In recent years, Kratom has been the subject of intense media scrutiny. From sensational headlines that paint it as a dangerous drug to glowing endorsements from users, there are myriad ways in which the public perceives Kratom and its effects on health and well-being.

In this article, we will explore these contrasting depictions by delving into the extensive coverage surrounding this herbal supplement over recent decades and examining the reactions they have prompted among audiences. By analyzing both mainstream media portrayals of Kratom and smaller-scale independent reports, we aim to gain an accurate understanding of how this particular substance is shaping public perception today.

Introducing Kratom – What is it and Where Did it Come From

Kratom is a tropical tree native to Southeast Asia, specifically Thailand, Malaysia, and Indonesia. Its leaves have traditionally been used for medicinal purposes for centuries, with local communities using it as a stimulant, pain reliever, and treatment for various ailments. The active ingredient in the leaves is mitragynine, responsible for the plant’s therapeutic effects.

In recent years, Kratom has gained popularity in the Western world as a natural alternative to prescription drugs, particularly for pain management and anxiety. However, its legality is still a grey area in some countries, and debates continue to arise over its safety and potential for addiction. Nonetheless, Kratom’s widespread use and rich cultural history make it a fascinating topic of study. Thai maeng da kratom, for instance, is thought to be the most vital available type, making it highly sought-after in some circles.

Examining Media Portrayals of Kratom – Balancing Fact and Fiction

The media’s portrayal of Kratom is often divided between those who demonize it as a dangerous substance and those who put forth its benefits. For instance, in the United States, newspaper reports have described Kratom usage as analogous to “legalized heroin”. On the other hand, many online articles cite the herbal supplement’s medicinal potential.

It is important to note that the accuracy of these claims varies greatly depending on the source, and those in favour or against Kratom should have an open mind when evaluating media accounts. For example, a 2018 report from The New York Times referred to Kratom as “highly addictive”, while other outlets such as WebMD and Harvard Health Publications have noted insufficient evidence to support these claims.

In addition, it is essential to note that both sides of the debate often exaggerate the effects of Kratom. Some may portray its benefits as a “miracle cure”, while opponents will decry it as having potentially fatal consequences. In reality, the truth lies somewhere in between, and much more research is needed to learn the full extent of Kratom’s effects on health.

Public Perception of Kratom – Misinformation, Myths, and Stigmas

Unsurprisingly, with so much conflicting information out there, public perception of Kratom can be confusing and often misguided. It is compounded by the fact that the substance is still largely unregulated in most countries, meaning it has yet to receive the kind of extensive research and review from health authorities that other medicinal herbs have enjoyed in recent years.

As a result, many of the misconceptions surrounding Kratom stem from urban legends and personal anecdotes rather than concrete evidence. For instance, some people believe its use can lead to severe addiction or even death, while some users report only positive effects such as improved mood and energy levels.

To dispel these myths and misunderstandings, it is essential to remember that Kratom is still an herbal remedy and should be treated with caution. Anyone considering using it should research, consult a medical professional, and understand the risks before making any decisions.

The Benefits of Kratom – A Closer Look at the Potential Health Benefits

While the potential dangers of Kratom remain largely unknown, it is essential to remember that the substance has a long history of use in traditional medicine and can be beneficial for specific conditions. In addition, more recent studies have identified some potential health benefits associated with its consumption, such as reduced symptoms of depression and anxiety, improved cognitive performance and focus, and even enhanced sexual arousal.

Furthermore, some preliminary research suggests that Kratom may reduce pain perception in some instances and help wean users off opioid drugs safely and effectively. While these findings are still inconclusive, they suggest a promising future for this controversial herb.

The Regulatory Environment Surrounding Kratom – FDA Regulation and Enforcement

In the United States, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has restricted the sale of Kratom since 2016. Vendors must register with the FDA to sell and distribute it. Although this is seen as a positive step towards greater regulation of Kratom, many advocates are concerned about how these restrictions may hinder access to the substance for those who need it.

Kratom sales are also regulated in countries such as Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and much of Europe. In some cases, it is banned entirely; in others, it can be obtained with a prescription from a medical professional. As these regulations evolve, Kratom users and advocates must stay informed about the latest developments.


Ultimately, the public perception of Kratom remains divided, and users need to weigh the potential risks versus rewards when considering its use. More research needs to be done to fully understand the effects of this herbal supplement on health and well-being. A more balanced approach to understanding the substance is needed to effectively assess its safety and therapeutic potential.


Stack up your vacation fund while making the most of the fall season this year

As we bid farewell to summer and welcome the crisp, colorful days of fall, it’s the perfect time to get out and enjoy the season. From hay rides to haunted houses, you want to do it all. But, if you have a vacation—or, really any big purchase—you’ve been saving up for, the season’s to-dos may distract you from your larger goals. Let’s talk about some ways that you can make the most of your fall while strategically saving for your upcoming adventure.

Embrace The Fall Cooking Crazes

Fall brings with it a cornucopia of seasonal ingredients and produce—pumpkin, squash, cranberry, and so much more. What better way to save money than by embracing your inner chef and cooking at home this fall? 

Cooking at home saves you a bundle compared to going out, but it also gives you the perfect opportunity to experiment with delicious fall flavors. Whip up some hearty soups, pumpkin sweets, apple-inspired dishes, and anything else you can think up. Use this season’s harvest to get creative with your meals. Your taste buds and your wallet will thank you.

