Win a bundle of Ecover goodies, worth £50 + my thoughts on the new Ecover washing up liquid

When I meet people in person, a lot of them ask me why I have ‘slummy’ in my blog name. I expect they are disappointed that I don’t have bits of scrambled egg in my hair, or odd shoes on, or something like that.

True story as a quick aside – I did actually wear odd shoes out the other day. In fact, I had actually bought odd shoes, not noticing that one was a matt orange colour and the other a shiny red. It’s because I mainly looked at them through Instagram filters rather than in real life, and it was confusing.

Can you tell?? View Full Post

Beauty and the Beast party with Sky Movies #MovieParty

Not content with reducing my fiancé to a gibbering wreck by introducing him to One Born Every Minute, we also made him watch Beauty and the Beast this week. He prefers films and TV programmes which are ‘happy all the way through’, and finds the scary scenes in Disney films a little too much. We took care of him though, and distracted him with cocktail sausages, and all was well.

Beauty and the Beast party

The party was a bit of a belated birthday party for Belle, who turned 13 while we were on holiday, and seriously, with a name like Belle I could hardly go with a Pocahontas theme could I? We’d done some thinking about a Beauty and the Beast themed party already, and Sky Movies very kindly sent us a big box full of Princess swag, so we were set.  View Full Post

Designing my dream home + up to 40% off new windows, doors and conservatories

I’ve never owned my own house. It’s probably a good thing if my attitude to car maintenance is anything to go by. (Think strategically placed satsuma, covering engine warning light.)

Sometimes though I do think about what I might do if I was lady of my own manor. Obviously the first thing I would do would be to install a secret door, disguised as a bookcase, but that’s a given. I’d have a spiral staircase too, and big floor to ceiling windows, looking out on one side over London and on the other over the French coast. (This is a fantasy remember.) View Full Post

An interview with Lucy Spraggan at Standon Calling festival

Before we went off on our road trip around Ireland, we headed over for the weekend to Standon Calling festival. It was a little different from the festivals we’ve been to before, and probably not the very best sort of festival to choose for families, but if you like having the odd pint or ten, dancing until (literally) dawn, and then stumbling back to the festival site around midday, it’s definitely worth checking out for next year.

The festival has grown over ten years from what was essentially a house party, and they’ve managed to maintain the ‘dude, what did we do last night?’ vibe at the same time as growing the event into something commercial. There was plenty of tasty food to be eaten, a cool wild west themed centre and an innovative cashless payment system that made things really simple.

While we were there, we had a chat with Lucy Spraggan – you know, the one off of X-Factor? She was dead friendly, and really happy to talk to us about life on the road, the highs and lows of a touring lifestyle, and her new independent record label.

Check it out here:

      An interview with Lucy Spraggan

And prove, if any was needed, in the form of a quick snap with me, looking about as un rock and roll as it is possible to look, in my fleece and shoulder bag, next to rock chick Lucy. View Full Post

Round Ireland in a Bailey motorhome – how it feels to be on the road

You’ll be reading this once I’m back, but I’m actually writing this eight days into our two week long trip around Ireland in a Bailey motorhome. I’ve been trying really hard to write things down every day so that I don’t forget the outings, the campsites and the funny things Belle says, because I want to be able to tell you all about our trip and where we’ve been.

I will do this, I promise, but first, something else.

Walking back to the van just now from the toilet block, with the sound of gravel crunching under my feet, I had a sudden desire instead to try to explain how it feels, rather than just giving you a diary of events. I want you to imagine yourself doing the same, and how relaxed you are, rather than just picking up some caravan park tips.

I’ve been on plenty of caravan holidays as a child, and nostalgia certainly plays a big part, but there is something else, something about the mobility and the freedom that it gives you. It’s about rhythms and routines too; before we left I packs a big box of magazines, pens and games, not sure how we would pass the time, but apart from Monopoly cards, (which are a genius invention), the box remains untouched, stashed away under the bed. Instead, daily routines become relaxing rituals – filling the kettle with water, hunting for the teabags, setting your mug on the steps of the motorhome, looking out across an ever changing landscape of mountains and coastline – that’s an adventure in itself.

Time slows. View Full Post

5 bad marriage proposal videos on YouTube that make you hope the girl says no

A guest post from my clearly emotionally damaged daughter Bee. Opps.

People always assume that I am from my personality, but I’m not a romantic person. This could be for a number of reasons.

1) Being in love is effort that I just don’t have time for.

2) As I so bluntly put it to my therapist once, “I’m not bothering, because I’ve never seen a successful relationship before, so why the hell should I try? I could be going to the post office or something useful rather than gazing into someone’s eyes who I am inevitably going to end up despising.”

