This week I got a cold sore.

SUCH FUN!

I made a special trip to Wilko for cold sore cream because of this:

overpriced branded medication

Yep, that’s two IDENTICAL cold sore creams as far as I can see. The Wilko own brand is £1. The branded version is £5. That’s FIVE TIMES the price. (Note that the Zovirax version doesn’t have a price per 1kg – perhaps it wouldn’t fit on the tag?)

There is no obvious difference between them, they both contain the same amount of the same active ingredient and they both do the same job.

So WHY??

Overpriced branded medication is something that has always wound me up. It just feels wrong on so many levels. Not only is it a total rip off generally, but it feels like you’re being ripped off when you feel at your most vulnerable. (Me going shopping with Belle when she is sad.)

Looking at the myriad different examples on the shelf it’s hard to believe that it even EXISTS as an industry. It’s so obviously just the same product sold in ridiculously over the top packaging, and yet people MUST be falling for it, or there wouldn’t be a market. It makes me cross to think of all of these big brands chuckling to themselves while innocent people are coughing and spluttering over their remedies.

Picture yourself with a bad cold. You’re trying to get through the day, you’re not thinking straight, you just want anything that might make you feel better, so when you see words like MAX STRENGTH you’re in. View Post

I have to say, single life is growing on me.

I don’t miss anything much about being in a relationship to be honest, apart from cups of tea in bed. I feel happier than I have in a long time – relaxed, peaceful – I like it. There are very few things that I feel I can’t do perfectly well either for myself or by myself.

Apart from cars.

Everything about cars fills me with dread to the point that I don’t even like putting in petrol. I put it off and put it off until my petrol light has been on for about two days and the stress of potentially embarrassing myself by running out at the side of the road ultimately outweighs the loathing of the task ahead.

It’s one of the only times when I find myself fantasising about having a boyfriend. He would be the kind who notices that my fuel is low and goes and fills it up, ready for next time I want to use the car, possibly leaving a tin of peach flavour travel sweets in the glove box just as a little extra.

The main reason I put that satsuma in front of the engine warning light was that I couldn’t bear the thought of having to DEAL WITH IT. I didn’t want to phone a garage, talk to a human, take in the car, talk about things I don’t understand, go back to fetch it…

God what a faff. I don’t know what it is but the whole process makes me feel kind of hopeless and weird.

What I really need when it comes to car maintenance is some sort of service that you can book online, where someone reliable and trustworthy just turns up at your house and gets on with things. No phone calls, no scary garages with Heart FM blaring in a tinny way at a ridiculous volume, no awkward wandering about the streets waiting for them to call and say you can come back and pay a MILLION POUNDS to pick up your car. Just nice and simple, no effort required.

OH HELLO THERE TYRES ON THE DRIVE.

Basically Tyres on the Drive is the service I would design if I could design my own tyre fitting service. You simply visit the Tyres on the Drive website, pick your tyres, pick your time slot and away you go. They’ll come to you at work or at home, operate 12 hours a day, seven days a week, and even promise to beat any like for like quote.

What, quite honestly, is not to love? View Post

Eating out is one of my very favourite things to do. As a family, food forms the basis of most of our outings.

‘What do you fancy doing today?’ one of us will ask another.

‘How about we go over to Wells?’ the other will suggest.

‘Shall we meet at midday? Just in time for lunch?’

And then we’ll meet and have lunch and look in a token shop or glance at Wells Cathedral so it feels like we actually HAVE had an outing, and then we go home again.

I think you get the idea.

I’m always pleased then when I get asked to try out a new restaurant, and I was SUPER pleased to get to visit Symonds at Redwood as the menu looked LUSH.

Symonds is set within Audley Redwood village, a luxury retirement village just outside Clifton in Bristol. The minute we got there I wanted to retire – the setting is beautiful and the apartments look lovely. There’s a fitness centre with loads of classes, a swimming pool, hair salon, and even a library. A library!

