I visited Elements Boutique Spa free of charge for the purposes of this review. All opinions my own.

Do you ever have those fantasies where you’re so rich and your house is so massive that you have a private cinema in the basement, with a selection of velvet sofas, and a private gym with a lycra-clad personal trainer standing by for whenever you fancy doing a few guided squats?

God, it would be lush wouldn’t it? I’d probably have a chef too to cook me complicated, delicious vegan meals, and perhaps a fully equipped bar with a cocktail waiter. (You had better buy Playgroups & Prosecco so that I can become a millionaire.) In the meantime, I basically recreated the ‘private spa in the grounds of my mansion’ vibe last week by taking a mid-week trip to Elements Boutique Spa.

Now I have to confess that even though it’s only about half an hour away from me, in the middle of the Somerset Levels, I hadn’t heard of it before. Not surprising I guess as it only opened last year. Depsite being new, Elements Boutique Spa has managed to pull off looking like it has always been there, nestled in the countryside, a beacon of relaxation and tranquility with views over the levels to Burrow Mump.

Burrow Mump

Because it’s still relatively new, and because I was there by myself on a Wednesday morning, I managed to time it so that for over an hour I had the entire thermal spa area to myself, thus creating the illusion of being a hugely successful authoress, Barbara Cartland style. I steamed, I saunaed, I took experiential showers (ooer) and I floated about in the pool pretending to be a mermaid – it was blissful. I also discovered that by taking deep breaths in and out I could make myself float and sink on command. I’m not sure if this is normal or not, but it was quite fun. View Post

We were loaned the Peugeot 5008 for a week for the purposes of this review. All opinions my own.

Peugeot 5008 review

A couple of weeks ago we were loaned a Peugeot 5008 SUV to drive around for a week. On the one hand I was excited – it’s always lovely to drive something that doesn’t need topping up with oil every few days – but on the other hand I was anxious. We’ve done a couple of different car reviews lately and I couldn’t help but wonder what I was going to find to say about it.

That’s kind of the trouble with new cars isn’t it? Unless you’re spending huge amounts of money, they’re all fairly similar in what they offer, all incredibly safe and comfortable and practical. I actually took part in a video last year that was comparing compact SUVs, and they were coming up with all kinds of unusual tests just to try to tell them apart.

With the Peugeot 5008 then, I was worried that I wouldn’t have anything to say other than ‘the back seats were really comfy’ and ‘I found it really smooth to drive.’

BORING.

Fortunately I was proved wrong. The Peugeot 5008 goes above and beyond a lot of the cars I’ve driven over the last few years, as though it wanted to make the point to me that yes, it might be spacious and intuitive to drive, but it can also give you stuff you’re not expecting. It didn’t come as a surprise to find out that it recently won the What Car? award for best large SUV. View Post

Advertisement feature – homemade mozzarella sticks with Pik-Nik

homemade mozzarella sticks like mcdonalds

When I was younger there were certain things in your lunch box that marked you out as the sort of person who’d NEVER be picked last for the rounders team. I’m thinking mini bags of animal biscuits, Monster Munch, that sort of thing. Then there were the lunch box ‘treats’ that didn’t do you any favours in the friend stakes, like egg sandwiches and carrot sticks. I’m not sure Bee will ever forgive me for sending her into school with sunflower seeds wrapped up in little bits of tin foil. (I hate making packed lunches though, so.)

In my mind, peelable cheese sticks definitely fall into the first category. When you’re a child you get points for any food that gives you the opportunity to say ‘yeah look at this, I always do this with my cheese’, while performing some elaborate ritual that you’ve made up on the spot.

(This isn’t just me is it? I have a vivid memory of going to a friend’s house for tea and having sausage, mash and beans, and spreading the mash all over my plate, sticking the sausages into it like flag poles, pouring my beans on top and saying ‘oh yeah, this is how I always eat them’.) View Post

Can you even believe it?? Playgroups and Prosecco, my debut novel, is out on Kindle on Friday March 1st, which is this week. THIS WEEK!

