When I was about 14 I spent a lot of time lying on my bed, (which for a while was a mattress on the floor because I was bohemian like that and too cool for a bed), staring at my face in a mirror. Already at that age I realised that lying on your back was a flattering angle – a bit like a facelift, only less painful. It’s the same with legs – they look better when you lie down and stick them in the air because the fat falls backwards and doesn’t hang over your knees.

I’m 40 next year and I must admit that the prospect of examining my face close up in a mirror feels somewhat less appealing now. I’m not going to say ‘Oh my God, I look so old!’ or anything annoying like that because I think we both know that I don’t particularly, but just over the last year I have started to notice changes. My hair has started to dry out, my tummy is round even when I’m lying on my back, the fat around my elbows is squishier and the skin on my face is definitely looser.

I notice it most around my jawline. I’ve always had a decent jawline, but over the last 12 months it has noticeably softened and I’ve started to get a little pouchy bit under my chin. I can feel the softness under my jaw and up to my ears – I feel like I can pull my skin up behind my ears a little bit and get a squishy area around my earlobes that wasn’t there before. My skin tone isn’t as even as it once was either.

This is me, under harsh light, no editing. So basically how I look every day.

(Try not to look at the eyebrows.)

Boots No7 lift and luminate range

Boots No7 lift and luminate range

View Post

Sponsored post

I’m a sucker for a self-help book.

I have a big stack of them at home and generally I find the messages really positive, if not exactly life-changing. I dip into them every so often as a reminder to do the basic stuff like think positive thoughts and let go of negative emotions. It’s a bit like having a session with a life coach, only cheaper. A lot of it is the same – love yourself, forgive others, embrace fear – nothing revolutionary, but nothing controversial either.

That’s what I thought at least, until I got to a particular paragraph in my latest read, a Christmas present that I put on my Amazon wish list because I do quite want to be a badass and live an awesome life. 

You are a badass

I was over half way through the book and I’d not come across anything I disagreed with, apart from the God references, but I just ignore those. I may not be a God fan but each to their own. There was one particular paragraph though that I couldn’t ignore.

It was a paragraph in a section about the stories we tell ourselves and how they hold us back. Some examples included seeing yourself as the sort of person who always fails at relationships, or who is bad with money. There aren’t really no decent men out there, but we kind of fool ourselves into believing it so we don’t have to blame ourselves when it goes wrong. 

Sure, I get that.

But then…

‘We pretty much don’t ever do anything that we don’t benefit from in some way…’ says Jen Sincero. ‘If you’re perpetuating something dismal in your life because of some dopey story, there’s definitely something about it that you’re getting off on.

‘Let’s say, for example, that your story is that you’re depressed. Chances are pretty good that even though it feels awful, when you feel awful you don’t have to work hard or do the laundry or go to the gym. It feels very familiar and cosy and comfortable. It gets you attention. People come in and check on you and sometimes bring you food. It allows you to not try too hard…’

Um, hello?!

Depression is not a spa Jen Sincero. View Post

It’s been quite a while since Belle and I took a trip to London. We never quite got round to going to look at the Christmas lights and now that Bee has graduated and moved out of London we have even less reason to visit.

We were very much looking forward then to our weekend stay at the Royal Garden Hotel on Kensington High Street, London.

Can you see how excited we are? 

review Royal Garden Hotel London

We set off after school on Friday, catching the train from Taunton. To get to London Paddington takes less than two hours and the Royal Garden Hotel is not far at all from the station. As well as being handy for Paddington, The Royal Garden Hotel is in a prime spot for family sightseeing. You’ve got Kensington Palace for a bit of casual royal baby spotting, a huge park for kids to run around, and then loads of fantastic museums all within walking distance. The Science Museum is a must if you’ve never been before, and is less than 20 minutes walk away from the hotel.

This should give you an idea of exactly where we were and what was close by:

review Royal Garden Hotel London View Post

Disclosure - we stayed at the Royal Garden Hotel as guests for the weekend for the purposes of this review. All opinions are my own.

This is post was created in partnership with Monopoly and Hasbro.

It’s all kicking off online at the moment.

I’m not talking Trump or Brexit, this is a properly serious issue – Monopoly pieces. Monopoly has announced that it’s updating its pieces and the world has gone into turmoil. What’s your favourite Monopoly piece? What do you want to save? How do you feel about the idea of a hashtag replacing the Scottie dog??

It’s token madness!

It’s fine though, because you can do something to save your favourite Monopoly piece. You just have to visit the Monopoly voting site and pick your favourites.

WE CAN MAKE THIS OKAY.

new Monopoly pieces vote

When I was little, we used to spend quite a bit of time with my Gran and Grandad – my mum’s parents. Whenever we were there, I had one thing in mind – I wanted to get my Grandad on his own so we could play games. My mum and my Gran normally wanted to go out somewhere for a drive or to look at the shops and I would wait, twitching, while they decided what they were going to do.

My very favourite times were when they said things like ‘we might be out for quite a long time though, are you sure that you and Grandad will be alright on your own?’

Er… yes?

We had the cupboard full of games in the spare bedroom and a kitchen well stocked with tins of beans and sausages, we’d have been okay for months.

Once everyone had gone, or sometimes before if I was excited and wanted to drop the hint that I’d like everyone out of the house as soon as possible, I’d go up to the spare bedroom cupboard to choose my games. 

My Grandad was a man of endless patience and he would pretty much play anything I wanted for as long as I wanted. The only game that gave him a little bit of a twitch was a horse racing game called Totopoly. I don’t know if you’ve ever played it, but my Grandad’s 1960s version had metal horses that each stood on a very narrow base. They were an absolute nightmare to keep upright and we’d not go a game without one of us accidentally nudging the table, knocking all of the horses onto their sides.