Declutter And Sell Your Stuff

Just as the fall leaves change, your needs do, too. Take some time this fall to declutter and get rid of some of the stuff you don’t use or need. Here are some of the areas around your house that could probably use some decluttering:

  • Pantry
  • Your wardrobe
  • Linen closets
  • Kids bedrooms
  • Your bedroom
  • Storage areas
  • Office
  • Craft rooms

Go through these areas and gather any items you no longer need. If you have any items that you may be able to resell, list those items online. Or, if you think you have enough, host a garage sale to see if you can make any extra cash. Anything you make can go directly to your vacation fund. 

Be sure to donate any usable items you aren’t able to sell, and safely dispose of anything that can’t be donated. 

Review And Adjust Your Budget

It’s difficult to save money if you don’t know where you’re spending your money to begin with. As you welcome a new season and look ahead to your dream vacation, you need to take a look at your budget and identify the changes you need to make to find a bit of breathing room in your finances. 

Review your monthly expenses and note any areas where you and your family can cut back. After you’ve thoroughly reviewed your budget, create a revised budget that reflects your financial priorities. Contribute any additional savings toward your vacation fund and watch it thrive!

Open A Savings Account

One of the best ways to make saving for your summer vacation effortless is to open a dedicated savings account intended to only hold the money for your upcoming trip. This helps you separate your vacation fund from your everyday expenses. You’ll be able to review it—and watch it grow—much easier in a separate account, and it’ll help you resist the urge to spend it. 

You can set up automatic transfers from your checking account so that you are regularly contributing to your vacation fund. Or, just simply make a manual one-off transfer or deposit when you’re ready. 

Find The Best Rates For Your Services

As you try to make the most of your fall savings, don’t forget to look into your rates for some of your bills and expenses, like your cell phone bill, car insurance, and other essentials you need. In some cases, you can negotiate your rates with your service providers, and in others, you may need to shop around. Here are some expenses you should explore:

  • Cell phone and internet bills – Review your cell phone and internet plans to see if you are getting the best value for your money. Look for plans from your provider’s competitors or promotions your current provider is offering that may fit your needs. Talk to a customer service representative and see if you can use these other plans and promotions to get a better rate.
  • Car insurance – You should shop around for car insurance at least once a year to make sure you are getting the best rates possible. Shop around and get some rates from a few different insurance companies. See if you can save more through a special discount that a company may offer, like discounts for safe driving, or by bundling multiple policies together. 
  • Life insurance – Life insurance is a great investment to make to protect your family’s financial security, but you shouldn’t have to overpay for that protection. Use comparison tools online to get a better idea of different policies that may work for you and prices you may expect to pay. Some companies even offer a type of instant policy that lets you skip over the typical medical exam to give you an affordable life insurance rate without the hassle. Get quotes from a few different providers to find the best policy for the best rate that fits within your budget.
  • Credit card interest rates – Credit card debt can be a huge challenge to overcome if you have a high interest rate. Talk to your credit card company to see if they can lock in a lower interest rate for you. This will reduce the amount of interest you will have to pay, which can help you pay down your debt drastically faster. 

By paying a bit of attention to the rates of your essential bills and services, you’ll be sure you aren’t overpaying for what you need. With lowered monthly expenses, you can free up more to put toward your dream vacation. 

Streamline Your Subscription Services

With how easy it is to trial a subscription, or even just start one, it’s no wonder how we can easily end up with more than we even realize. Use this fall as an opportunity to really sit down to review your subscriptions—whether that’s streaming services, subscription boxes, or gym memberships—and think about whether or not you really need them. Cut back or cancel subscriptions that you no longer really use or need and funnel those savings into your vacation fund instead.

Plan Budget-Friendly Fall Activities

Fall brings about some of the most enjoyable weather out of all the seasons, and, of course, you and your family want to make the most of it while still staying on track for your dream vacation. Luckily, there are so many budget-friendly fall activities you and your family can do to enjoy the season without breaking the bank. 

Try hiking to enjoy the fall foliage or visit a local pumpkin patch. Check with your city, your local library, or other businesses around to see if your community has any budget- and family-friendly events happening near you.

Fall is a season of transformation and change. As the world around us changes, we can embrace change, too! By making some savvy financial choices and opting for more budget-friendly activities, you can make the most of your fall while investing in your family’s dream vacation. 


This may come across as an outrageous request: You already have your business to run and employees to pay – now someone’s telling you to spend even more money! Before throwing caution to the wind and tossing money around recklessly, let us be clear: this discussion involves strategic investments rather than reckless spending sprees.

The Fine Balance between Pennies and Productivity 

A happy employee is often more productive. But to reap their smiles that convert to pounds doesn’t require breaking the bank. Reaching that delicate equilibrium between productivity and budget requires finding a winning formula, where every pound spent returns excellent returns on investment. Investing in your employees doesn’t mean spending unwisely – rather, it should involve making smart purchases that will boost morale, motivate team members and promote an enjoyable work environment. At the end of the day, you’ll realise it’s not simply about not losing more money; it’s about making an investment with long-term benefits that pay dividends in terms of loyalty, talent retention and creating a sense of community – things which you cannot put a price tag on. View Post


untold stories slummy single mummy
Today’s Untold Story is a contribution from a woman who years later, still feels a crushing guilt at having ended her marriage. Guilt is something that we all carry so much of, especially as parents, that I’m sure her story will resonate with a lot of people. Please leave a comment if you’d like to share your experiences of guilt and please get in touch if you have your own untold story you’d like to share – they can be published anonymously.

I’ve decided to write a blog post on guilt because it’s something I have struggled with terribly and something I imagine a lot of you have struggled with also.

