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In case you’re thinking ‘low alcohol wine – what even IS that and also WHY?’ then stay with me for a second.

I like a glass of wine as much as the next 40 year old single parent who sometimes wonders about the practicalities of dying alone in a house full of cats, but I don’t always get the opportunity to have a drink whenever I want. Belle hasn’t learnt to drive yet – roll on August – and because I’m the only grown up, anytime we go anywhere it means I’m in charge of the car.

I’ve also heard that there are people who actually just don’t ENJOY drinking all the time. It seems unlikely, but apparently it’s true.

Seriously though, I am joking (a bit) because the older I get, the less I seem to be able to tolerate alcohol. What I DO like though is the whole ritual of opening a bottle and pouring a glass of something. Chinking glasses with a friend in a sunny garden, feeling your shoulders drop that little bit. All of that is just NICE isn’t it?

Alcohol free wines though, or drinks claiming to be alternatives, are often a bit disappointing. I’ve tried drinks called things like ‘Chardonnay without the hangover’ and they are really NOT. Some alcohol free beers are okay, others taste like week old sandwiches.

I was interested then to give the new Black Tower Deliciously Light range a try.

Black Tower Deliciously Light review View Post

I have a love hate relationship with Tinder.

A lot of the time I don’t use it at all, because of all the skydive pictures, and then other times I have vulnerable moments like this where I worry briefly that I might die alone, surrounded by cats, and Tinder is my only way out:

While I’ve never had any truly horrible experiences on Tinder, I’ve also never had any amazing ones. I’ve had a LOT of perfectly pleasant first dates, but very rarely a second one. I was fiendishly seduced by one man who played a game where he pretended to interview me for Desert Island Discs, only to say ‘by the way I should probably tell you I’m not looking for a relationship’,* but most of the time it’s just me swiping left past endless pictures of men who look so sad that you wonder if they have set up a Tinder profile as an alternative to suicide.

I have been doing a bit of swiping lately, to pass the time, and have become increasingly aware of just how similar everyone is in terms of the frankly bizarre pictures they post and the tedious things they say in their profiles. It astounds me that a grown man can decide he wants to impress a woman, and think that a selfie in the mirror of a public toilet, complete with background urinal, is going to be the money shot.

‘When she’s sees this she’s going to be putty in my hands,’ he thinks to himself, content with the fact that you can’t really see his face but CAN see a large toilet cistern.

And the fish! So many fish!

To make the process of finding a match on Tinder slightly less hideous, I have made you a Tinder bingo. It should help to pass the time at least – a distraction from the thought the only men left in the world are permanently sat astride motorbikes, wearing helmets. Why not share it with your single friends, or invite people round for dinner and play competitively? Perhaps do shots every time you complete a row? The toilet selfies might seem more appealing by the time you’ve completed your card.

I would also be interested in particularly on brand screenshots.

Tinder bingo

And yes, I know this is cynical and bitchy and all these men are PEOPLE blah blah blah, but come on guys, make an effort.

Are you a Tinder user? What would you petition to have added to the bingo card? Perhaps you’re a man and are sick of women hiding behind Snapchat filters?

Leave a comment and let me know!

*I mention him because we are still friends and it might make him feel important.

If you’ve ever been to a festival you might recognise this scenario:

It’s a month before the festival and you get an email. ‘We’ve announced the dressing up theme!’ the festival organisers tell you. ‘This year it’s post-apocalypse Alice in Wonderland/1970s disco mermaid/pansexual party pirates!’ (Delete as appropriate.)

Excellent.

You set to work on your costume – gluing scales to your sparkly tights, fashioning a hat made entirely from cucumbers, whatever. You’re proud of your look, you’ve nailed it, you’re ready to go and FESTIVALISE.

Nozstock festival

Image courtesy of Nozstock festival

Then you get there and it pisses down with rain and no one sees your hand-sequinned pirate blouse because you have to spend the whole time in a large waterproof mac.

Sad face. View Post

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easy mint rack of lamb recipe

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You heard me, Game of Thrones.

I have to say that the brief to create a ‘lamb recipe to tie in with the new series of Game of Thrones‘ presented a bit of a challenge to me initially, as I’ve never even seen an episode of Game of Thrones, not even five minutes of it. When I read ‘Game of Thrones’ then, my first thought was ‘sexy dwarfs’. I have no idea if there even are any dwarfs in it. The sexy bit I think was just because I’ve heard there’s a fair amount of nudity.

I asked around, and was given clues that mentioned brutal violence, murder and dragons.

I still wasn’t really feeling the lambiness.

The ‘Lamb. Try It, Love It’ campaign is all about making you think differently about lamb though, and I was definitely doing that.

I remembered a few years ago how we’d gone to Northern Ireland to tick ‘visit the Dark Hedges‘ off my list of 40 things to do before 40. The Dark Hedges is a country road in the middle of nowhere, where massive trees have grown over the road and intertwined to make a tree tunnel. Tree tunnels are one of my best things, and when I’d seen a picture of this one in a magazine a few years earlier I knew I wanted to see it in real life.

What I didn’t know when I visited was that The Dark Hedges was actually used as a location for some of the action in Game of Thrones.

Here at last was my way in!

I looked back at the photos, and an idea started to form in my mind… View Post

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Favourite Haribo Starmix

One of my fondest memories of Belle as a child was the time, about ten years ago, when she found a cola bottle in a mini bag of HARIBO Gold Bears. Belle is the kind of person who likes everything JUST SO, so whereas a more typical child might not even notice, or just think ‘oh a cola bottle’ and eat it anyway, Belle decided that she needed to take action.

She was still surfing the wave of justice from having recently received a £2 voucher from Walkers because of finding a crisp that was ‘a bit funny looking’, so she was confident that she could make cola-bottle-gate work in her favour. She took photographs, sent them to HARIBO with a stern note, and a couple of weeks later was rewarded with an apology and a large packet of Starmix.

Her work was done. Justice was served.

HOWEVER…

If you find something you’re not expecting in a packet of HARIBO over the next few weeks, don’t be too quick to trade it in for a second bag of sweets, as it could be your ticket to a luxury UK family break with Forest Holidays. View Post

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Homemade vegan hot cross bun recipe

Check me out reflected in the knife – I’m such a super pro food photographer.

This post is a bit of a double win. Not only do you get to discover how to make your own vegan hot cross buns, but further down the post there’s the chance to win £50 of Asda vouchers, plus a load of goodies from Planted, so you can buy everything you need to make your own vegan hot cross buns.

(Or just spend it on 100 packets of Asda’s own hot cross buns, I’m not here to judge.)

Regular hot cross buns normally use milk in the recipe, so I switched this for Planted’s coconut drink with cocoa. Instead of butter I used vegetable oil and I used apple puree as a substitute for a beaten egg. The cocoa in the Planted drink gives the hot cross buns a subtle chocolate edge, but you could ramp this up by adding chocolate chips if you wanted.

Be warned – they do take a while because of the proving. I’d say these hot cross buns are a good Sunday activity. Get the Archers Omnibus on and potter about between stages doing jobs like washing the bin and trimming dead bits off the houseplants. (I actually love those kind of Sundays.) View Post