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. 

My first Pink parcel Experience 

Who else hates their period? I do, with a great big fat capital H! Saying that I do greet it each month with a ‘Halle-friggin-lujah’…I’ve dodged the pregnancy bullet. Those inevitable cramps and that not feeling truly clean experience are not welcome though! That’s why I decided I was going to give Pink Parcel a try. 

Pink Parcel is a monthly subscription service that promises to make those monthly visits ‘fuss free and fabulous’ The service combines treats, beauty products and those essential femcare products all delivered to you at home. This arrives in a discreet and well packaged parcel on a date of your choosing. 

My first concern was whether it would arrive in time. Fortunately it actually arrived roughly a week before my selected date. No problems there then.

Secondly, would I be sent the type of femcare product that I prefer to use? Thankfully you get to choose from a wide variety of brands and can pick, tampons, towels or even a combination of both. I was pleasantly surprised to see that this part of the box isn’t just an afterthought. You receive a good amount with a combination of items for both daytime and nighttime use. There is also even a little well filled ‘for now’ bag to keep in your handbag so you don’t ever get caught out. 

Also included in the box is a treat food item along with a healthy tea bag. I don’t know about you but I always crave chocolate around my time of the month. I also love a cup of tea!

January’s box theme is Positivity, so the beauty related products included reflect this. 

My favourite item included is the Made by Coopers Apothecary Happy Mist value £12. 

This can be used to spray in the air or onto fabrics. The lime, clementine and basil scent is very uplifting and definitely triggers the pleasure sensors. 

I was also pleased to see Browcote Waterproof Brow Gel. Value £6.99

Brow products are one of my favourite make-up items so I will definitely be trying this out. I’m that person that can happily leave the house with a bare face but I always have to have groomed brows. 

Laritzy is a makeup brand that I haven’t heard of before now. This eye pencil is what I consider to be a ‘safe’ introduction to the brand. This is the most expensive item in the box with an rrp of £18.00.

I have the shade shimmer which is a silver shade. I shall be trying this out in my waterline as an eye brightening product. The packaging states that it is free from Parabens and after checking their website I found out that they also do not test on animals. Both positives for me! 

The last item is a set of Bandzee Hair Ties value £5.95. 

I love this type of hair tie as they are strong yet don’t leave kinks in you hair. I do feel they are often very overpriced though, especially as I’m always loosing them. This was definitely a useful addition to this box. 
Over all I am really pleased with my first experience of Pink Parcel. The value of the contents far exceed the £12.95 price tag. I’m not going to lie sanitary towels are one of those essential items that I resent have to spend money on. This subscription service takes the pain out of it! I’m looking forward to seeing what February’s box brings. 

Gousto – The subscription service for busy foodies!

Well Hello! It’s been a while… Life got busy again! There never seems to enough hours in the day to do everything I’ve planned. Let’s be real here…I’m not the sort of girl to give up her sleep in favour of ticking something else off that never ending ‘to-do-list’. I am interested in anything that is going to save me time though. That’s why I decided to try out some recipe box services. The first Box I tried is Gousto box, and…… I am ridiculously impressed. Where has this been all my life? 


If you haven’t heard of Gousto box this is how it works. First up you sign up to a subscription service deciding whether you want a box for two or four people. Then you choose how many meals you want (up to four) when, and how often you want your meals delivered. Lastly you pick from a great selection of recipes and they send you everything you need straight to your front door. Simple!


My biggest concern about using this type of service was freshness. What happens if I’m not home? How does the raw meet keep from going bad throughout the delivery process? 

I was pleased to see that anything that needs to keep cool was packed into a wool cool biodegradable cool bag complete with Ice blocks. Everything was still cold so my concerns about the food spoiling was unnecessary.


The Ingredients themselves are all very fresh and of high quality. Where possible the items are delivered naked so packaging is kept to a minimum. How good does all that fresh food look? 

So far everything we have tried has been very tasty. Even my fussy youngest liked everything. The recipe cards are easy to follow and I love that everything is pre measured out for you. 

We are a family of five so ordered the four person box. The portion sizes are generous though so we have been able to stretch the meals to feed us all. Gousto do say on their website that they are adult portions and that a child wouldn’t necessarily require a full portion. 

