Like most women, I am a sucker for lotions and potions, so when a lovely lady from AVEENO® offered me some samples of their skincare range to try out I leapt at the chance. Free potions delivered to your door in an exciting parcel – what’s not to love?

I am cynical enough not to fall for most of the anti-aging propoganda that typifies the beauty market. I don’t believe for a minute that the latest pore-defining-pro-retinal-q10-derma-peptide face cream will transform my face into that of a 19-year-old swedish model, but I do love the idea that one little bottle or jar of cream has the potential to have some kind of life changing, age defying effect. I love the sense of promise and hope that you are effectively buying.

AVEENO® though aren’t claiming to turn back time, they are simply offering a range of natural and effective moisturisers, designed especially for women with dry skin. Now I do love a good moisturiser, especially at this time of the year when cold winds and central heating have combined to give me skin the texture of sandpaper.

I consider it a personal quest to find the moisturiser that will make my skin silky smooth and leave me smelling like I’ve been bathing in exotic perfumes in the middle of an orchard, overhung with boughs of ripe fruits, honeysuckle and jasmine. Not too much to ask I’m sure you’ll agree.

So with unrealistically high expectations I begin to smother myself daily with AVEENO®’s Moisturising Creamy Oil. It does sound promising doesn’t it? And actually it’s pretty good. It isn’t sticky, and it does leave my skin feeling soft. I particularly like the smell – it smells like I’m smearing myself in melted chocolate orange, which has to be a good thing.

I wish I could say the same about the hand cream scent wise, because it really is a great hand cream. I have a bit of trouble with hand cream normally, as I seem to have developed a habit of putting it on just before I am about to do something with my hands, like make a sandwich. AVEENO®’s hand cream does just what it promises though and absorbs quickly, leaving my hands able to butter bread and manhandle the cheese without getting it too sticky.

The down side is that the ‘unscented’ hand cream smells a bit like an old people’s home – that sort of sterile, overcooked veg, soiled trousers smell. It’s only very faint, and I do have a ridiculously perceptive sense of smell, but it is a bit of a shame. That said, I liked it despite the vague aroma of octogenarians, and would probably buy it again.

You may also want to check out the AVEENO® Discoverer programme, where you can sign up to a special website to become an AVEENO® Discoverer, recommend products to friends and relatives, as well as receive news and samples.

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Personally, I try to watch as little kids TV as possible. For me, the likes of CBBC is basically free childcare – why would I stick the kids in front of a cartoon, thus freeing up valuable time for messing around on the internet working, only then to sit and watch it with them?? It just doesn’t make sense.

Some of my friends though see a dual purpose for kids TV, namely the selection of attractive young presenters and the double entendres. OK, so sometimes this makes it worthwhile, but sometimes it is a bit much. There were far to many anal probe gags for my liking in Planet 51 for instance.

What I’ve never quite understood though is crushes on cartoons, Jessica Rabbit style. I know a lot of people secretly quite fancy a roll in the mud with Daddy Pig – like this mummy at Notes from Inside My Head – but I confess I’ve always felt slightly weird fantasising about a cartoon pig. Call me narrow-minded, old-fashioned, what you will – it just seems wrong.

So when the lovely people at Peppa Pig offered me a copy of the new DVD to watch, I thought the time had come to educate myself, and see if I could be charmed by Daddy Pig’s rugged good looks and assertive manner.

So what did the family make of ‘Peppa Pig – the Fire Engine and Other Stories’? Well, we loved it! Even my mum enjoyed it, but then she does have rather a fondness for kids TV. I actually bought her a Peppa Pig annual for Christmas, but that’s another story. Bee was a little disturbed by the idea of a pet ladybird that barked, but then she is 14 and rather pedantic. “Ladybirds just wouldn’t bark!” she protested. I tried to point out that as a rule pigs don’t talk and put out BBQ fires, but she wasn’t convinced.

I have to confess I didn’t feel any chemistry for Daddy Pig, although I did notice that Mummy Pig quite often comes over all coy and giggly in his presence, and generally looks quite pleased with herself, so he must be doing something right. Aside from that though, it was great fun. Forget blogging and wasting time on twitter, I think I might start watching kids TV in the daytime…

Peppa Pig – The Fire Engine and Other Stories is out on 29 March

Photo credit: Sarah and Mike ..probably

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This post is a shameless boast. Not a boast on my behalf you understand. This is a boast on behalf of my step-sister, Rebecca Cobb, who is a little bit too shy to blow her own trumpet.