According to the Cambridge English Dictionary, the definition of guilt is a feeling of worry or unhappiness that you have because you have done something wrong, such as causing harm to another person.

Now the difficulty here I found was that there is guilt where you have genuinely done something wrong, or guilt where you perceive you’ve done something wrong but you know deep down you haven’t or there are extenuating circumstances.

Ever since leaving my husband I have suffered with guilt.  The marriage had been failing for a long time for many reasons which I won’t get into here.   And every argument has two sides.  My justification and reasons for the breakdown of our marriage could be the complete opposite of my husband’s.  Because it was me who left, I shouldered all the guilt and blame.  The marriage ended because I left.  It was my fault.  If I’d stayed, maybe we could have worked it out.

I knew deep down those thoughts were unfair to myself and I knew deep down I’d made the right decision but I couldn’t make them stop.

Our marriage had been toxic in later years and I couldn’t have my children growing up in that environment.  Surrounded by so much negativity, despair, pain and anguish.  I didn’t want them to grow up thinking that was a normal relationship.  That was how a man and a woman or any couple should love each other.  I didn’t want them setting their own bar so low.  Their own expectations of love and marriage.  I felt it was my responsibility to free them from those experiences and hopefully show them one day what love could be.

For the first couple of months I felt so much guilt it was like a physical weight crushing my chest.  Have I done the right thing, for the kids, for me, even for him.  Could we have made this work?   I would look at the house we’d bought together and the garden.  The home we’d bought for our children to grow up in.  All the plans we’d made.  We’d even had architect plans drawn up for a big extension project.  It now all felt as though it had been for nothing.  13 years of my life had led to this point.  

Towards the end of our marriage, the last couple of years or so, I yoyo’d back and forth between anger and hatred and complete indifference.   I was on antidepressants which helped to take the edge off.  I see now that despite the way he treated me, this wasn’t fair to him.  I was a shell of myself.  I had shut down.  I had stopped engaging with him in any way but I also didn’t have the courage to move on.  I was just drifting through the days.  Existing for the sake of the kids.  I felt completely trapped and joyless.  Like I was in a downward spiral where I could neither see the top nor the bottom.  

One day it all came to a head and the marriage ended just like that.  My very first feeling was devastation and crushing guilt as I saw my future, unhappy though it likely would have been, come crashing down.  At least a miserable future is a future.  Now I just saw nothing.  A single woman with two young kids, no job as I’d moved to the other side of the country and I was living with my parents.  But after a week or so relief set in.  I was free.  It didn’t matter that I couldn’t see a future because the future was now mine and it was mine to control and shape as I wanted.  The future could wait.  I was just taking it a day at a time.  

But eventually the relief, whilst still there, was displaced by the guilt which came back with a vengeance as I started to fully process what I had done and what it would mean.  The phone calls from my ex husband asking to come back, the horrendous tantrums from my older daughter as she wondered where her dad had gone and standing firm in the face of all of that whilst feeling like I was falling to bits piece by piece.  There are two years which I can say are the worst of my life and the year I was on my own was one of them.

This is not because I was on my own in itself.  Being on my own was liberating.  Yes I was managing two kids, a house and a full time job but I did so with no external factors.  I didn’t have to worry about abusive arguments or fists through walls anymore.  It was horrendous because I had a new job and my boss was a narcissistic bully.  I’ve never worked for such a volatile, unpleasant person.  I was also navigating the practicalities with my ex husband.  Money, housing, the kids.  To begin with, this was not done on amicable terms and it was an absolute minefield.  But whilst I absorbed the abuse and the threats I knew this wasn’t my life anymore and I could just walk away.

Three years have now gone by and the guilt is still there.  It is much weaker than in the early days but I don’t think it will ever fully leave.  It will still hit me from nowhere.  A memory, photos flashing up on my phone of when the four of us were a family, wedding paraphernalia, holidays, films we used to like, sayings and phrases which were in jokes.  But mostly my children are a daily reminder of the decisions I made.  Marrying the wrong man and making my children pay for my mistakes.  Even though I know leaving was the right decision for me and for them, there is always an alternate reality where my children do not have to split themselves in two.  Where I married a different someone and we lived happily ever after.  

My ex husband is now living with another partner and they have a baby girl together.  I live with a new partner who is a truly wonderful man and who I’ve been with for just under two years.   But every time my life moves on, the guilt is re-triggered.  The first time I was intimate with someone other than my ex husband.  For the first time in 13 years.  This was with my current partner and it took me a long time to fully embrace a new relationship and let go of the last.  When my partner moved into the house I bought with my ex husband this was another trigger. 

My ex husband now lives at the end of the road and his partner’s daughter is the same age and is in the same school as my older daughter.   My younger daughter is the same age as my partner’s son and he will be attending a school in the same area.  We all attend school events together and are on friendly terms as a group.  My ex husband respects and happily chats to my partner and I to his.  But it has taken nearly three years to get to this point.

As for me, I believe I can now show my children what true love is and can be.  I don’t believe the guilt will ever fully leave me because no matter how happy I am now, my children will always have to split themselves between me and their father and find their place in two separate families.  This will have repercussions.  Maybe my happiness and feelings of guilt are interlinked.  After leaving my husband, do I deserve to be happy?  Is my happiness at the expense of other people’s?  Does everyone deserve to be happy?

But regardless of this, I do believe I’ve finally found my happily ever after and I hope against hope my children will find the love and respect first time around that it took me a second chance to achieve.  

