I’m not going to lie, this week has been a toughie. Not least because we’ve been taking part in a challenge set by Robinsons, as part of Nutrition and Hydration Week, to get Belle to drink more.

As I described in my introductory post about the challenge, Belle is not naturally drawn to water as a concept. I’m not sure whether she just forgets, or whether the tap feels just too far away at 14 years old? I had one comment on the first post that made me laugh a lot, and which does sound a bit like Belle:

‘I vividly remember being in my early teens at school,’ commented Alice, ‘and not wanting to drink loads because I couldn’t be bothered to go to the toilet!’


I can totally imagine that. I don’t remember my school toilets exactly being a thing of luxury. Plus at school you kind of want to avoid doing anything that draws attention to yourself, like putting your hand up in class to ask to go to the loo, so that could be a factor too. Whatever the reasons behind it, Belle doesn’t drink enough. I want this to change, and so does Robinsons. Hence the challenge.

Robinson's Squash'd

Belle last week, looking intrigued as to what her hydration challenge might entail…

So, after our week of trying to get Belle to drink more, what have we learnt? What top tips do we have to help you get your teenagers to drink more? Has Robinsons Squash’d helped Belle to drink more and, if so, has that changed how she feels?

Read on my intrigued chums…


1. Get yourself some Robinsons Squash’d

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Before we start, I know that actually I should be calling it Mothering Sunday, but it really annoys Fiancé when I call it Mother’s Day, and so now I do it deliberately, just because that’s the sort of annoying, belligerent girlfriend I am.

(Also, I think that’s the first time I’ve ever typed the word belligerent, which is nice, because it’s good to try new things.)

Mother’s Day then. What do you normally buy your mum for Mother’s Day? Now that we’re grown ups we can’t get away with glueing some dry macaroni and glitter to a piece of card and calling it art, so if you’re anything like me, it will be something from this list:

  • A card – one that doesn’t scream ‘I just went to the supermarket this morning and this was all they had’. (A couple of years ago I got my mum a card that said ‘Best Mum in Somerset’, which I think she appreciated.)
  • Chocolates – mid-range, unless you went SUPER FANCY and made the effort to go to Hotel Chocolat. (Get you, trying to make the rest of us look bad.)
  • Flowers – small bunch of.
  • A homemade ‘cheese stew’ – I received this rather than gave it. If you’re intrigued, you can read more about it in this article I wrote recently for Prima Magazine.

Not a very inspiring list is it? (Apart from the cheese stew.) Sorry Mum.

cheese platter

Just getting my ingredients ready to make my Mothers’ Day gift.

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I’ve been very lucky as a parent that I’ve never had to take either of my children to A&E. They have been to the minor injuries unit a few times, but never for anything serious.

The first time I had to take Belle was when she was about seven years old. She had a friend over to play after school and they were busy in another room. Suddenly I heard this SCREAMING. Proper loud screaming that I’d never heard from Belle before. She was reluctant to tell me at first what the matter was, but it turned out that she had been experimenting with putting pieces of orange peel into her ear (?!) and a piece had got stuck. The more she tried to get it out, the further in it went, until it had became so painful that her only option was to scream until I came and sorted it out.

I couldn’t reach it, so we ended up going to the hospital. I had to sit her on my lap and hold her head still while the doctor fished about with some very long tweezers. It was actually a pretty horrible moment for me, as she was clearly in a lot of pain, and I was there, basically having to hold her in a headlock. Her ear bled a little as they got it out, but she as fine, and we all lived happily ever after. (The friend never came for tea again.)

Belle has had other problems with her ears over the years, and when she was only about four years old she actually had them syringed by the GP as she had a build up of wax. I don’t think doctors really like to syringe ears any more, so the next time she had the same problem we were referred to the hospital for ‘manual wax removal’. Sexy times. Unfortunately, about a week before our appointment, we had a letter saying that they didn’t have the budget for the procedure any more and so there we were, back to square one.

(Isn’t this just the most glamorous blog post you’ve ever read?) View Post


cures for a cold

I don’t know about you, but it feels like we’ve had about 27 colds between us already this year. Yucky ones too – proper colds that leave you feeling grotty and exhausted and like it’s almost too much effort to reach for the remote control. It’s not much fun.

A cold can leave you feeling seriously sorry for yourself. I tend to go as far as actually sticking my bottom lip out and trying to widen my eyes when I look at people, to extract maximum sympathy when I whine pathetically ‘I don’t feeeeeel very welllll.’

It’s a sorry sight.

Just in case you’re in a similar predicament, I’ve put together a list of nine nice things you can do for yourself when you have a cold that will help you feel not quite so awful as you otherwise might.


Accept that you have a cold. This is tricky because we all like to soldier on don’t we? It’s like there’s glory in working even harder than normal, to prove you’re somehow much more capable than everyone else. Accept that you have a cold, be kind to yourself and lower your expectations. It’s okay if some things don’t get done until next week.


Get yourself some wholesome snacks. You might not feel like cooking, but don’t fall back on crappy things like biscuits and ice cream. Your body needs good things to help the healing process, so stock up on things like good soups, fruit, smoothies – stuff with actual nutrients in. Shop online for minimum hassle or bribe a child to go out for you.


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It’s not always possible to have the money you need to hand. The price of a car, home improvement project or holiday often outstrips the amount of cash we have available in our bank accounts. Indeed, it’s said that four in ten people don’t have as much as £500 squirreled away in savings.

For many of us, then, purchasing such big ticket items requires us to obtain finance and one of the most obvious ways to do so is through a personal loan. Before you take out a loan, however, it’s vital to have a good grasp of the pros and cons of doing so.

Pros of a personal loan

You can get as much as you need: Personal loans can allow you access to cash amounts in the tens of thousands, far above the sort of limit that you might receive on a credit card. This should allow you to borrow the full cost of a big money purchase.

It’s easy to know what you’re paying back: When you take out a loan, it’s likely that you’ll set out what you’re going to pay back every month for the duration of the contract. That means you can set aside that amount in your budget and have a direct debit in place to ensure you don’t miss any payments. The interest rate is usually one fixed figure too, making it easier to calculate this.

You can shop around: You can look for big loans paid back over a number or years or smaller amounts in a shorter time. This means that you can shop around for the product that best fits your circumstances.

It’s a competitive market: There’s something of a ‘price war’ under way at the moment – with many lenders offering personal loans with an interest rate below 3%.

Cons of a personal loan

The interest rate could be high: Despite the competitive market at the moment, you may well find a loan still costs more than other forms of borrowing especially, for smaller amounts such as £1,000.

It can be tempting to borrow more than you need: With a personal loan you’ll often find that the very best deals – such as the sub-3% ones mentioned above – only come when you borrow more money. It’s easy to be tempted to take a higher loan than you need to get a better interest rate.

You might not get the advertised rate: Be careful of the term ‘representative APR’. When this is advertised, it’s the rate that the majority (at least 51%) of people will pay. You might actually find yourself accepted for the loan, but at a higher rate.

Personal loans are, therefore, a good way to help you make a planned-out big ticket purchase that you will steadily pay back over a few years. If you’re after a smaller amount of finance, or can pay back over a shorter period, other products such as credit cards might be more suited to your needs.