South East Bloggers Club | An evening at Jump Street

It seems crazy to think that it has been over two weeks since I attended the South East Bloggers Event at Jump Street in Chelmsford. Where has the time gone?

What a great evening it was though and definitely outside of what I would normally be getting up to on a Thursday night.

The evening provided the opportunity to try out the trampoline park as well as meet with some lifestyle brands.

I throughly enjoyed the trampolines, my inner child resurfaced itself big time!

As well as Jump Street the venue also houses Essex’s only clip n climb . This colourful arena houses 32 different climbing challenges as well as a vertical drop slide. I was not brave enough to try that. I’m a wimp!

I do want to go back and try out some of the climbing challenges though. The stairway to heaven in the front of this picture looks pretty interesting.

Energy spent we also had the opportunity to have a go at customising a design on a purse to take home using the happy fabric heat press.

We had a chat with Orthosole who create customisable insoles. They have gifted me a pair to try out at home in my running shoes. I will tell you more about that in a separate more detailed blog post.

We also met with the creator of Chelsea candles. These hand poured soy wax candles smelt and looked great. I definitely want to pick one up in The future.

Lastly a representative for Farleighs Hospice who talked to us about the work that they do and some of their upcoming fundraising work.

Overall it was a really fun evening and I offer a huge thanks to the ladies at Southeastbloggers for organising it.

Reading In Heels | A book based subscription box

I am bit of a sucker for a good old subscription box. That’s why when I found out about Reading In Heels I immediately signed myself up. If you love reading and are open to reading something that you haven’t picked yourself, then this box is for you.

Each month you receive a book plus some extra luxury treats. This month the treats seemed to be themed around products designed to help you relax and get a good nights sleep. I’ve had a lot on my plate at work at the moment so this is something I really appreciated.

Included was a relaxing tealight sample from hopping hare candles. This has a gorgeous lavender scent with top notes of ylangylang. Full size candles range from £10-£38 and you can also pick up the tealight samples for just £1 from their website.

Next we have sleepy head beauty balm from Made by Coopers Apothecary . This 10g mini tin retails for £5 and you can get a larger 60g tin for £15. It has a Lavender and Frankincense scent. The top notes are much warmer than the candle.

Included also are two t2tea sleep tight Teabags, £7.50 for 25 and 2 pieces of Chins Kitchen Rose and Cardamom Nankhatai, £6.50 box. These are little fragrant Indian shortbreads. They were nice but not something I would rush out to buy myself.

This months book is Bad Romance by Emily Hill. The book is a selection of short stories that are darkly funny. I often have found myself literally sniggering as I read this book. Each story takes a fairly ordinary situation and then adds an unexpected twist. Often the heroines behave in way that society norms could consider to be fairly outrageous, they do so with a charming defiance.

I’ve found this perfect for keeping in my bag when I have a spare 5-10 minutes and feel the urge to indulge in a spot of reading. Life is often far to busy and fast paced and I sometimes just am looking for a spot of instant gratification. I don’t have to worry about getting to ‘the good bits’ and then having to stop reading.

A subscription costs £12.40 including P&P. This also includes access to the Reading In Heels digital book club, a place where you can leave reviews and discuss the book with other members.

As you can see it is well packaged so you items arrive safely.

Overall I have thoroughly enjoyed my first experience of Reading in Heels. I am looking forward to seeing what next month brings.

Hopefield Animal Sanctuary

On Thursday evening I had the opportunity to visit Hopefield Animal Sanctuary for an Influencer event that they were hosting .I took my Son along with me as I knew he would enjoy meeting the animals.

We were given a guided tour of the sanctuary and an informative talk telling us all about the necessary work that they do at Hopefield. After our tour we were then treated to a delicious vegan afternoon tea served up in their on site tearoom.

The sanctuary is located in Brentwood, not far from where I live in Essex. I had driven past it on many occasions as the paddocks back onto the A12, a road that I use regularly, but I had never actually visited. My view from the A12 gave the impression that Hopefield is a small horse sanctuary, which of course it is, however it is actually so much more.