Gousto box hasn’t removed the ‘having to cook’ element from my day, but it has completely simplified the process. No longer to I have to spend ages searching for interesting meals, making shopping lists and trying to source different ingredients. 

I have a diabetic son who has to carb count. This can often be tricky when cooking from scratch. All the nutritional information is listed on the recipe cards so this was actually really easy to work out. Another big time saver! 

The price of a Gousto box is structured depending on how many people you are ordering for And how many meals you choose. For us it works out as £47.75 which breaks down to £2.98 a portion. 

When you factor in the price of quality meat, 1 off ingredients, fuel costs, time saved and the removal of the ‘I can’t be bothered’ impulse take-away I feel that’s not a bad deal. 

If you wanted to try out Gousto for yourself this Link will get you your first two boxes half price. In the. Interest of disclosure I would also receive £15 credit to use on the website. 

For now I’ll leave you with some pictures of some of the tasty meals we have been enjoying. 




Bringing Back The Photo Album 

When the first digital camera was invented back in 1975 it was heavy, slow and could only record black and white images. It was never intended for commercial use. In fact It took until 1990 for the first digital camera to be commercially available.

Originally it was  slow to catch on but the digital camera was to revolutionise how we took and viewed our photographs. No longer did we have to wait for our films to be developed and printed by a professional. Our photos could be instantly viewed, the unflattering ones deleted. All that excitement and urgency to get our hands on our photos was no longer. 

Today most of us have a smartphone that can instantly capture and share moments to social media. The need to print our images seems even less. 

I don’t know about you but I have years worth of digital images stored in virtual space not being appreciated. The missed opportunities of this was only reinforced by the death of my mother this year. I had a realisation that all I had left of my Mum were memories. I wanted something tangible to help hold onto them. 

It may sound overly dramatic but this was a bit of a wake up call for me. 

I am currently working on a little project to get all my favourite pictures printed and into albums. I am very aware that this is going to end up being a costly and time consuming project. It will be worth it though.

Currently I am using the FreePrints app available for iPhone to print those images from my phone, social media and Dropbox accounts. What’s helpful is that you get 45 free prints a month, only having to pay for postage. 

The quality of the prints are great and delivery is fast. I would love to leave a link but is it is app that isn’t possible. The icon though is a white butterfly on a blue background (see screenshot below).

For photo albums I like to use ring bound scrapbooks as I can really personalise the layout of each page. I can also add newspaper cuttings and tickets from events. I feel like I am creating something special for me to look back in years from now. 

My Sunday Photo 

I’ve seen quite a few other bloggers share a Sunday photo each week. This is usually accompanied by a little explanation of what is happening in that photo and what it means to them. I loved this idea so have decided to introduce this as a regular feature on Schoolrunbeauty.com.

Now my first photo is not a deep and meaningful family shot. Nope it basically demonstrates what a Plank I am. 


Yes Katy managed to set fire to the dinner this week! The downstairs of the house stank of smoke for about three days! 

In my defence I was knackered after a very busy day at work. I didn’t want to cook! I wanted a takeaway! Listening to the Husbands reasoning on why we really should be well behaved and cook, I got on with it. This is where it went very wrong!

Cooking pasta is piss easy. My ten year old can do it! Apparently my tired brain can’t though. I had put water on to boil, managed to switch on the wrong hob, of which I’d left a packet of pasta on. Queue the flames! Bang went my quiet five minutes to indulge in a cuppa. 

Did I get that much wanted takeaway? Nope. We now had a mess to clean up alongside trying to get something edible on the table. I’ve spent several days since trying to scrape melted plastic of the ceramic hob. Alas I think it’s probably ruined. Bugger! 

So moral of the story….I should shave got the Takeaway!!! 

2017 Bucket List Update

At the start of 2017 I created a list of the  17 things I wanted to do this year. I have actually managed to do a few things on that list. 

It’s is crazy to me that it is the end of July and we are officially over halfway through the 2017. Where has the year gone? 

So much has happened in such a relatively short space of time. My life now  is very different to what it was like at the start of the year. 