For other blogs and my journey from before the separation and divorce to the present day, please see my blog Single Mummy’s Voice.

Guilt over divorce
Photo from Unsplash


When it comes to picking the perfect footwear, one brand tends to stand out from the rest: Clarks. Established in 1825, this British institution has been making strides in the world of shoes for nearly two centuries. But what makes Clarks the go-to choice for so many families? Let’s delve into the reasons that make this brand a household name across generations.

A Legacy of Craftsmanship

A pair of shoes is more than just a piece of fashion; it’s a work of art. Clarks has been marrying functionality with aesthetics since its inception. Each shoe is crafted with meticulous attention to detail, offering an unparalleled level of quality that has become synonymous with the brand. With a wide array of designs and materials to choose from, you’ll find a pair that embodies the essence of your personal style.

Clarks offers an artisan touch that elevates the shoe experience to a whole new level. Whether it’s robust leather, plush suede, or lightweight fabric, the materials used are top-notch and carefully selected. Over decades, Clarks has honed its craft to create shoes that are not just elegant but built to last.

A Range of Choices for Everyone

Diversity is key when it comes to family shoe shopping. Mums want stylish yet practical options, dads need something rugged and comfy, and the little ones desire shoes that are playful and snug. Clarks offers an expansive range of shoes tailored for everyone’s needs.

With selections ranging from classic brogues and Oxford shoes for the discerning gentleman, to strappy sandals and court shoes for the modern woman, and an entire lineup for kids that include both school shoes and casuals—Clarks has got it all. Its diverse portfolio ensures that no matter your preference, you’ll find the right fit.

The Height of Comfort

Fashion is all well and good, but what’s the point if you can’t walk five steps without wincing in pain? Clarks has always prioritised comfort, understanding that a comfortable shoe contributes to overall wellbeing. Each pair is designed with ergonomic principles in mind, assuring proper foot health and preventing common issues like arch pain and blisters.

You’ll find cushioning in all the right places, breathable fabrics that adjust to your feet, and soles designed to accommodate natural walking patterns. These details translate to a level of comfort that becomes palpable from the first step. Your feet will thank you, and so will the rest of your body.

Special Offers and Seasonal Sales

Don’t let the price tag deter you; quality comes at a cost, but it doesn’t have to break the bank. Keep an eye out for any sales, which occur periodically throughout the year. You can also take advantage of websites like SuperSales that collate the best deals across multiple brands, including Clarks – they have a Clarks sale on currently. Such platforms allow you to compare prices and select the most advantageous offers, making your shopping experience both budget-friendly and fulfilling.

Attention to Detail and Innovation

What sets Clarks apart is its relentless pursuit of innovation. The brand invests in research and development to create shoes with groundbreaking technologies. Whether it’s the use of Gore-Tex for waterproofing or integrating the Active Air system for enhanced ventilation, Clarks stays ahead of the curve.

These technological advancements make each pair of Clarks more than just a shoe. They become innovative solutions that tackle specific challenges, be it extreme weather conditions or the need for additional support during long hours of wear.

Sustainability at Its Core

Sustainability isn’t just a buzzword; it’s a necessity. Clarks takes its environmental responsibilities seriously. From eco-friendly manufacturing processes to the use of sustainable materials like organic cotton and responsibly-sourced leather, the brand is committed to reducing its carbon footprint.

Clarks has initiated recycling programs and partnered with charities to donate unsold and gently-used shoes. These endeavours reflect the brand’s conscientious approach to not just shoe-making but global citizenship as well.

Personalised Fittings for the Perfect Fit

One size does not fit all, especially when it comes to shoes. Clarks understands the unique needs of each foot and offers personalised fittings to ensure you get the best match. With the assistance of trained professionals in their retail outlets, you’ll find the right shoe that not only complements your style but also provides optimum comfort.

Children’s feet grow rapidly, and a proper fit is crucial for their overall development. Clarks provides a dedicated fitting service for kids, complete with foot measuring and consultations. This ensures that your little ones get the ideal size for their ever-changing feet, keeping them comfortable and supporting their growth.

Wrapping Up

Clarks brings together an extraordinary blend of style, comfort, innovation, and sustainability, making it an excellent choice for families. Its enduring legacy of craftsmanship, extensive range of options, and commitment to both quality and the environment ensure that you’re making an investment that pays off in the long run. If you’re in search of a reliable shoe brand that caters to the whole family, Clarks clearly steps up to the mark.


Deck the halls with boughs of pumpkins, fa-la-la-la-la etc etc!

I am feeling especially seasonal today as I wore an ACTUAL JUMPER walking the dog this morning at about 7.30am and my hands were even a tiny bit cold! Can you imagine? It was lovely. What with that and having my first pumpkin spice latte of the year, it’s all very jolly and cosy and the perfect opportunity for an autumn themed episode of It’s Five O’clock Somewhere. (My podcast. Ooh!)

In every episode of the podcast, my cohost Gill and I drink a cocktail and to annoy Gill, who is convinced there is a Big Cinnamon conspiracy, I decided to make a pumpkin spice martini.

By pumpkin spice martini I don’t just mean slugging a bit of vodka into a Starbucks latte, which I have been known to do for the podcast before, I mean an actual fancy drink in a martini glass and everything. The recipe, if you can call it that, is very simple indeed. It’s half vodka and half this Mozart pumpkin spice cream liqueur. Shake it all up with some ice, pour into a nice glass and garnish with a cinnamon stick if you have one. To be honest, Belle said my cinnamon stick just looked like an old twig, so I’m not sure it really adds anything.