The Sanctuary was founded In 1983 by Paula and Ernie Clark, after seeing the plight of the increasing number of abandoned ponies and cobs being left abandoned on Rainham Marshes. Today the Sanctuary is home to over 450 rescued animals, not just horses. They range from unwanted pet rabbits and cats, horses and cattle to the more exotic including tortoises, snakes, raccoons, alpaca and reindeer,

One of Hopefield’s first residents was Hope a 35 year old horse. Hope was rescued at just 6 months old from the meat market where she had been separated from her mother and was found hiding in a corner scared and alone.

Hope is a lovely horse and thanks to the care she has received is now quite used to human contact.

Hope suffers from a foot condition so cannot walk in mud. This is why her paddock is floored with concrete. It allows her to enjoy being outdoors even in wet conditions. This is just one example of how Hopefield will adapt its facilities to match an individual animals needs.

Hopefield operates with a no kill policy meaning that they will never put a healthy animal down. Some of the animals have been rescued from terrible conditions, injured, malnourished and with complex physiological issues. The team will do their best to provide the specialist care and treatment required.

Some of animals have found their way to Hopefield as they have been considered to no longer have any value for their previous owners. These male dairy cows for example would usually be destroyed at birth considered worthless.

Other residents have found themselves at Hopefield due to being purchased as unsuitable pets. These Racoon dogs might  look very cute but do not make good pets. They found their way into the UK pet market from China. They are a wild animal though and cannot be domesticated. Luckily they were able to find a home at the sanctuary. Often unwanted animals are just dumped by their previous owners.

Hopefield do such fantastic work rescuing animals that would otherwise live a life that is full of suffering. They can only do this through fundraising and with the help of volunteers.

If you want to help you can do so by making a donation via their website. There is also an animal adoption scheme. We plan on adopting Slow Coach, the tortoise on the left in the picture below. He has scarring on his shell as he was kept in too small an enclosure. The heat lamps where so low they burnt his shell. This shell damage is permanent and will not grow back. It doesn’t slow him down though he was actually quite fast for a tortoise!

My Son instantly fell in love with Slow coach. He loves tortoises and wants one as a pet. We have had to tell him no though as it would be irresponsible of us to even entertain the idea. It is just not possible for us to provide the required home for one. My Son is excited to adopt Slow Coach though and will be able to visit him at Hopefield.

If you wanted to visit the Sanctuary and meet the animals for yourself it is open to the public. Opening times are  Fridays through to Monday, between 11 and 4pm.

Entry fees are very reasonable at just £16 for a family ticket. (2 adults, 2 children).

A visit makes for a lovely afternoon out, not only to you get to see a wide variety of different animals but it is very educational and helps to support their ongoing work. The tea room is also a great place to grab refreshments whilst you are there. We really enjoyed our afternoon tea!

If you could adopt an animal what kind of animal would you adopt? Let me know in the comments.

5 Things In May

It’s been a little while since I have had time to write. Lots has been happening in my life, I thought then It would be a good idea to share some of the highlights with you in one post. So here goes….

I Ran My First 10k

On the 9th of May I achieved a huge personal goal. Along with my sister Michelle, AKA marathon runner, and Husband Chris who completes triathlons, I ran my first 10k. 

We took part in a runthrough chase the sun event at The Olympic Park in Stratford. 

I am so proud of myself especially as I had to push through the last km. My calf’s were starting to feel like I had weights attached to them, yup it hurt! 


My Fourteen Year Old Son is Taller than Me!

The difference In these two photographs is crazy. Since the second picture was taken he has grown even taller. 

This dawned on me the other day. Harrison has always been cheeky, however on this occasion he was being a bit too cheeky. I was telling him off and he was looking down at me! What!!! 

No wonder he has been eating me out of house and home. 