Some of those things have been amazing opportunities such as going full time and being promoted at work. Other things have been very sad such as loosing my mum back in January. It has been bittersweet.

I decided it was about time that I revisited the Bucket List and gave you a little up date on my progress. 
London Zoo 

Way back in April we visited London Zoo. I enjoyed seeing all the animals but also loved all the old architecture, many of which are listed buildings. The Giraffe house with its huge split doors was built in 1836. 

Catch a Wave 

I said I was going to embrace the sea this summer and catch a wave. Well yay for it being so warm in the run up to summer as it actually wasn’t that cold when we finally headed down to North Devon for our summer holiday. 
I tried out both bodyboarding and Surfing. The later is much harder and I still haven’t got up off my stomach. I have the bruised and scratched knees to prove though that I did  indeed catch and ride a wave. 


Not quite sure if I’m pulling of the surfer girl look? 


Try Avocado on Toast 

I’m counting this Smashed Avocado and Bacon on Sour dough toast, from Jamaica Blue in Chelmsford, as ticking something off my list. It’s not quite the super healthy blogger cliche version but this appealed to me much more. In fact I enjoyed it so much I’ve been back a couple of times. 


Read the Harry Potter Series 

My son and I are making good progress reading through the Harry Potter series. We  have got as far as Goblet of Fire. 

I love this one to one time I have with my youngest. We don’t get to do it every day due to work constraints, which is why it has taken us so long. I’m sure we will have finished the series by the end of the year.

Visit Ireland 

Lastly I have booked my flights to visit family in Ireland this coming September. It will be a whirlwind weekend trip but I can’t wait. We are have a big girly weekend at my Aunts in a part of Ireland I have never visited before. 

We are a little over halfway through the year. So far I have ticked off or planned for 5 items on my list. With 12 still left I’m going have to pull my finger out if I want to tick them off before the end of 2017. 

Of course I will keep you updated when that happens.

Day Tripping | ZSL London Zoo

On Saturday I finally got to tick one of the bigger items off my 2017 bucket list.  We took the children to ZSL London Zoo. We got up early, packed a picnic and drove up to London. 

We had had much debate over whether we were going to get the train to Regents Park or brave driving. In the end the fact that there was the hassle of a rail replacement service, the decision was made for us.

It was actually really simple getting there by car and we were able to park in the Zoo’s car park which is a very short walk from the entrance. The cost of parking is £14.50 for the day. This extra fee is kind of annoying as entry price to the zoo is so high, but reasonable for London prices. It’s not a big car park so I would advise getting there for opening time if you plan on doing this. 

We were able to save some money on our entry fee by trading in Tesco club card vouchers. This is worth bearing in mind if you are planning a visit as it can save you a lot of money on your entrance fee

London Zoo is the worlds oldest scientific Zoo, it opened in 1828 as collection for scientific study. Today the zoo is a registered charity and undertakes important conservation work on critically endangered species such as its successful Sumatra Tiger breeding program. 


Throughout the day there are various different talks and feeds that you can watch. These are very popular so it’s worth planning your day around these if you want a good view point. 

Highlights for me included the Reptile house and the Aquarium. Aside from being able to view a huge variety of species, the buildings themselves are very interesting. Opened in 1927 they are great example of architecture of that time period, with original features still present. 

The reptile house featured in Harry Potter: The Philosophers Stone. We spent a lot of time trying to work out which particular tank Dudley got stuck in. 






The Animal enclosures are very open with a good amount of outdoor space. Rather than glass enclosures, moats, low fences and netting are widely used. It does feel that you are able to get quite a close up view of the animals. 

The Gorrila enclosure is a particularly good example of this.



We spent a good five hours at London Zoo, there is plenty to see and do including a children’s hands on area, climbing frames and a traditional carousel.

It is possible to see all of the animals in one visit but not necessarily all of the talks. You can become an annual member of ZSL that allows you unlimited entry to both ZSL London Zoo and ZSL Whipsnade Zoo. For our family, if we paid by direct debit, the annual membership fee is roughly the same as the gate price if  we were to visit each of the zoos just once. This is something worth considering if you wanted to visit both or more than once a year. 

We took a lot of pictures during our visit so I’m going to end this post by sharing some of the best with you. 




