Table in Santa’s Sack but Don’t Have the Room?  Introducing Convertible Snooker Dining Tables

If you’re working on a limited budget, buying a second-hand table and having them restore it can be a cost-effective way of having your own personal snooker outlet. For more information on Hamilton Billiards’ table restoration, see this article on Snooker HQ

You’d be surprised at how many hours you can spend in friendly competition with your loved ones, as well as how much the game can grow on you if played in a relaxed environment. Give your family a gift they can all enjoy this Christmas – an economical games room. 

This article was written by David Newman, owner of Ad Lab – eCommerce digital marketing specialists. David is a frequent contributor to a variety of lifestyle blogs, and enjoys writing about sports, hobbies and travel topics.


Hiding Those Holiday Presents Away From Prying Eyes

So, we’re finally amidst the festive season! This can mean a whole lot of different things for different people. Perhaps it means overtime at work. Maybe it means catching up more with your family, friends, and other loved ones. But for many of us, it entails something altogether exciting and secretive: present shopping! There’s such a thrill when it comes to seeking out the perfect gifts for those we hold dearest. But considering the majority of us don’t hand over our neatly packed treasures until the 25th, this can mean we end up with piles of gifts lying about in plain sight. So, to avoid having your space clogged up with boxes and wrap, and removing the surprises from the prying eyes of adults and little ones alike, here are a few ideas on how to hide them away!

Self Storage

Perhaps the best, easiest, most convenient, and most reliable technique of hiding gifts away is self storage. Any parent will know that most kids will really be on the hunt for what might be lying in wait for them. Plus, they’re generally not at school during the holiday season, which means more time for them to start rustling through every nook and cranny in your home. Self-storage gives you a convenient way to keep your gifts safe under lock and key but away from your immediate home. Choose something local, so you don’t have to traipse too far back and forth while dropping off new gifts to the collection. Smaller spaces are available: you don’t necessarily need to hire out a warehouse. Then you can head on over on Christmas Eve and pick everything up ready to be tucked beneath the tree. You’ll really play the part of Santa himself with your own delivery service!

PO Box

Many of us do online shopping. This means that packages can be delivered directly to our home address which is extremely convenient at most times of the year. However, you might not be home at all times which can mean missing parcels that are too large to get through the letterbox or have signed delivery. Potentially worse, the recipient of the gift inside the parcel could be home and collect it. Most brands now mark their packaging distinctively nowadays, so this could give up the surprise! A good fix to this is to open yourself a PO box for a short period of time. You can have your parcels delivered here and then pick them all up in one fell swoop without the game being given away. This will cost you a little, but it’s definitely worth it if you’re living with people who are going to be given the gifts you are having delivered. It also prevents missed parcels from being returned to the sender and you having to cough up extra delivery or parcels re-arriving after the 25th.

Use Your Attic

Usually the attic is filled with, well, mainly, decorations. Sure there may be a few other bits and bobs up there. But once you’ve got the tree, ornaments, decorations, festive kitchenware and the rest of your holiday miscellania out, chances are that there’s a whole lot of free space up there. So make use of it! Make life as simple and safe as possible for yourself by installing a permanent ladder going up into your loft. Specialist designs can easily be pulled down and put back up after use. This prevents you having to strain yourself pulling yourself up and down, or having to call the help of a particularly tall person to pop things in and out. It also means you can arrange gifts properly, rather than flinging them in and hoping for the best. This, of course, could potentially result in damage to the gifts or a tarnishing of their wrapping. What’s perhaps best? If you’ve wrapped up chocolates, the attic space is generally pretty chilly, which means they will be kept in good condition. Too many times, people have left a wrapped box of chocolates a little too close to the radiator, only for them to melt and this is left undiscovered until they are opened. Just remember that any foodstuffs that require refrigeration should be left just there: the refrigerator.

These are just three options that you have at hand. You may be a whizz at hiding boxes and toys in your own home, but for the majority of us, keeping things outside of the main body of the house is perhaps the easiest and most reliable way to go.

4 Ways to Help a Child Deal With Change and Stress

Change is a part of life, but the first major change in a child’s life can come as a huge shock. The way a child responds to and deals with the first big change can lead the way in how he responds to all the other kinds of change in his life. So, as parents, the more tools we can give our children to handle change and stress, the better. Here are four ways you can help your child.