I Finally Finished ‘Me After You’ 

This was such a great book. It is the sequel to Jo Jo Moyes bestseller ‘Me before You’. Set a couple of months on, after Will takes his own life, the book tackles grief and whether you are able to move on. It has a somewhat humerous approach whilst managing not to make light of the subject matter. 

At times I did want to give the main character Louise a good old shake, other times I just wanted to hug her. 


I have been channeling my inner Marie Kondo

My head is in that place where I’m feeling it’s time to get my home and life organised. 

I have been having a good old clear out and a reorganise of my storage. I just want everything organised so that I can eventually be more productive with my time. The sight of all these neatly folded tops makes me so happy. 

Infinity War Was AMAZING!!

Okay so technically this was released in April, but it was May before we went to see it. 

It was such a good film. It’s not often the outcome of a film leaves you speechless. I left the cinema thinking ‘I don’t know how I feel about that!’ 

To be honest I’m still reeling at what happened and cannot wait into the second part next year. 

This is hands down my favourite Marvel film so far! 

So that’s at little update of what’s been happening In my life recently. 

Dandi Patch – A viable alternative to deodorants & anti-perspirants? 

Let’s be frank here, we all sweat. It’s one of those necessary body functions designed to to keep us cool. It’s no fun though when it starts to pong or leave embarrassing sweat patches on your outfit. No wonder the top two selling brands, lynx and female sure,  net a cool £172 million in annual U.K. Sales. (Source: statista)

For years many of us have hardly given a second thought about reaching for chemical based products in an effort to combat the odour.

It is only fairly recently, now that Aluminium free options are on sale, that I personally have questioned the safety of such ingredients. Can they really contribute to breast cancer?

So far I’m yet to come across any scientific evidence that it does, but given my family history with breast cancer I now use such products with caution.

Here’s the conundrum…I am yet to come across an Aluminium free anti-perspirant that works as effectively as one with it in.

I recently came across this product the dandi patch on the Latest In Beauty website. I definitely had to try this out!

So what is a Dandi Patch?

These triangular patches are designed to be a discreet and effective solution to the problem of underarm sweat marks and the inevitable odour.

They are the brain child of sisters Theresa Pope and Hayley Leete, who won ‘British Invention of the year’ back in 2015, for the product. The pads can be worn for up to 24 hours and claim to hold up to 2000 times the average amount of underarm sweat.

As sweat is trapped within the pad it means you no longer have to suffer those embarrassing damp sweat patches, bad odour or ruin a light coloured top with yellow staining. Why does sweat do that?



I’m got going to lie and pretend these things are sexy. They’re not! In fact to me it looks like I’m wearing a giant plaster. I certainly would only ever wear these with sleeves.

They are not uncomfortable but did take a little bit of getting used to.

I deliberately choose to wear a blouse that I have previously had a sweaty patch problem whilst wearing. Off I went to deliver my work presentation, feeling a little hot and bothered. I could already feel the nervous sweat starting.

One presentation down and the patches have done their thing. I might have been internally sweating but on the outside you would never know. There were no sweaty marks or unpleasant odour. They work!

I don’t think I could use these on a daily basis. I am far too conscious that I’m wearing them. However for certain occasions they are a great confidence booster. I didn’t have to worry about my appearance or how I smelt and could focus on the task at hand. Did I tell you I nailed that presentation?

Dandi patches are available in a pack of 10 for £8.99. They also come in a male sized patch as well.

Let me know whether you would ever try these out or if you have actually come across an Aluminium free deodorant that works.


2018 Personal Goals – 1st quarter update. 

At the start of 2018 I set myself a moderate list of things I wanted to achieve this year. You can see the full list here. Now that we are three months into 2018 I decided to revisit the list and share with you some items I have ticked off.

Last Thursday I finally went to see the musical Wicked. My sisters surprised me with tickets for my birthday (much better than a physical present). 

Having wanted to see the show for such a  long time I am pleased to report that it didn’t disappoint. The alternative look at the world of Oz is clever, thought provoking and very funny. 