Rebecca lives in Falmouth, where she works partly in a lovely shop in the town centre, and the rest of the time as an illustrator. Rebecca has recently illustrated a book, written by Helen Dunmore:

Isn’t it gorgeous? She is really very talented 🙂

The story of how the work came about is lovely too. The shop Rebecca works in is opposite a bookshop, and she had some of her pictures up in the window for sale. The owner of the bookshop happened to notice them one day, and popped into the shop to ask who had painted them.

It turned out that he was a friend of Helen Dunmore, knew she was writing the book, and thought Rebecca’s style would really suit it. How cool is that? Just goes to show you never know where your next piece of work is going to come from!

The story is set is Falmouth, but I’m not going to tell you what happens, you’ll have to buy the book for that – it is out on 1 April, and is available to pre-order from Amazon.

So now if you’re ever looking for an illustrator, you know where to go!

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This morning I wake up in a state of eager anticipation. I take a little more care than usual getting dressed – I put on a skirt and brush my hair and everything. Why such glamour you may ask. Well, Bee is visiting her Dad and Belle has been invited to a birthday party, so I have a rare Saturday morning to myself. And this morning I have a date. A date with myself. An illicit coffee shop rendezvous with the weekend papers.

I find the papers make a perfect date. They are interesting, able to talk about a wide range of topics, they make me laugh and most importantly the don’t judge when I dip my croissant in my coffee and drop soggy crumbs on my cardi.

Of course the time limit and the rarity of the opportunity combine to pile on the pressure – that urgent feeling of having to Make The Most Of it that most parents will appreciate. In a bid to really enjoy myself as much as possible I end up visiting three different cafes, trying to find the perfect retreat, before settling on one that really looked very much like all the other two.

My date starts well, and I’m half way through the Guardian when my secluded corner starts to become rather crowded. I have bagged myself a comfy sofa, and am happy to have well behaved extras occupying the two chairs opposite. However, the longer I stay the more I find my space being overtaken.

A small boy plonks himself down in one of the chairs and helps himself to my sports section. Fine. I don’t like sport anyway. His Dad joins him in the second chair. Still manageable. But then the boy’s grandparents arrive and suddenly things are not so fine. I am forced to take my feet off the sofa so Grandma can sit down. I toy with moving but want to stand my ground – I was here first after all. And so long as I ignore Grandma’s shuffling and awkward glances I can still pretend I’m on my own. Just about.

But then it all gets a bit much. I am already starting to feel a little overwhelmed when another couple plus child appear – apparently friends of the family. “What’s going on here then?” says Dad number two.

“Just a little family outing,” says Grandma.

“Who’s that then?” asks Dad two, nodding his head in my direction.

“I’ve no idea!” exclaims Grandma loudly, as though I have just attached myself to them and they are humouring me.

“I am sat right here!” I want to yell, but of course I don’t. Instead I keep my head buried in the paper, hoping they will feel uncomfortable and drink up quick. No such luck though. Dad two plus family are invited to join them. There are now seven of them and me and everyone knows one’s company but eight’s a crowd. I do my best to stick it out but my presence at the crowded table now feels vaguely ridiculous.

It’s not long before I give up, make my excuses and push my way out through the family party. Hmph. Not exactly the romantic coffee for one I had planned. Still, I got as far as the Review section of the paper, which is further than I normally get before about Wednesday, so I probably should be grateful…

Photo credit: wonderferret

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This morning I woke up feeling vaguely ashamed of myself and with a stiff neck. And not in a good way.

Last night, on my way to a meeting to present myself as a ‘safe pair of hands’, a secure and reliable fundraiser whom you can trust to act professionally at all times, I crashed my car into a verge. A shameful and embarrassing case of driver error. I was driving in the dark, on roads I didn’t know, and was taken by surprise by a rather sharp corner.

As the telegraph pole loomed up in front of me at speed, I had a flash of the last time a similar thing had happened, and was grateful at least that this time I didn’t have a box of eggs on the passenger seat. The car lurched to a halt, my passenger and I stopped screaming and my inner critic immediately began to tell me how stupid I was. My sub-conscious is not very supportive at times – it is very hard on me whenever I make mistakes of any kind.

In the pitch dark in the middle of nowhere, it was hard to know how to proceed. Not far from our destination, we opted to hobble on, arriving at our meeting late, both looking slightly hysterical and me with my hands covered in mud and oil. Always a great way to make a good first impression on potential clients.

This morning, I went out in the harsh light of day to inspect the damage. The dent was tolerable, but I was slightly concerned to see that the front tyres now seem to be pointing in different directions. Now I’m no expert, but I’m pretty sure this isn’t right.

An evening business trip that was meant to make me money, has ended up costing me. The biggest dent though isn’t the one in my bumper, it’s the one in my pride.

Photo credit: Kevin

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