There’s also a bar and Symonds restaurant. It’s basically everything I need. I could picture myself at the bar mid-afternoon with a gin and tonic, hair done, library book in hand. Bliss.

Unfortunately you have to be at least 55 years old to actually live in one of the apartments, which is not that far away really, so it was basically a retirement research trip.

You do NOT have to be 55 though to visit Symonds. The bar and restaurant opened to residents at the end of last year and then to the general public in January. It’s beautifully decorated and opens out onto the gardens where you can sit in warmer weather. As well as evening meals Symonds do lunches and afternoon teas, which I’m sure would be lovely in the summer on the terrace.

Symonds restaurant Bristol review

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On Tuesday this week I found myself in a hot tub at the Lido in Bristol. I say ‘found myself’ – I didn’t wake up there, blurry eyed and confused, I got IN. You know, consciously.

Two women who looked about my age were sat opposite me, chatting about various lighthearted things. There was a natural lull in the conversation. The woman on the left, we will call her woman one, looked thoughtful.

‘I think I know what it is to love somebody,’ said woman one, seemingly out of nowhere, ‘but I don’t think I’m in love with my husband.’

There was another silence. Not so natural this time. Woman two looked shocked, like perhaps she didn’t feel like she knew woman one well enough to be hearing this.

‘Wow,’ said woman two, ‘that’s pretty big. How long have you felt like that? I think it’s pretty normal over time to feel a different kind of love for a partner.’

‘I’m not sure,’ said woman one, ‘I think I’ve always felt like it. It’s actually the first time I’ve said it out loud to anyone.’

Woman two was definitely feeling the pressure at this point, and I was doing my best not to stare directly at them, but it was hard to listen over the noise of the bubbles without being able to see their faces.

‘How do you feel about that?’ said woman two.

Woman one sighed. ‘I guess I just try not to think about it. I push it to one side. I figure that’s just it now.’ She looked sad.

WHAT THE HELL?? View Post

Post in association with Vileda

Vileda EasyWring and clean turbo mop

When you manage to coordinate your mop head and slipper pom poms

At any one moment, how many thoughts about ‘stuff’ are going through your head? How often do you find yourself trying to remember to buy toothpaste and get the wine out of the garage for your mum at the same time as making a child’s packed lunch and putting on a pair of tights?

(Me this morning.)

The fact is that we have a lot of things to do, and sometimes it’s hard to actually do them all.

JK Rowling sums it up pretty well. ‘People very often say to me,’ she says’ ”How did you do it, how did you raise a baby and write a book?’ And the answer is – I didn’t do housework for four years. I am not Superwoman.’

She had the magical wizarding kingdom at her disposal, so what chance for us mere muggles to keep on top of cleaning?

To try to help me stay on top of my own housework juggling act, which mainly involves me balancing cleaning tasks with important things like making my own party rings, Vileda recently sent me an EasyWring & Clean Turbo – a mop and bucket set that is designed to make cleaning floors a veritable breeze. Vileda’s plan is that by equipping me with one of their labour saving devices that I will be more inclined to keep my house clean. View Post

homemade party rings

Nothing says party like a party ring does it?

When I said out loud in my office today that I thought I might go home and make some party rings, the response was overwhelming. Much discussion ensued about the key foods that make up a good party – egg sandwiches, pink wafers etc – but the consensus was that if you turn up to a party with a packet of party rings then you win. You get the girl.

Can you EVEN IMAGINE then how popular you would be if you turned up to a party with HOMEMADE party rings?

Having already experimented with homemade Jaffa Cakes, homemade Jammie Dodgers, and a rather dubious batch of homemade Chocolate Hobnobs, which didn’t make the blog as I didn’t want to be sued for the cost of your resulting dental work, I thought I would have a go at making my own homemade party rings.

Follow my simple party rings recipe and you too can wow your party guests as you present them with a beautiful plate of Instagram ready treats. View Post