4 Ways to Help a Child Deal With Change and Stress
Photo Credit : Pixabay

Sit and Talk

The worst thing you can do is let change happen without giving your child any prior warning. No matter how old they are, sit them down and explain as best as you can. It gives the idea time to sink in and your child time to ask you questions. By asking questions, you’ll be able to put some of your child’s fears to rest, instead of letting them stew on their own worst imaginations. Be as open as you can about the change and keep the lines of communication open as the change happens. It can also help to get your child involved. For example, if you’re moving home, your child may want a say in which room will be his.

Keep Thing Familiar

We all have our comfort zones, and for a child it’s important that there are a few familiar things around when change happens. For example, for a family going through divorce, it could be better for the children to continue living in the same place. The familiarity of their own space and their own home will be a comfort during a difficult time. Parents should also consider using Austin Kemp Divorce Solicitors to ensure everything runs smoothly and is settled as quickly as possible. The longer it takes, the more strain is put on your children.

Expect Some Bad Behavior

It’s normal for children to act out while change is happening. Young children especially, don’t have the emotional maturity to handle what they’re feeling, and often resort to bad behavior or aggression to express themselves. In toddlers, you may find that they regress for a while. For example, a toddler that has been toilet trained for a while, may go back to having a few accidents. Many parents find that these behaviors are temporary and some patience and good will towards your child will help you all through it.

4 Ways to Help a Child Deal With Change and Stress
Photo Credit : Pixabay

Encourage Your Child to Grieve

The grieving process can take place during a lot of different situations, including moving home, divorce and a change of schools. However, grieving is never more important than after the death of a family member or pet. People grieve differently, so it’s difficult to tell how your child should be behaving. Offer as much support as possible and talk to your child if they’re open to it. If the family member was close, like a sibling or parent, some children can benefit from counselling sessions to avoid symptoms of depression or withdrawal developing.

Helping a child with change isn’t an exact science, but your support will mean they come through it quicker.

Safeguard Your Home This Christmas with Fire Safety Tips from Ironmongery Experts

Safeguard Your Home This Christmas with Fire Safety Tips from Ironmongery Experts

The recent cold snap has already seen several parts of the UK affected by snowy conditions and freezing temperatures, giving a small sample of the bitter winter ahead. Whether you relish the oncoming frost or would much rather hibernate for the next few months, there are a few things to keep in mind regarding fire safety.

Firstly, like most people you’re probably going to use central heating when it really gets chilly. Alternatives can be more energy efficient, like electric heaters and wood burners, but no matter which method you use to heat your property, it’s important to be aware of the increased fire risk associated with the colder months of the year; a comprehensive list of dos and don’ts can be found on the National Fire Protection Association website, since fire safety should always be taken seriously.

Safeguard Your Home This Christmas with Fire Safety Tips from Ironmongery ExpertsAnything that is capable of burning should be kept at least 3 feet from any source of heat at all times, and your smoke alarms should be tested no less than once a month. Refrain from using an oven to heat your home, and make sure all fires, heaters and electric blankets are off before heading to bed. 

The kitchen can be hazardous too, so ensure you don’t attempt to cook if you’re sleepy or if you’ve had a little too much to drink – you’ll be putting your family’s wellbeing at risk if you doze off or forget about the stove. You can find even more fire safety tips on if you’d like to research the topic in more detail.

Safeguard Your Home This Christmas with Fire Safety Tips from Ironmongery Experts
An effective method of safeguarding yourself in the event of a fire is through the use of Dorgard fire door retainers from Ironmongery Experts. Designed to automatically close the door they’re connected to upon the activation of the smoke alarm, these easy to install devices have contributed to the preservation of many lives since their conception. Since they’re battery operated, they won’t fail even if there’s a power outage, and they’re sturdy enough to continue functioning through heat, cold and moisture.

Give your family the greatest gift of all this Christmas – security and peace of mind. 

This article was written by David Newman, managing director of Ad Lab – Magento E-Commerce Growth Specialists. David has a keen interest in lifestyle blogs, and regularly contributes to topics regarding travel and safety.

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