Our two favourite games were cards and Monopoly. My Grandad had big, smooth, dry hands, and I can hear him now, rubbing his hands together, getting ready to slowly, neatly, shuffle and deal a hand of rummy. 

Monopoly I loved because it just felt so epic. I play it now, as a grown up, and it lasts a normal length of time, but when I was little it seemed to last for hours. It was probably partly because of how carefully and deliberately my Grandad did everything – there was no rushing in our games of Monopoly.

Which is the best Monopoly token vote

Most games we played by the rules but in Monopoly we had a special rule, just for us, where we agreed to deal ourselves out extra money once we’d bought all the properties. This used to give us both a bit of a boost and probably accounts for the length of the games too.

One of the crucial elements of Monopoly of course is the pieces. My Grandad was always the car. He called it ‘the motorcar’, and would drive it carefully from street to street. I was always to boot. I liked the way you could sort of tip tap it around the board by holding onto the little tag at the back. It had a nice rhythm to it, like I could skip my way over hotels and onto tax rebate squares whenever I wanted.

Which is the best Monopoly token vote

I couldn’t bear the thought of Monopoly without the boot, so I just had to go and vote. 

Monopoly really has gone mad. As well as the option to save your existing favourites, there are all kinds of crazy new ideas, including emojis?! 

Monopoly pieces vote

Belle and I had a look at the options together. I had to save the motorcar and the boot obviously, in case my Grandad ever wants a game. I mean sure, he died nearly ten years ago, but you never know.

Then, because we’re not afraid to embrace some change, we picked a selection of new pieces that we thought were cute.

Monopoly piece vote

I picked a penguin because I thought Bee would like to be the penguin if she ever played with us, and we chose the dinosaur for my nephew Finn. The trumpet is for fiancé because he works in music, and the pocket watch I liked because it felt Monopoly-ish. (I can’t explain it better than that – it just felt right.) Our other two choices were sliced bread and a bunny slipper. Just because.

If you want to save your favourite Monopoly piece or help to choose some new ones, then go and have a look now and cast your vote.

Please, please choose to save the boot and the motorcar. I will be your best friend forever, I promise.

Which is the best Monopoly token vote

 

January blues, post-Christmas depression, SAD, Blue Monday – whatever you call it, January is a bit crap isn’t it? It’s light for about 47 minutes a day, you’re broke and tired… I know what you need!

A competition!

This competition comes courtesy of the lovely people at Get Fruity. January isn’t crap for them – they’re celebrating because they’ve just started selling their Cornish made fruity oat bars in Tesco.

Hoorah!

I’ve been munching my way through a couple of their mixed boxes over the last few weeks and they really are tasty. Get Fruity bars are made with fruit, oats and virgin coconut oil, contain absolutely no refined sugars, and are gluten free, dairy free and vegan certified. They have really interesting flavours too, like juicy apricot, orange and ginger.

Basically they’re pretty ace. 

Because they’re so tasty and wholesome, they’re perfect for packed lunches. With this in mind, Get Fruity have put together a fantastic prize bundle, consisting of a month’s supply of their mixed boxes, a choice of either a Frozen or an Avengers lunch box and drinks bottle, and a £50 voucher to spend at one of their stockists – either Ocado, Waitrose or Tesco – it’s up to you which you’d prefer.

Get Fruity bars View Post

Sponsored post.

I have a gadget to show you today!

You know how lots of blogs show off fancy things like iPads and remote control helicopters? Well, it’s sort of like that. Only not. 

Today I want to introduce you to Innovo. You might remember Innovo from when I talked about it here a couple of months ago? Innovo is a totally non-invasive way to strengthen your pelvic floor muscles and treat cause of urinary leaks, rather than just covering them up. Stress incontinence is something that a lot of people are too embarrassed to talk about, but it’s definitely not something you should just have to accept.

This post is the first in a series where I’m going to be properly putting Innovo through its paces, checking in at intervals to tell you about my progress and the changes I’m noticing. I don’t want to just give you the theory – I want to give you a thorough, honest review, so that if you do want to do something about your pelvic floor, you have all the information you need about Innovo to invest with confidence.

(That sounded very serious didn’t it? I promise to make wee gags too. You have to laugh at stuff remember? You just want to be able to laugh without wetting yourself.)

In this post then, I just want to show you exactly what’s involved, what you can expect if you choose to try Innovotherapy for yourself, and to give you a bit of background into the technology. 

Let’s get the science out of the way before I get my thighs out shall we? View Post

Sponsored post.

Do you remember back in the summer me talking about Simples, the new online insurance tool from Compare the Market?

No, I didn’t think you would. Honestly, it’s like you’re not even paying attention. 

Anyway.

The product is still in beta, but it’s had quite a few updates since the summer, so I wanted just to remind you about it and let you know how to sign up, if you haven’t already. (Which I’m sure you did the moment you finished reading my first post?)

What is Simples?

Simples is a bit like a smart online filing cabinet. It’s somewhere to store all of your insurance documents so that you can be reminded when they are due for renewal and easily access key policy information. If you’re anything like me, you just sign up for the second cheapest (my life philosophy) and then totally forget how much you paid, what you’re insured for and where you put the documents.

You have the option to set reminders so that you remember to get quotes when your policies are coming up for renewal, plus you can text Simples with any straightforward questions you might have if for any reason you don’t have access to the site or need a super quick response.

So what’s new?

Simples has added quite a few new features since I last reviewed it, which now makes it even simpler to use, with more support for different types of insurance product. This was one of the points raised by the bloggers who got together in the summer – we were keen to see more types of insurance included.  View Post

Sponsored post.