Hooray!

It’s a bit weird really to think about people reading it. When I wrote it I just imagined it as a really LONG blog post, and once it was done, that was sort of IT. Doh! It’s not it at all is it? In a couple of weeks I’m going up to London to watch some of the audiobook being recorded, and then come May 2nd, when the paperback is released, I’ll be driving around the country visiting bookshops and rearranging displays to put Playgroups and Prosecco to the front.

(I’ve also heard that if you go into any Waterstones with a pen and say you’re an author they will let you just sign copies, so maybe I’ll do that too. Or maybe I’ll pretend to be someone else and sign THEIR books.)

To celebrate the publication of the ebook on Friday, I’m having a bit of a virtual blog tour. Every day for the next two weeks a different blogger is going to be posting their review of my book, and I’ll then be sharing these (if they’re good obviously), so that you can read what people think and decide whether or not it’s worth you investing the mighty sum of £7.03 in pre-ordering the paperback.

Playgroups and Prosecco Jo Middleton View Post

I was reading something in The Guardian this week about a new concept called ‘refridgerdating’. It’s basically a ridiculous gimmick being used by Samsung to flog their smart fridges, where you get paired with potential lovers based on a shared love of halloumi, a lactose intolerance, or an obsession with Chinese cabbage.

The fridge has a browse at your shelves, notices that both you AND Arthur from the next town seem to buy a particular brand of beer every single week, and sends you out for dinner together and to have babies and live happily ever after. Something like that.

Okay, so it’s stupid.

BUT.

I can actually see some sense in it. Not in a ‘your fridge makes a match for you’ way, but in the sense that perhaps a peek into someone’s fridge could actually tell you a lot more about them than a Tinder profile. If anyone read my ‘what weird crap is in your freezer?‘ post for example, and saw that I had three different kinds of chips, they may well make some judgements about me that would be more useful than reading that I ‘love sushi and French martinis.’

In case you’ve never used Tinder, or other, similar apps, it’s TOUGH, because essentially 95% of people’s profile pictures look the same. For men, they normally fall into one of the following categories:

  • Mid-air shot of a skydive (can’t see face because of goggles)
  • Gym selfie, top pulled up slightly (to tempt me???)
  • Selfie from below, enhancing chins. Face looks sad, as though questioning existence.
  • Holding large fish
  • Posing with one leg on the rock at the top of Pen Y Fan
  • Giving camera the finger (WHY???)

If you could cut through all this crap and get a look in someone’s fridge instead, now THAT would be revealing wouldn’t it?

To make the point, I’ve taken some pictures of my fridge, right now, me having resisted the urge to rearrange things to make them look neater/take out the mini-pasties.

First up, the door, which is home to some of my collection of ‘ugly fridge magnets from around the world’. I’m imagining several people have turned their lights off already. (‘She’s clearly a weirdo.’)

What your fridge says about you View Post

I was offered the chance to review the new Aparthotels Adagio Brentford, so I sent my daughter Bee for a cheeky babymoon. The night’s stay was a gift – all opinions are Bee’s.

Adagio London Brentford A697

The one baby magazine that I read about 4 months ago told me to go on a babymoon with my ‘partner’, (he’s my boyfriend because I’m 23 years old), before the baby comes so we could appreciate having some nice quiet alone time together before our lives are filled with eternal screaming and we lose all feelings we ever had for one another. Or something like that.

Now I don’t really have a job, and the spare time my boyfriend has I basically force him to spend with me anyway, so I didn’t really feel like a romance needed to be rekindled, but it is always nice to have a change of scenery. The place I mainly always wish I was rather than here in dreary old Bath is London, so we decided to go there for the night.

It was actually sheer coincidence that we were then invited to stay in Aparthotels Adagio Brentford for the night to test out their accommodation! View Post