Take a look and see what you think for yourself.

pumpkin spice martini

It does look quite like a stick.

Ah well.

It tastes EXCELLENT and I can guarantee that it gets you drunk nice and quickly too. I can testify to this because after I made this one for the photo, I saved it to drink before I went out for dinner with friends later that evening. Unfortunately I forgot about it until I was leaving and had to knock it back in one go. I say ‘had to’.. food waste and all that.

It was the responsible thing to do.


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When Belle was little there was one very important criterion when it came to choosing her bed – would alligators be able to get into it? Alligators and crocodiles were one of her biggest fears (literally and figuratively) and so it was very important that her bed was sufficiently off the ground to deter reptilian visitors during the night. This is the bed she had for a long time. Nice and safe, although potentially a crocodile could nest underneath behind the curtain.

Your children may have less specific needs, so how do you go about choosing a bed for kids if they aren’t fussy about accessibility for escaped crocodiles? Here are a few tips to help you choose:

Ask your child

Well DUR you might think, but you’d be surprised at how many parents buy furniture for their children’s bedrooms without really asking them what they want. If your child has any imagination they’re likely to ask for something ridiculous like a bunk bed with a slide into a paddling pool, but who wouldn’t want that honestly – good for them for aiming high. If they’re not sure, try looking at pictures or browsing the kids’ beds at Better Bed Company for ideas.

How much space do you have?

It’s not always a question of the bigger the bedroom, the bigger the kids’ bed – you need to think about it more in terms of maximising space. In a very small room for example, you might be tempted to get a cabin bed or bunk beds to use height instead but a tall bed can feel overwhelming in a small bedroom and you might find it’s better to go with a very low bed. You could think about a toddler bed for a very small child, which wouldn’t be as long and so wouldn’t take up as much space.

Does it match the decor?

Kids might not be as fussy about having a scheme as such, but you still have to look at it, so you want the kids’ bed you choose to at least not look out of place. You don’t want to have to launch into an unplanned bedroom makeover just to make it fit. Consider the type of materials – wood, metal etc – as well as the colour and style. Keep it plain if you can and use bedding a cushions to add colour and pattern as these are much easier to update as tastes change.  Exploring a collection of kids beds with versatile styles can help you find a bed that harmonizes with the room’s aesthetics and offers adaptability as your child’s preferences evolve.

How long do you need the bed to last?

Not everyone thinks of this, but beds actually last a pretty long time, and the bed for a nine-year-old that you’re buying now will quickly become a bed for a teenager and said teenager might quite enjoy a double bed thank you and not a pink fairy bed complete with sparkles. If you want to be practical, choose a neutral bed that isn’t going to date quickly and invest in a double if you have the space. They’ll thank you later and you’ll thank yourself when you’re getting into it at 3am to comfort them after a crocodile-related nightmare.

kids beds

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Dreaming of a luxurious beach holiday in Sicily? Wake up your dreams and discover 7 stunning villas by the sea nestled by the azure sea, awaiting your presence for an unforgettable beachfront escape.

If you are planning for your dream holiday on the stunning shores of Sicily and need a villa, look no further; we have you covered. Most of us love traveling to visit new places for our holidays, and many travelers love Sicily. However, choosing the best villa for your holiday can be a hassle. This blog provides seven villas in Sicily near the beach to rent on your next holiday.

1. Essence

Essence is the home of luxury and comfort. This luxury villa located in the south-west coast brings together amazing amenities with a warm atmosphere of the fantastic Mediterranean countryside. The villa boasts large picture windows, a spacious, perfectly furnished interior that opens onto the outdoor swimming pool and external panoramic terraces. With easy access to activities and sandy beaches of this angle of Sicily, Villa Essence has everything you need for a truly memorable holiday.

2. Prestige

Villa Prestige stands in a naturally and amazingly enchanting location near Syracuse, Sicily. This 4- 4-bedroom luxury villa boasts amazing amenities with modern architecture and unique design. The villa’s gardens, surrounded by the pools’ water and the sea, will take you to a parallel universe where you will feel the protagonist of a dream in which all the senses will enjoy the same spell together. The villa makes an ideal spot for your next holiday with a natural seawater pool and infinity pool with a jacuzzi and other infinite activities.

3. La Casina

La Casina is a gorgeous, huge and comfortable villa. The villa is immersed in the countryside next to Belice River Nature Reserve, offering direct access to one of the most outstanding, peaceful and secluded beaches on the Sicilian Coast. Its fine decoration makes it ideal for natural, colorful fabric lovers.

4. Amelia

This 2-bedroom gem with numerous fantastic amenities and tastefully decorated with attention to detail is ideal for holiday enthusiasts without sacrificing comfort. The villa can comfortably accommodate up to 5 guests in gorgeous and well-designed two bedrooms and two bathrooms. Amelia is the perfect destination to reach restaurants and beaches of Porto Palo-Menfi on foot.

5. Aria

This amazing masterpiece villa is located in a country area between Menfi and Selinunte, the biggest archeological park in Europe. On this ideal spot, you can swim while watching the Greek temples. Aria is a luxury villa that offers stunning amenities and can accommodate up to 6 guests in 3 big bedrooms and two bathrooms. This is the perfect place to escape for peace and tranquility with a nice panoramic swimming pool area and terraces.

6. Aqua

Aqua is a modern luxury villa loved for its unique architecture in the innovative area of Fontane Bianche in Syracuse. Aqua has over two floors with outstanding amenities, modern design and comfort that remind nature all you need for your amazing holiday in Sicily. Aqua offers a fantastic heated infinity pool overlooking the enchanting bay and outdoor relaxation area, offering peace and tranquility.

