How’s everyone getting on with the summer holidays? All good?

Ours are slipping by fairly quickly so far. We’ve still got quite a few things to do in the new house, including hatching plans for turning our patch of gravel into a tropical paradise and getting fancy built in wardrobes in the bedroom. (Post coming about that soon.) We’ve been to Greece too, on our volunteering trip with Blog Authentic, which you can get a flavour of here, and Belle is sometimes getting up before midday, which is nice.

I know that summer holidays can be hard though if you’re juggling work and kids and tropical garden plans, so I thought I would offer a small carrot – a chocolate hamper that I can dangle in front of you on a stick to see you through the summer.

TADA!

win chocolate

It looks LUSH doesn’t it? Cadbury aren’t sponsoring me or anything, I just thought about what I would like to win if it was me, and then I’m going to buy it for the winner out of my pocket money. View Post

I’m a sucker for pretty packaging.

If it wasn’t for the fact that I am normally following the rule of second crappest when I’m in the supermarket, I could easily spend twice as much as necessary just because I like how things look. I spent about THREE times as much as I should have done on smoked paprika recently just because I liked this tin:

Fentimans Drinks

It’s easily done isn’t it?

And this mustard! (I don’t even LIKE mustard.) View Post

find a private tutor

A few months ago Belle had a bit of a blip at school. She does triple science GCSE and although I’m pretty handy with a simultaneous equation, when it comes to science, I’m not always hugely helpful. She’d recently had a chemistry test and had scored 28%. She was not feeling good.

I decided that a little bit of extra help was called for, so we had a search for a tutor online and found one nearby – a friendly looking woman called Fiona.

Belle was nervous before we went. I think she was worried about looking stupid and not knowing the answers, but as I pointed out, she’d look MORE stupid if we went all that way and then knew ALL of the answers, as it would just look like we had paid £30 to see inside Fiona’s house, and that would be VERY creepy. View Post

Berridon Farm Devon Superdrug

I have very fond memories of Superdrug in the 1990s. When I was a teenager, with nothing to spend my pocket money on other than hair dye and lip glosses, I would spend a lot of time hanging out in Superdrug. We lived in a small town with not a lot of decent shops, but for some reason we had TWO Superdrugs – one on the High Street and one inside the Angel Place shopping centre.

Trips into town would generally be for a couple of hours after school, and more often than not we’d start in one Superdrug, head to the second to see what different stuff they had, and then end up back at the first one to buy whatever it was that we’d seen in the first place. Belle is a big Superdrug fan now. It’s a Superdrug legacy.

When Superdrug asked if we fancied a weekend of glamping at Berridon Farm in Devon, at the same time as trying out some Superdrug products… Well, what’s not to love about that? A wood burning stove, beautiful views, AND a big stash of make up??

Hell to the yes. View Post

If you follow me on Facebook, you may have seen that Belle and I have recently been in Greece, on the island of Leros. We were there as part of a trip organised by Blog Authentic, to find out more about the refugee situation and to help out in any way we could. It was a fantastic trip, and I’ll be writing more about it over the next few weeks, but I just wanted to share something that I’ve been thinking about a lot since we got back.

It’s essentially about luck.

Take a look at this picture:

Greece refugees

It was taken by Kirby from Blog Authentic one afternoon when we went with some of the refugee families on a trip to the local beach. It’s only a ten minute drive away from the dilapidated ex-mental hospital building they currently live in, but they can’t visit often because the centre doesn’t have any transport. It’s only a small thing, but we were pleased to be able to organise some cars for the afternoon.

The boy on the right is called Winston. He is five years old and he lives in Yorkshire with his mum and dad and his two brothers. He likes colouring and drawing and he has beautiful handwriting. His mum Esther writes the blog Inside Out and About and we absolutely loved sharing our experiences in Greece with them.

The teenage boy on the left is called Matez*. He likes swimming and he loved Winston. They posed for dozens of photos together. He is currently living in Leros in a refugee centre all alone, as an underage minor, without any of his family. His mum and dad and brother are still in Damascus in Syria. We asked Matez where he hoped to live eventually. He said he just wanted to go home.

So what has Winston done ‘right’ that means he gets to live with his family in a safe country? What has Matez done ‘wrong’ that means he is alone in a foreign country with no idea of what’s going to happen to him?

Nothing.

It’s just luck.

It was just luck that Winston was born in the UK. Just luck that Matez was born in Syria. It’s just luck that you’re reading this now, probably from a perfectly comfy sofa or office chair, knowing that your family are safe and that you live without fear for your life.

What feels doubly unfair to me though is that so many people feel like they are somehow ‘better’ than people like Matez, that they can sit on that comfy sofa and judge him – package him up in their mind into a group of people who are somehow less deserving of love and support and kindness.

Matez is a CHILD. An ordinary boy. He likes swimming in the sea and making new friends. He just happens to have been born in Syria and is now on his own, missing his family. It feels so sad and wrong to me that life deals out such different hands to people, purely at random, and yet we can’t open our hearts to everyone, regardless of where luck lands them.

Winston talked about his new friends all the way home and wants to go back and visit them, but how can you explain to a five year old that Matez doesn’t even know where chance will take him next?

We’ve set up a fund to raise money for the refugee families on Leros. Please donate here. Belle and I have seen for ourselves what a big difference a small gesture can make. Thank you.

*Some names have be changed.

In association with Crock-Pot

slow cooker crock pot rice pudding recipe

I’ve never owned any sort of slow cooker.

I’m surprised really, as you’d think it would be right up my street – chuck it all in on pot, minimum effort etc. I love all that. But no, it is only now at the ripe old age of 39 that I have popped my slow cooker cherry.

I now own a Crock-Pot. ( A Crock-Pot 4.7L Digital Countdown Slow Cooker to be precise.)

I don’t know what I was expecting, but it was certainly something a little more complex than ‘plug it in, switch it on.’ I unpacked it, disposed sensibly of all the packaging, and got out the instruction booklet, ready to get to grips with the functionality.

‘Place the stoneware into the heating base,’ said the instructions, which caught me off guard straightaway as I wasn’t expected the dish to be so sturdy and wholesome. ‘Add your ingredients and cover with the lid. Plug in your Crock-Pot slow cooker.’

So far so good. View Post