On this occasion Elphaba was actually played by the understudy Laura Pick. She was brilliant, and to be honest, If my sister hadn’t told me she was actually the understudy I never would have known. 

If you love musicals but haven’t seen Wicked yet book it up, you won’t be disappointed. 

I can now officially say that I can cable knit. Surprisingly It is actually pretty simple once you know how. That is provided you stick to the pattern you are following. I rely heavily on a stitch counter and may have had to un pick my mistakes a few times. 

I’m currently working on a cardigan for my Manager’s new baby. I really need to pull my needles out and finish that one whilst on annual leave this week otherwise he will be too big for it. Did I ever tell you that I deserve an award for advanced procrastination? 

That will be why I have unfortunately fallen behind with my reading schedule. I love reading however I just seem to have got out of the habit. My goal of reading 24 books in 18 is going to be tough to achieve. I’m currently on my 4th book at the moment, whereas I should be starting my 7th by now. Oops! 

Note to self…Step away from Twitter! 

So that’s my quarterly update. I don’t think I’m doing too badly but there is definitely room to pull my proverbial socks up.

5 Birthday Freebies you too can enjoy. 

I turned 36 last week, yikes! It feels weird just writing that. Anyway…growing old bleat over, I do like to see my Birthday as an excuse to be a little bit indulgent. Thanks to my love of loyalty cards I’ve been able to do just that without damaging my pocket.

I thought it would be great idea to show my readers what Birthday freebies I picked up, just in case you didn’t know that these offers were available. FYI, I didn’t know about free booze from Miller & Carter,  until my brow waxer told me about it.

The Body Shop – 

If you are a member of their Love Your Body reward card you will receive a £5 gift voucher on your birthday.

I traded mine in for a mini of my favourite Hemp Hand Cream.

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Benefit Cosmetics – 

If you have a Benefit brow bar near you then make sure you book an appointment for a free brow wax. This has to be scheduled within two weeks either side of your birthday. You don’t need to sign up to a loyalty program just bring along proof of your birthday date to your appointment.

Paperchase

If you hold a Paperchase treat me card then you will receive a £5 voucher on your birthday. The voucher is valid for two weeks from that date and is automatically loaded onto your points card.

I traded mine in for a notebook and cute avocado stickers.

Miller & Carter 

So this I eluded to earlier. If you sign up to Steak Club you can get a free glass of prosecco for yourself and guests on your birthday. At least four of you need to be ordering a main course to qualify.

Now I know this isn’t a cheap please to eat but I was heading there anyway for my birthday meal anyway so of course I wasn’t going to miss out on my free bubbles!
Hobby Craft 

I haven’t actually claimed this one yet, but I have a few days left to do so.

If you are a member of the Hobbycraft Club you will get a £5 voucher on your birthday. Unlike other vouchers of this type you can use it not just on full price items but also sale and clearance items.

Mine will be going towards a knitting needle case. I have so many needles that all sit loosely in a mess. Finding the correct matching pair can be a nightmare.

I hope you found this post helpful.

An evening at the #MegaMysteryBus Event

On the 8th of February I had the opportunity to attend the #MegaMysteryBus blogger event in London. I didn’t quite know what to expect from the evening having not taken part in anything like this before. I was looking forward to it though as I knew we would be taking part in a bus tour around some of London’s most iconic places and that it would also involve a bit of sleuthing.

We met at the Radisson Blu hotel on Portman Square.  Here we were welcomed with drinks and nibbles and given a team number.  This provided us with the opportunity to break the ice and find our fellow team members before boarding the bus.


Each team was given a Sherlock adventure bag that contained clue cards, evidence bags and a computer tablet. We had to follow the instructions to solve the clues, find some mystery characters including Sherlock Holmes himself and gather evidence along the way. The bus took us to two different locations, Westminster Abbey and Trafalger Square. We also had to find our own way from Trafalger Square to Convent garden. No easy feat as I’m clueless when it comes to London. Yay for google maps then!