7. Villa dell’Orizzonte

Villa dell’Orizzonte, five bedrooms with seven bathrooms and accommodating up to 10 guests, is ideal for direct sea access. Villa dell’Orizzonte has a luxuriously finished seafront villa with a premier pool immersed in a private oasis near the village of Scopello, which creates an ideal comfort, peace, tranquility, and atmosphere for a perfect holiday.

Parting Thoughts

All these amazing villas are available through the travel agency Select Sicily, which specializes in exclusive and owner-direct villa rental in Sicily for 15+ years. For a high-quality holiday, check out our selection of villas in Sicily by the sea, including unique features with easy access to Sicily beaches. So, if you want to spend your holiday enjoying beautiful seashores and stunning attraction sites, you are in the right place.


So you’ve done it. You’ve got past those first two years with your baby, and you’ve succeeded! Your baby is healthy, they’re happy, and at no stage did they bypass any of the baby proofing you had installed into your home – although, we’re sure that wasn’t for lack of trying! But now you’ve got another issue. Your baby has legs, and they’re about to use them.

That’s right, once your baby learns to walk, then that’s going to open up a whole new world of possibilities – and ways for them to hurt themselves! This is why we think it’s a good idea that you roll your sleeves up, pick out some “DIY clothes”, and get to work with the second stage of babyproofing: The Terrible Two Stage!

Below, we’ve listed out five of the most pressing things for you to think about when it comes to your home, as well as a few tips on how to turn any dangerous designs into something two-year-old-friendly:

Replacing Your Internal Doors

The first thing we would suggest is to go through the whole house and test out the doors. A lot of old internal doors are heavier, which means that they fall back after opening, rather than staying ajar. This is very dangerous where toddlers are concerned, as they can easily get their fingers trapped. In this way, it can be a good idea to replace your old doors with modern internal doors that will not only be more suitable but look a bit better too!

Reflooring Your Living Spaces

You should also take a look at your living spaces and check out the flooring. For instance, if you have vinyl flooring in the lounge or kitchen, then it might be more slippery than other flooring options. When toddlers walk, they don’t tend to do it carefully. If they’re up, they’re up, and they’re moving fast! With baby onesies in mind, it’s important to make sure the floors are ready for them and won’t lead to an accident.

Bathroom Renovation

The best thing about having a newborn is being able to wash them in a baby tub, which is easy, practical, and creates a little mess. But sadly they grow out of this tub, and they soon grow out of the kitchen sink too! Even at two years old, your baby might be too big for both of these cleaning techniques, which means they will need to become a new member of the bathroom. Now this one isn’t so much of a necessity, but if there are repairs or changes that need doing, then it’s best to do them now, as your child will need to stay clean and have full access to this room in the future.

More Safety Latches

You can never have too many safety latches! If your baby is fast becoming a toddler, then their curiosity is only going up and up. This means more open cabinets, open drawers – anything that can open, and your two-year-old will try to open it! Go around the house again, check what doesn’t have a safety latch, decide what needs a safety latch, and then install it. Not so much a renovation, granted, but super important if you want to keep your entire house safe.


Lastly, when babies grow up, they also grow an appetite for exploration. This means you might be spending far more time in the garden than you were before, and your garden needs to be ready. If it is uneven or has steep slopes, make sure that you level it and keep it as flat as possible. Any unsafe patios should also be considered, perhaps by renovating that space into wooden decking.

Of course, you don’t need to follow any of these suggestions, you’re going to be with your child at all times, but it’s best to make everything as safe as possible just in case!


lisbon tram

As the final autumn leaves herald the coming of winter, a vast number of travel enthusiasts turn their gazes towards tropical destinations. Yet, one should not overlook the rich experiences that Europe has to offer in the winter months, especially the alluring locales of Portugal. From sun-drenched shores to historic avenues brimming with cultural treasure troves, Portugal is a winter wonderland like no other. So why not discover the beauty and tranquillity that await you in the land of contrasts? This year, prepare to embark on unforgettable Portugal winter tours, where winter sun and history blend into a delightful journey.

Experience the Unforgettable Portugal Winter Tours

Winter in Portugal offers a mild and pleasant climate, a stark contrast to the frosty weather enveloping most parts of Europe. The balmy temperatures provide a perfect setting for exploring the picturesque coastal regions and venturing into the heart of historic cities such as Lisbon and Porto. Winter tours in Lisbon particularly are not to be missed, offering a fusion of historic fascination and modern allure.

The Enchanting Lisbon: A Blend of Modern and Historic

Lisbon, the vibrant capital city, doesn’t put on brakes during the winter season. Quite the contrary, the city buzzes with energy and charm, with fewer tourists allowing for a more personalised exploration. Winter tours in Lisbon offer an eclectic mix of experiences, from marvelling at the iconic Belém Tower to enjoying a warm cup of coffee in the historic Alfama district.

Lisbon’s historic streets are adorned with festive decorations, and there is a delightful buzz in the air, making your winter journey an experience filled with both comfort and joy. The golden rays of the sun cast a magical hue on the city, offering plenty of opportunities for capturing those perfect sun-drenched photographs.

The Scenic Coastal Regions: Sun-Drenched Shores Await

Portugal’s coastline is a haven for those looking to escape the winter blues. The Algarve region, with its picturesque beaches and azure waters, remains inviting even during the colder months. Stroll along sun-drenched shores, feeling the gentle caress of sea breezes as the waves play a mesmerising melody. Here, you’ll find that the winter sun creates an almost mystical atmosphere, bathing the shores in a warm, golden glow.