My Current thoughts on Minimalism | I watched ‘that’ Netflix Documentary 

Regular readers of this blog will know that I have been trying to downsize and de clutter my life. One of my first areas to tackle was my bulging wardrobe using the Project333 method. You can read more about that in this post here

Things have certainly improved in that department, though I did fall off the wagon a bit recently. I am a self confessed shopaholic so you can imagine how much of a challenge changing this behavioural pattern has been. 

After deciding that I needed some inspiration I decided to watch the Netflix documentary Minimalism: A Documentary About The Important Things. You can find more information on it here. Whilst I wouldn’t say that this has been life changing or I’ve had an epiphany, I do feel I took some important lessons from it. 

The documentary touched on America’s consumer led throw away culture and why this has been the norm. The ability to participate in conspicuous consumption is seen as part of fulfilling that American dream. In laymans terms this means that we have been conditioned to believe that what we consume in terms of material possessions portrays how successful and happy in life we are. Obviously I’m not an American or living in America but this rings true of most progressive countries. 

This is a notion that I completely agree with. As a society we have indeed become accustomed to that misguided need to seek  fulfilment from material things. The problem is that sense of fulfilment is often short lived before we are dissatisfied and looking for the next ‘must have’ item. That buzz you get from buying something new and sharing it on Instagram is what feeds the habit. 

Retailers convince us that if we are having a bad day or simply feeling a bit down that some retail therapy is the answer to our problems. It’s not though! A new pair of shoes won’t change the fact that your job sucks or your boyfriend cheated on you. 

I feel I have made a conscious decision to change my ways. This isn’t going to happen overnight though. I’m going to use a huge cliche now. I’m on a bit of a journey of discovery and gradually working out what things are important to me. 

Since downsizing my wardrobe, back in November I have been a lot happier. Even though I have less clothes I never say to myself I have nothing to wear. Why? Well for a start every damn item in that wardrobe I love. If something doesn’t fit or make me feel special I’m not going to hold onto it. 

Now I know that plays into the whole throw away fashion problem but hear me out. I am learning to be mindful about what I consume. I ask myself questions such as ‘Do I actually need this?’. 

I would be lying if I said I had completely stuck to the project 333 method of managing my wardrobe. Just working in fashion retail presents temptation on a daily basis. As part of my job I am required to act as a brand ambassador and dress in the latest collections that are on sale at work. For this reason my work wardrobe is constantly changing to keep up to date. 

It is much easier for me to control the basics. Recently I bought two pairs of jeans, one black and one blue. That could seem excessive but I had lost weight and the two pairs of jeans I already owned kept falling down. Instead of holding on to those jeans that didn’t fit I took them along to my local charity shop. In the past I probably would have held on to them ‘just in case’. For me being able to let go of material possessions that no longer serve a purpose to me is a big step forward. 

I certainly wouldn’t describe myself as a minimalist. I enjoy shopping and collecting pretty things. One thing I picked up from the documentary is that It’s okay to have a collection if you feel it genuinely adds value to your life. That is the key thought process I have in mind now when deciding whether to give space in my life to a particular material item. 

As an example I have what most people would consider a large amount of makeup and beauty products. I see trying out new products and reviewing them on my blog as a rewarding hobby. 

I am making small changes in this area though. If I don’t like a product or it doesn’t work for me then realistically I’m not going to reach for it. What is the point of hoarding something if I don’t use it. It is just going to sit there untouched and getting closer and closer to its expiration date, losing any value it had. Somebody else though might love what doesn’t work for me so these are now going to be passed on.

I used to have 3 separate beauty subscription services delivered each month. Why? Well I had justified it by saying that this was a more cost effective way of trying out new products. I only have one body though so this was excessive. I couldn’t possibly use everything in one month. 

At present I have just one subscription service. I tried going cold turkey but found I really did actually miss receiving my monthly beauty package. That is okay though I haven’t failed and one is a vast improvement on three. 

If you have access to Netflix it is definitely worth checking the documentary on minimalist living out. I’m very aware that this type of lifestyle isn’t for everyone but it certainly helps you to see through the clutter and work out what is important in your life. 

Let me know your thoughts on this.