Anyway.

I’m not totally cynical, it’s not that I don’t love people. I love my friends and family. I love Paul Rudd. I just can’t stand any kind of romantic mush, whether it’s idiots on my Facebook timeline, people kissing on the street, (get the hell out of my way), or slightly boring men who think they can whip up a ‘romantic’ and ‘original’ proposal to sweep their equally dull girlfriend off her feet.

This morning I was watching marriage proposal videos on YouTube (as you do) and found some totally cringe proposals that had me chanting “say NO, say NO!” like the lovely person I am. Here are some of the videos where I wanted to actively run in and stop it from happening, Hollyoaks style. View Full Post

Top tips for choosing wines for your wedding

A guest post from my fiancé, as he knows much more about wine than me.

wedding wines

Now, no sniggering at the back, please – if I ask you what you think of when you think of the morning after a wedding reception, what springs to mind? The DJ was rubbish? Who managed to get gravy on my jacket? Who was it that I promised to give piano lessons to for free? Maybe that’s just me.

All of the above thoughts are probably coupled with a hangover, at varying levels of severity and intensity. Drink is a big part of weddings, and given that weddings are now more a test of endurance for guests than a short afternoon out, getting your wines right, and more importantly, getting them to match your budget, is key. Every wedding has guests with unquenchable thirsts, or ‘professional drinkers’, and we’re starting to think about how to keep them running like well oiled machines at our reception. View Full Post

Help create homes for the birds and the bees with the RSPB – #CharityTuesday

We’ve focussed a lot over the last few weeks on children and young people, so today’s #CharityTuesday post is about animals. I’ve been speaking to Adrian Thomas, who works to inspire people to give nature a home in their gardens, about the work of the RSPB.

RSPB

Credit – Eleanor Bentall (rspb-images.com)

So, what’s the problem?

Nature is having a tough time of it. Hedgehogs, skylarks, wildflower meadows, even the ‘common and garden’ sparrow and starling are all disappearing fast. I‘ve been involved with nature conservation for 30 years now, and I’ve seen the changes first hand and they’re frightening. The State of Nature report, launched by Sir David Attenborough, found that 60% of British wildlife is in decline, and with more and more people using more and more resources, the outlook doesn’t look good.

The natural world is vital to us; it makes up the complex webs of life on which we and our planet depend, and I believe it enriches our lives too, so we have to look after it. View Full Post

BMW 2 Series Gran Tourer – a boy’s eye review

Following on from my girl’s eye review of the BMW 2 Series Gran Tourer last week, here’s my fiancé with his thoughts…

I’ve always rather liked BMWs.

As a child in the 1980s they epitomised to me the idea of what you drove if you were successful. A family friend had a BMW that was immaculate and it felt like you were being chauffeur driven when you were in it. Then, James Bond had some fun in a Z3 in Goldeneye and I obsessed with wanting one. I was gutted when as a 20 year old I asked my Dad if he’d buy me one if he one the lottery. “Nope” he answered. “You would wrap it around a tree.”

And that was the end of that. An old lady we knew gave me her Peugeot 106 when she became too old to drive and I was happy with my lot. It was an automatic, and whilst, like its former owner, it was senior in years, and its white paint had become faded and rusty, the fridge, (as she was affectionately known), did me well until a door fell off on the south circular and I paid a scrap man to take her away. View Full Post

8 ideas for a Beauty and the Beast themed party

Beauty and the beast partyThe beauty of having a daughter called Belle is that, when it comes to Disney princess related gifts or themes, you’re never in two minds about which to go for.

Cinderella of course!

Only kidding.

I couldn’t have a Disney Princess themed birthday party for Belle and not make it Beauty and the Beast now could I? You might think that turning 13 makes you a bit old for a Beauty and the Beast party, but I say you’re never too old to feel like a princess. Ever.

*adjusts tiara whilst typing*

It ties in rather nicely too with the Sky Movies competition we’re running at the moment, as we can either have the film running in the background, or save it for when things get a little frantic and I’m looking for an excuse to get everyone sat down quietly. (I.e. five minutes after the guests arrive.) Sky also very kindly sent us a big trunk full of Beauty and the Beast themed goodies, to help us get the movie party started, with everything from a popcorn maker to princess tiaras. 

beauty and the beast

Given the number of characters in Beauty and the Beast who are based on items of crockery, a tea party feels like the obvious theme, and luckily old floral cups and saucers are ten a penny in charity shops. To help inspire you, here are eight of my very best ideas for a Beauty and the Beast themed party: View Full Post