Beyond the beaches, Portugal’s coastal areas are a hotspot for water sports enthusiasts. From surfing to kayaking, the winter months provide a perfect opportunity to indulge in your favourite water adventures amidst stunning natural beauty.

Historic Exploration: A Journey Through Time

The winter season in Portugal is an opportune time to embark on a historic exploration. The country is steeped in history, with centuries-old castles, forts, and archaeological sites offering a glimpse into a rich and diverse past. Visit the romantic city of Sintra, where the Pena Palace stands as a testimony to the grandeur of yesteryears.

Discover the charm of Porto, a city that harmoniously blends tradition and modernity. Here, the historic Ribeira District is a UNESCO World Heritage site, boasting a rich architectural and cultural heritage. As you traverse through cobblestone streets and ancient alleys, you’ll find yourself on a journey through time, where history unfurls with every step.

Culinary Delights: A Festive Feast for Your Palate

Winter in Portugal brings forth an array of culinary delights, adding warmth and flavour to your journey. The Portuguese are known for their love of food, and the winter season showcases this passion through an array of gastronomic experiences. From indulging in warm, hearty soups to savouring the delectable Pasteis de Nata, your taste buds are in for a festive treat.

Don’t forget to pair your meals with some of the finest Portuguese wines, renowned for their exquisite flavours and rich heritage. Participate in wine-tasting tours that take you through historic vineyards, offering insights into the winemaking traditions of the region.

Embrace the Festivities: A Celebration of Culture and Traditions

Portugal’s winter months are a time of celebration and festivities. The Portuguese take great pride in preserving their rich cultural traditions, which come alive during this season. From Christmas markets to New Year’s Eve fireworks, Portugal embraces the festive spirit with enthusiasm and joy.

Join in the celebrations by attending traditional Fado concerts, witnessing the vibrant parades, and indulging in the festive gastronomy. It’s a time when communities come together to celebrate, fostering a spirit of unity and togetherness.

Discover Untouched Natural Beauty

As you venture further into the heart of Portugal, you’ll encounter regions of untouched natural beauty that simply beg to be explored. The winter months bestow a special kind of magic upon the lush forests and tranquil rivers that adorn the country’s landscapes. Consider a visit to the Douro Valley, where the rolling hills are adorned with terraced vineyards, offering a picturesque setting for a winter retreat. Take a leisurely boat trip along the Douro River, witnessing the changing hues of the landscapes, an artist’s palette of warm ambers and rich greens, as the winter sun kisses the valley in good morning. These moments of tranquillity provide the perfect counterpoint to the vibrant energy of Portugal’s cities, offering a complete and immersive travel experience.

A Toast to New Beginnings

As you draw your journey to a close, find a moment to stand upon one of Portugal’s breathtaking cliffs overlooking the majestic Atlantic, where old meets new and historic legacy meets modern vibrancy. It’s here that you might find a deeper connection to the world around you, feeling the pulse of history and the vibrant life force that propels Portugal into the future. Raise a glass of fine Portuguese wine to new beginnings and to the adventures that await in the coming year. Your winter journey in Portugal is not just a tour; it is an initiation into a world brimming with beauty, culture, and warmth. It is a gentle reminder that even in the colder seasons, life blossoms in the most beautiful and unexpected ways, offering joy, wonder, and the promise of unforgettable memories.

Conclusion: Your Next Journey Awaits

As the year draws to a close, consider making your next journey a vibrant exploration of Portugal’s sun-drenched shores and historic wonders. Let the magic of winter tours in Lisbon envelop you in a world of wonder and excitement, where the past meets the present in a harmonious dance. Don’t let the winter months pass by without experiencing the richness and beauty of Portugal’s landscapes and culture.

Pack your bags, book your Portugal winter tours, and embark on a journey that promises not only sun-kissed adventures but also a deep dive into a rich and vibrant cultural tapestry. Your next journey awaits, and it promises to be nothing short of unforgettable.



Why would you have boring old plain toast when you could have RAINBOW TOAST?? It’s easy to make as long as you’ve got a few food colourings and it makes for a fabulous activity for either:

  • Kids
  • Middle-aged perimenopausal women with too much time on their hands, who have been parents for so long that they’re not even sure what they like anymore and are concerned that death is imminent and that there’s no time left to start anything new

Can you guess which category I fall into?

It’s about four years ago now that I first wrote about my midlife unravelling. It had been creeping up on me for a long time and it was a while before I mustered the enthusiasm to question it, but when I finally did and started HRT, it did help to put things back together a little bit. I’m not saying I’m full of Zest For Life, but nowadays I can open my laptop without crying and don’t spend large chunks of the day staring out the window, so that’s good. I still cry at films but it’s reassuring to know I wasn’t just having a complete mental breakdown.

What I’ve really noticed though since the unravelling is that I’m much more conscious of DEATH. Sometimes I can be driving the car and I will imagine crashing and dying and I realise that would be FOREVER and it is terrifying. When you die, life STOPS. Isn’t that scary?? When I’m not having these brief but intense existential crises, I swing the opposite way and paint bread in the colours of the rainbow, because honestly why the hell not. We’re all going to die anyway etc etc, might as well paint stuff pretty colours in the meantime eh?

rainbow toast View Post


Candy floss, a sugary delight that evokes childhood memories and fairground fun, is not just for kids anymore. From the classic spun sugar treat to creative concoctions like candy floss cakes and drinks, there are numerous ways to enjoy this sweet indulgence. If you have been pondering questions like “What is candy floss made of?” or “How do you make candy floss?”, you’ve come to the right place. Let’s explore the joyous journey of making candy floss, featuring mouth-watering recipes and answering all your candy floss queries.