This was such a fun evening and I met some great girls, even if our team didn’t really have a clue what we were doing. Sleuthing definitely isn’t my fortay. It is no surprise our team placed in last HA HA!

This was definitely one of those evenings were it was about living in the moment, I think I took about two viable pictures the whole evening, we were just having too much fun.  I felt like I was living out my childhood dream of going on Treasure Hunt. Yep showing my age there.

Fortunately the organisers of the evening  SEO experts Search Laboratory had brought along a professional photographer Matt Chappell. The photos in this post are all his work. Well done for keeping up with four teams of crazy bloggers running around London.

Our Teams Evidence of The Hound – A Poo emoji key ring
Sid turned up for a surprise visit.
If you are looking for a budget Intercity coach operator do check out Mega Bus.  They offer fares from as little as £1 including a 20kg luggage allowance. The coaches are clean and comfortable, have free WiFi and toilet facilities. I have used them in the past to travel from London to Birmingham and found the whole experience very positive.

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February’s Reading List 

At the start of the year I set myself a few personal goals. One of those goals is to get back into reading by finishing up 26 books throughout 2018. 

So far I’ve finished two books;

Helen Forrester Lime Street at Two 

Paige Toon All about the hype 

Both of these books are part of mini series’ that I have now finished. They are very different but both equally great reads. Let me know if you would be interested in a book review on either of these. 

In order to stay on track and keep myself accountable I have decided to share my monthly reading list here on the blog. 

These are the books I plan to read in February; 

Paige ToonThe one we fell in love with 

Paige Toon is my favourite author. I received this book from my husband for Christmas… I just haven’t got round to reading it yet 

Jo-Jo MoyesAfter You 

I read Me Before You last year and really enjoyed it. It’s about time I read the sequel then. I also have the book on loan from my little sister so need to hurry up and give it back to her. 

I’m open to pushing my reading comfort zone so if you have any suggestions for books that you think I should be adding to my reading list please leave them in the comment section.

5 things that happened when I stopped eating refined sugar 

For the past 30 days I have been taking part in a challenge to remove junk from my diet including things like crisps, cakes and anything that contains added or refined sugar. 

People that know me well will appreciate how much of a challenge this has been for me. The first few days of this were tough. I had a withdrawal headache and was cranky because I couldn’t eat what I wanted. 

Fortunately I am part of a 30 day challenge group on Facebook, and my husband has also been on this challenge so there has been plenty of support. 

Now  at the end of this challenge I thought I would share the five things that I have discovered since giving up the sugar. 

  1. At the beginning of my sugar detox I felt really hungry. I started having to look at food in a different way. I am now looking at food for its nutritional benefits and its ability to keep me full.    For example at breakfast I am now eating overnight oats made with natural greek yogurt and berries rather than a cereal bar. My sugar levels are no longer spiking and then slumping. I have so much more energy and no longer have a dreadful late afternoon slump. 
  2. My skin is looking clearer. I can’t give you a scientific reason for this, it just does. I am definitely a vain person so this is enough for me to make a go of sticking to a sugar free diet. 
  3. Now that the natural flavours of food are no longer masked with sugar it tastes so much better. I’m really beginning to appreciate food again. Fruit like grapes and strawberries taste amazing and are enough to satisfy my usual post meal need for a sweet fix. Home made sweet potato crisps are heaven! 
  4. I have got used to the taste of food without added sugar. I can really taste hidden sugars in food. Simple things like a tin of baked beans taste really sweet. Too sweet In fact. I’ve now switched to Heinz No added sugar beans, which I hated before. 
  5. In a bid to avoid those hidden sugars I have made an effort to take a packed lunch to work. This has saved me money. Win Win! 

I know I will struggle to stick to a completely sugar free diet on long a term basis. There will always be the temptation to indulge In the odd bit of chocolate, particularly around my time of the month. Going forward though it is about making sensible choices.