What is Candy Floss?

Before we jump into the sugary depths of candy floss recipes, let’s address the burning question: What is candy floss? Candy floss, also known as cotton candy in some regions, is a type of confection created by spinning sugar into thin strands to create a cloud-like, fluffy texture. This sweet treat is loved by children and adults alike, offering a melt-in-your-mouth experience that is simply unparalleled. So gather your ingredients for candy floss and embark on a sweet adventure that satisfies your cravings and brings joy to your heart.

Candy Floss Ingredients: The Sweet Foundation

Understanding candy floss ingredients is essential when embarking on the journey of candy floss making. The primary ingredient is sugar, but what sugar do you use for candy floss? Generally, granulated sugar is used, which melts and then solidifies into fine strands when spun at high speeds. Aside from sugar, you can incorporate various flavours and colours to create a vibrant and tasty treat. Now, let’s delve into the world of candy floss recipes.

How to Make Candy Floss: The Basics

Making candy floss at home can be a joyous experience. To start, you will need a candy floss machine to simplify the process. A quality candy floss machine can be sourced from websites such as Here is how to make candy floss with a machine:

  1. Preparation: Set up your candy floss machine on a clean, stable surface.
  2. Ingredients: Gather your candy floss ingredients, which are essentially sugar and any flavourings or colours you prefer.
  3. Heating: Turn on the machine and let it heat up for a few minutes.
  4. Spinning: Once heated, gradually add the sugar, and it will start spinning into thin strands of candy floss.
  5. Collecting: Use a cone or stick to collect the spun sugar, swirling it around to gather a fluffy mass of candy floss.

Now that you know how to make candy floss at home, let’s explore some enticing recipes.

Candy Floss Cake

An incredible way to impress at any gathering is by making a candy floss cake. This delightful dessert involves incorporating candy floss into your cake recipe for a unique and tantalizing treat. Here’s how to create a mesmerizing candy floss cake:

  1. Cake Base: Prepare your favourite cake base and let it cool.
  2. Frosting: Make a light frosting to act as a glue for the candy floss.
  3. Candy Floss: Prepare candy floss using the method mentioned above or purchase pre-made candy floss.
  4. Decoration: Decorate your cake with a generous amount of candy floss on top, creating a fluffy, cloud-like layer that is visually stunning and delicious.

Candy Floss Drinks and Mocktails

Add a splash of fun to your beverages with candy floss drinks and mocktails. Whether you are preparing a candy floss drink with a hint of alcohol or a non-alcoholic candy floss mocktail, the addition of candy floss can make any drink a festive affair.

  1. Candy Floss Sugar Syrup: Learn how to make candy floss sugar syrup by melting candy floss in a small amount of hot water. This syrup can be used as a sweetening agent in various drinks.
  2. Candy Floss Martini: Create a vibrant candy floss drink by placing a small amount of candy floss in a martini glass and pouring your favourite martini over it.
  3. Candy Floss Mocktail: For a non-alcoholic version, place candy floss in a glass and pour over a mixture of fruit juices for a sweet, fun, and fizzy mocktail.

Crafting Your Own Candy Floss Recipe

Now that you are equipped with knowledge and inspiration, it’s time to craft your candyfloss recipe. Experiment with different candyfloss ingredients, such as adding natural fruit flavours or vibrant colours to create unique and personalized treats. Remember, the key to making excellent candy floss is to let your creativity shine and enjoy the process.

Candy Floss Innovations: Beyond the Traditional Recipes

As the culinary world continues to evolve, so does the art of candy floss making. Chefs and food enthusiasts are venturing beyond the traditional avenues, introducing a myriad of innovations in candy floss recipes. One such innovation is incorporating candy floss into gourmet desserts, where it serves as a decorative and edible garnish that adds a touch of whimsy and a burst of sweetness. Another trend catching up is the fusion of candy floss with different cuisines, creating a perfect blend of textures and flavors that make for an unforgettable culinary experience. Don’t hesitate to experiment and create your candyfloss recipe, combining it with ingredients like chocolate, sea salt, or even spicy notes to give a surprising twist to this classic treat.

DIY Candy Floss Kits: Bringing the Joy Home

If you’re fascinated by the idea of making candy floss but not quite ready to invest in a machine, you’ll be thrilled to know that DIY candy floss kits are available to bring the joy of candy floss making right into your home. These kits often come with everything you need, including candy floss sugar, cones, and even a manual spinner, making it easier than ever to learn how to make candy floss at home. It’s a fantastic way to introduce children to the joy of making candy floss and nurturing their culinary interests from a young age. Moreover, these kits can be a unique gift idea for sweet-toothed friends and family, promising delightful moments of fun and indulgence as they swirl up their cotton candy clouds.

Conclusion: The Joy of Making Candy Floss

Candy floss making is more than just a culinary activity; it’s an experience filled with joy and nostalgia. Whether you choose to make candy floss as a fun family activity or to impress guests at a party, the process of making candy floss is sure to bring smiles to everyone’s faces. Armed with knowledge and recipes, you are now ready to explore the delightful world of candy floss. Get your sugar ready and let’s make candy floss that will satisfy all your sweet cravings!